It wasn't clean, but it was classically Giant


It wasn't clean, but it was classically Giant


SAN FRANCISCO -- Brian Sabean worked the fringes of the Giants clubhouse trying to avoid huge sprays. Hed done nine dogpiles before this one, and he knew the safest way to navigate a celebration.

Total veteran move, the San Francisco general manager said as he clutched a can of clubhouse beer. Besides, Ive had this viral thing I cant rid of.

And therein lies a central truth of all human endeavor: Bacilli do not honor the deeds of men.

Sabean, though, was not the only one to handle the NL West title with a measure of restraint. The team as a whole did what old fuds the world around always ask for that they act like theyve been there before. Because, well, they had.

Yeah, this was harder than it looked, Sabean said. We went through a lot this year in a lot of ways, and it really was a tale of two seasons. But they were pros when they needed to be.

Thats the thing, manager Bruce Bochy added while he choked his own beer can. They went through so much more than it looked like, but when it came time to stand up, they did. We couldnt win at home, but when it got to be crunch time, we did just that. And this was the hardest one, because it was 162 games.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Giants are 2012 NL West champions

That last part is open to interpretation, since the Giants have played their last meaningful game against a team with a losing record. By slapping the San Diego Padres for the seventh time in playoff clinching situations, they also showed that they did not let up against their inferiors, going 54-30 against National League teams with losing records.

But it wasnt the victimization of the weak that Sabean, Bochy or the players will remember. It will be what they did when they were weakened. They adapted to the loss of closer Brian Wilson, the zany expulsions of Melky Cabrera, the struggles of Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum and Brandon Belt and Ryan Vogelsong and Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford.

Indeed, this was not a clean win, but it was classically Giant. They ran into walls face-first, and then got up and sought out the next wall. They went about routing the field in an odd way, and they routed it anyway.

And maybe because of the way they won the division, they celebrated with a slight edge. There was much more beer than champagne, much more satisfaction than hijinks, and the temperature of the room was significantly lower than for any other clinching in the last 15 years. It was a celebration with purpose, a quick release of steam before the boilers are stoked again. They know what awaits, and they know how much harder it gets in 10 more days.

Between now and then, though, Bochy and Sabean will go over their rosters again and again (remember, they had Jose Guillen on the roster in 2010 until two days before the end of the season), and they will check their rotations against the two teams they most likely could play in the first round.

It will not be a series of sentimental choices, either. Barry Zito learned that two years ago, and so did Sandoval. This time, the decisions seem easier, but the amount of time they will spend examining the alternate permutations will be no less.

In an odd way, it is how the fans felt as well. They did not linger long in the ballpark, for they didnt need to savor every drop of a division title that had been over for all intent and purpose a week ago. They seemed to remember the lessons of 2010 as well, and determined not to peak too soon, revelry-wise.

I dont know about that, Sabean said. Every one is unique, and this one was different than all the rest of them, no question. But theyre all special, and you have to enjoy them all, because theyre so hard to get, no matter how many of them you have.

Then he coughed, swallowed a swing of beer, and sidled along a line of lockers to shake hands with any players, staff or shareholders he might have missed his first two times around. It was the veteran move.

Top pick Heliot Ramos visits AT&T Park, will start Giants career this weekend

Top pick Heliot Ramos visits AT&T Park, will start Giants career this weekend

SAN FRANCISCO — As he was wrapping up the first press conference of his career, Heliot Ramos was asked when he expects to be back at AT&T Park as a player. The 17-year-old smiled and said he hopes to debut in three years. 

“I know it’s hard, but that’s my dream,” Ramos continued. “I know I’ve got to work hard for that.”

A half-dozen Giants officials stood a few feet away, smiling. Three years would be incredibly impressive. It took Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones four years after being drafted out of high school to reach the big leagues. Buster Posey got a cup of coffee a year after he was drafted, but he was already 22 years old because he had played three years at Florida State. 

Ramos doesn’t turn 18 until September. The Giants hope he is dominating A-ball in three years, and yet, he’s the the kind of prospect that allows them to dream for so much more. 

“If he grew up in Southern California (instead of Puerto Rico) we never would have had a shot at drafting him,” one team official said Tuesday.

Ramos certainly opened eyes in his second trip to AT&T Park, but then again, he put on a display the first time, too. The Giants brought him in for a pre-draft workout and someone pointed out to Ramos that the deepest part of the park was 421 feet. The right-handed hitter, making the transition to a wood bat, wasn’t bothered by the dimensions. He took aim at Triples Alley and tried to blast one out, and he nearly did. Then he started pulling the ball, peppering the left field bleachers with homers and convincing the front office that he was the right pick at No. 19 in this month’s draft. Ramos, described as a potential five-tool center fielder, said he enjoys hitting here.

“It’s a park with a lot of history, and I like that,” he said. 

The clock on his career starts this weekend. Ramos will travel back to Arizona and play in a rookie league game Friday or Saturday. It is always a slow progression for a high school draft pick, but the Giants believe Ramos is physically mature enough to jump right in with both feet. 

Ramos, who said his favorite player is Andrew McCutchen, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds and he carries it well. One member of the front office compared his body type to Yasiel Puig as a rookie; another called him a “mini-Cespedes.” Bruce Bochy lit up when asked about the physicality of the organization’s latest top pick. 

“Any time you get a young kid like this, the ceiling is so high,” he said. “That excites you.”

Bochy spent some time with Ramos and his family after batting practice. As they posed for photos, the manager looked out at the field and then turned to a PR representative.

“Can he take BP? Put him in the last group,” Bochy said, smiling. “I’ll put him in the lineup tomorrow.”

Ramos didn’t end up taking swings, but if all goes according to his plan, it won’t be long.

Giants lineup: After nine-run outburst on Monday, Bochy makes no changes

Giants lineup: After nine-run outburst on Monday, Bochy makes no changes

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for Game 2 of their series at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-32) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Ian Desmond (R) LF
6. Alexi Amarista (L) RF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. Jeff Hoffman (R) P

Giants (28-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Matt Cain (R) P (3-7, 5.54 ERA)