Ray Ratto

Wait of the World -- Giants Win Series!


Wait of the World -- Giants Win Series!

Mychael Urban

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Edgar Renteria, of all people.A 35-year-old shortstop with said-to-be fading range and a blasted-by-fans-as-bloated contract delivered to San Francisco its first-ever World Series title.He got more than a little help from Tim Lincecum, who with eight innings of three-hit, 10-strikeout work did to the Rangers vaunted offense what Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner did in Games 2 and 4.
But it was Renteria who struck the biggest blow in the Giants 3-1, title-clinching victory in Game 5 on Monday at Rangers Ballpark. Batting a stunning .429 in the Fall Classic heading into the contest, Renteria blasted a two-out, three-run homer off Texas ace Cliff Lee in the top of the seventh inning to snap a scoreless tie, secure the World Series MVP award, and send the Giants to baseball heaven.Forget about Willie Mac's ill-fated line drive in 1962. Scott Spiezio, circa 2002? Grab some pine, meat.The San Francisco Giants are the 2010 World Champions.
And Renteria, reviled by critics as overpaid and underperforming since signing a two-year, 18 million contract before the 2009 season, had as big a hand in making them so as anyone.Only in October."I know how bad Edgar wanted it," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was serenaded on the field by 200 or so fans who made the trip to the Lone Star State and stayed in the sections behind the visitors' dugout for hours after the game."It wasn't too long ago we had a little talk, and he said, 'I just want to go out and win another World Series.'"That's right, another. Or did you forget about Renteria's Series-winning single for the Marlins back in 1997?"It's pretty incredible what he's done in his career," Bochy said."Same emotions, same feeling," Renteria said of his twin titles. "I'm just so happy my teammates can all have this feeling, too."Lincecum, a playoff rookie, certainly had it -- and deserved it.The dual masterpiece that everyone seemed to expect in Game 1 didn't pan out, as both Lincecum and Lee were knocked around a bit; Lincecum won on the strength of lasting a little longer and getting a lot more offensive support.The first six innings, however, provided a look at Lincecum and Lee at their absolute best."Two great pitchers, coming off games they probably weren;t too happy with, I had a feeling it was going to be like this today," Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez said. Lincecum -- who had faced three batters in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series just four days before his Game 1 start -- took the mound for Game 5 on his customary fifth-day turn. He looked much sharper for it. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth, and his pitch count through six innings of two-hit work was an economical 68, despite having walked one and struck out six. His primary weapon? A split-fingered changeup at its Bugs Bunny best, diving into the dirt as Rangers bats played the role of a flailing Elmer Fudd above it."Just awesome," rookie catcher Buster Posey said. "Incredible stuff from Timmy tonight."Lee -- who took the mound in Game 1 on an extra day of rest and repeatedly left pitches over the heart of the plate at AT&T -- was on turn in Game 5, too, and it showed.The Giants hit more balls hard off Lee than the Rangers did off Lincecum, but many of San Francisco's drives found Texas leather, and Lee's gorgeous, late-breaking curveball got him out of what very little trouble he encountered -- until the seventh.
"He was nasty," said the Giants unofficial postseason MVP, outfielder Cody Ross. "That was the Cliff Lee you expect to see every time he takes the mound."Yet Ross and Juan Uribe opened the seventh with singles, and Aubrey Huff's first career sacrifice bunt moved them into scoring position for DH Pat Burrell, who was benched for Game 4 after striking out eight times in his nine World Series at-bats.Burrell showed promise when he lined out to left field in his first at-bat, but whiffed again in his second. He came up empty again in the clutch, making it 10 strikeouts in 12 Series at-bats.But hitting behind him was the veteran shortstop from Colombia -- Burrell's performance opposite on the big stage. Again Renteria commanded it."He's a quality player," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You look at that lineup the Giants have over there, and Renteria, this wasn't his first World Series rodeo."Patiently laying off a pair of pitches he'd have jumped at during his frequent regular-season slumps, Renteria worked his way into a favorable 2-0 count and pounced on a cut fastball that neither cut nor was particularly fast (85 mph).As it disappeared behind the wall in left-center field, Ross jumped on the plate like a 12-year-old who'd been told his favorite player was sleeping over."I don't even remember what I did!" Ross said. "I just knew that the way Timmy was pitching. Wow, that was huge."When the stoic Renteria followed Uribe across the dish, Lincecum had a 3-0 lead. It didn't last.Nelson Cruz spoiled the shutdown inning Lincecum was seeking, slamming a solo homer to left with one out. The next batter, Ian Kinsler, drew a walk.At that point, Lincecum looked on the ropes, but he bounced back like a champ, striking out David Murphy and Bengie Molina to restore order and bring the noise in the stadium back down to a dull roar.Molina, by the way, went 0-for-3 against the ace he's credited for helping to develop when he and Lincecum were battery mates for about three seasons in San Francisco. Twice he went down on strikes, killing once and for all the notion that his intimate knowledge of Giants pitching would give the Rangers a Series edge. "They pitched so well," Molina said, and the numbers obviously back that up. The Giants scored 29 runs in five Series games. The Rangers had just 29 hits.Lee, who allowed six hits and struck out six, was replaced by Rangers closer Neftali Feliz for the start of the eighth inning. Such was the heightened sense of urgency in the Texas dugout.There was urgency in the Giants dugout as well. Lincecum, his pitch count at 92, was allowed to go back out for the bottom of the eighth, but as he did the San Francisco bullpen sprang to life.The two-time Cy Young Award winner didn't appear to notice.
Lincecum opened the frame with a 91 mph fastball and disposed of Mitch Moreland on three swinging strikes before retiring Elvis Andrus on a tapper in front of the mound, then Michael Young on a routine grounder to third.He needed all of nine pitches to get the Giants to the ninth. To the brink of history. To the brink of bedlam.That was it for Lincecum, who gave way to closer Brian Wilson for the final frame, and if the Rangers -- with their three most dangerous home-run threats due up -- weren't Fearing the Beard, they should have.Wilson whiffed Josh Hamilton to open his act, got Vlad Guerrero on an easy ground ball, then struck out Cruz to erase forever the torture of the previous 56 years and set off that bedlam.From Rangers Ballpark to the Bay Area and most certainly to New York City, where old-school Giants fans from back in the day surely shed a celebratory tear or two, there was pure, unbridled joy.And guess who summed up it all quite perfectly? Edgar Renteria, of all people. "It's unbelievable," he said. "It's unbelievable."

