After all this time spent watching teams concede their seasons, it's finally time to let the winner step up and enjoy the rush of a hard-fought victory. So without further delay, here's our friend Dave Tobener, who's always talking about the Giants at @gggiants and Golden Gate Giants. He had the pleasure of accepting victory for the 2010 World Series title team and also wrote the 10 best things about being a Giants fan earlier this year.
My fellow Giants fans: There are no words that can adequately express the joy I feel today. For the second time in three seasons, the San Francisco Giants — our San Francisco Giants — are World Series champions.
I stand here before you as a proud fan, readily accepting our team's ultimate victory; yet I am also a humbled fan, one who knows all too well the hardships we endured to get to this point in our history. As Giants fans we share a collective consciousness, one that before 2010 was filled with memories so painful that they only came in flashes to spare us the burden of fully reliving them. Images like Scott Spiezio's stupid facial hair were burned into our brains. We recalled past years not by personal memories, but by memories of what awful things happened to the Giants. We were a shell-shocked group.
Now, though, the team we live and die with has built itself into a perennial contender. We have a team that has won two championships in three years, and for fans like me who were conditioned to believe we'd never see the Giants win even one World Series in our lifetimes, this is almost too much to wrap our heads around.
Does it feel foreign or strange to you? Are you having trouble getting over the past and embracing the Giants' new identity as a baseball power? It's understandable. It's hard to wash away that much history in just a few years, even with the 2010 victory still fresh in our minds (hey, when you're one hit by Bobby Jones in a year 2000 playoff elimination game, the mental scars run deep). But if the 2012 Giants taught us anything, it's that no obstacle is too big to overcome. Surely we can let go of those bad memories once and for all and learn to be — dare I say it? — happy.
In 2012, the Giants were nothing more than a countless number of questions coming into the spring. There were new players in key spots (Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera) whose track records made some of us nervous that they wouldn't produce. The franchise cornerstone, Buster Posey, was coming off of a horrific injury with no guarantee that he'd regain the form he showed during his rookie year. There were young players like Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt being given important roles, and there were injury-prone veterans like Freddy Sanchez who were being counted on to provide more offense. