Giants' work has just begun

Giants' work has just begun
September 21, 2012, 10:39 pm
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When the Giants clinch their division title, and being up 10 games with 12 to play its going to take a hell of tracheotomy to prevent it, I fervently hope they walk off the field at the end of the game like theyd just polished off the Cubs in July.You know, like its no big deal. Because as it turns out, it wasnt.For all the fretting and agonizing and finger-pointing and misplaced anger, the Giants will win the NL West by something close to a record margin for them. The easiest cruise theyve ever had in franchise history was the 2003 win, when they cleared the Dodgers by 15 games. Youll remember that season fondly because of the fact that they needed only four games to be eradicated from the postseason by the Florida Marlins.And because it had much less drama, both real and fabricated, than this one.Or maybe it just seems that way, because we no longer enjoyed the good-natured antics of those two BFFs, Barry Bonds and Survivor Kent, or Felipe Alou coming to grips with the fearsome Schmidt-Rueter-Williams (as in Jerome)-Moss (as in Damian)-Foppert rotation, or Sir Sidney Ponson, which is his own chapter.This season offered up the batting champion in absentia; the reinflation of Buster Posey; the collapse and reinflation of Tim Lincecum; the collapse and re-re-reinflation of Pablo Sandoval; Brandon Belts slow emergence from confusion to comprehension; the mighty pitching staff that now causes such consternation; the bullpen by sub-committee.And of course all the misplaced angst about whether Bruce Bochy really is the master of his domain. He is. Clearly. He is easily one of the best managers in franchise history, a slight step below John McGraw and Leo Durocher but on a par with Dusty Baker. You do not have an argument to refute this, so dont try. You will fail horrendously, and end up in the fetal position in your office lunch room, and people will mock you at the holiday party.But back to why there probably should be no overt celebration when they clinch because they actually have been here before, and they know how much they have left to do.Nobody is left from the 03 team except Mike Murphy and Dave Righetti, so there are no handy memories or lessons to be culled from that. But 2010 is fresh in their minds, and they know how intermediary a step this is.Not only that, there is a distinct lack of adrenaline about this division title because the Dodgers have faded so badly and the Diamondbacks have faded so much worse that they could end up finishing behind the Padres.In addition, the Giants are a better team when in a competitive squeeze. They won in 2000 by beating the Dodgers by 11, and went down to the Mets in the first round. On the other hand, the 2002 team didnt even win its division and the 2010 team needed the final weekend to hold off the Padres.And finally, they go into this postseason with neither the best pitching staff (that would statistically be Washington, though that may not be true without Stephen Strasburg) nor the best lineup (that would also be Washington, though Cincinnati has the friendlier ballpark and fewer outs in the order). In addition, Cincinnati has the best bullpen, and both Cincinnati and Washington are dramatically better defensively.RELATED: Ballparks a factor for Giants' rotation in NLDS
In sum, the Giants are not the best team in the postseason, and dont have the advantage of going through either Atlanta or St. LouisLos AngelesMilwaukee to get to the League Championship Series. They have to do all of this the hard way against teams that had better seasons, and without home field advantage.In short, they wont have finished anything with this clinching. Theyll have only started it, and the job only gets bigger.The fans, of course, will disregard all of this, because theyre in it as much for the parties and the costumes as for the baseball, and the baseball is way more of a grind than the other two. Theyll think of this as another glorious moment in franchise history, and it sure beats losing.But glorious? These people know glorious, both team and customer alike, and this isnt near glorious yet. This is more like pretty damned good. Glorious doesnt happen until November.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.comAP Images

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