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team


If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

If the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe is right and the total eclipse of the sun is actually a harbinger of the end of life on earth . . .

- It’s good news for the Giants, who have been eliminated from the National League West race for less than 24 hours, or that they will not have to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers put their feet up on baseball for the first time in 28 years.

Besides, there won’t be any more years, so time becomes meaningless.

- It’s good news for the 49ers, who won’t have to endure a harsh week of practice from freshly irked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who finally saw exactly why the job came open for him in the first place.

- It’s good news for Raiders’ fans, who won’t see their team move to Las Vegas, and because they won't be soul-crushed if they can't beat the Patriots -- who will also die en masse despite Bill Belichick's entreaties to ignore the noise of seven billion terrorized shrieks.

- It’s bad news for A’s fans, who will never learn in what location their fabulous new franchise-saving stadium will not be built.

- It’s good news for the Warriors, who can say in their death throes that they were the last NBA champions ever, and that the Lakers will never get LeBron James.

- It’s good news for the Lakers because they cannot be found guilty of tampering with Paul George. It’s also good news for Jimmy Kimmel because he can’t lose a draft choice (some faceless F-list actor as a guest) as a result.

- It’s good news for the Kings, because they’ll never have to have the difficult meeting about Zach Randolph.

- It’s good news for the Chargers, because they won’t have to answer any more questions about why only 21,000 people were announced as the crowd for their second practice game, or to confront the very real possibility that they could become the NFL’s Washington Generals.

- It’s good news for the Jets, Mets, Nets and Knicks because the end of the planet is the only just solution for them all.

- It’s good news for Cal because it can stick its middle finger to the sky and say, “Here’s your $400 million debt. Try to collect it while we’re all dying.”

- It’s good news for Kevin Durant because he doesn’t have to slalom through the Internet trolls any more.

- It’s bad news for Roger Goodell, because he sure left a boatload of money on the table as he was hurtled into space like the rest of us.

- It’s bad news for Nick Saban because he will have never seen it coming. On the other hand, it’s good news for the people who cover Alabama football because they’ve endured their last journalism lecture from Prof. Nick on why they do their jobs so poorly.

- It’s bad luck for Jim Harbaugh because he will feel like a complete nitwit as he learns just what “an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” really means – the end of mankind.

- It’s bad news for all the sixth graders in America who are being offered scholarships that they will never be used by college coaches they will never meet. Of course, that would have been true even  if the world doesn’t end.

- It’s bad news for the hackers who have been spoiling Game Of Thrones because this is Game Of Thrones, only the dragon is the sun incinerating us all.

- It’s bad news for Kyrie Irving, because he will have died a Cleveland Cavalier.

- It’s good news for America, for the obvious reason that the planet will expire before our current political class can murder it.

- And finally, it’s good news for dignity, because the Mayweather-McGregor “thing” will never happen, and that alone means that even as we are torn asunder, we will know that the deity loves us all because both McGrogor and Mayweather are being torn asunder too.

Of course, if you’re reading this Tuesday, you’ll know the world didn’t end, and we’re just as screwed as we ever were. Oh well. Try to find your happy place, and drink like there’s no Wednesday.

Relationship between Goodell & NFL owners like Game of Thrones, only...


Relationship between Goodell & NFL owners like Game of Thrones, only...

The National Football League’s 32 bosses ruined all our fun speculation about Roger Goodell’s future by extending his future.

By extending his contract to 2025 – and, maybe more importantly, keeping his salary private so that we can’t use it as a club with which to continually brain him – the owners sent the message that, whatever the state of his petty feuds with allegedly powerful owners like Jerry Jones and Bob Kraft, they are unwilling to overturn the car to spite the roadway.

And he in turn takes great care to keep his supply lines covered, by keeping the majority of owners happy and well-insulated with barrels of cash. It’s Game Of Thrones, only less visually violent and more tactically prudent.

We mention this because as the Oakland Raiders slowly but surely transition to the Formerly Oakland Raiders, we remind you that Goodell’s two jobs are to provide the owners with what they want while making sure they provide him with what he wants. The commissioner doesn’t work for you, and he showed that when Mark Davis went looking for votes to leave, Goodell was giving him hints about what to do and not to do because, while the league might not have thought the Raiders were the ideal candidate to pry open access to the worlds of gambling and international high-rollers, they were the best available candidate.

And while you may want to be angry at him for not minding the needs of the Bay Area, he doesn’t work for you – never has, never will. He has his bosses, and you’re not them. It’s why, for all the criticism he takes – and maybe because he’s the one who takes it rather than his 32 bosses – he keeps his real constituency content, if not necessarily happy.

Now if you want to harm him, you can autocorrect “Goodell” for the names of the 32 owners. It’s clunky, and it unfocuses whatever your anger at the moment might be, but it would expose the real powers for whatever irks you at the time.

We’re not confident you’ll do that, too. Goodell makes a grand target – overpaid, slavishly devoted to oligarchs, willing to bend or deny reality to kick the liability can down the road – and that, too, is worth the money to them.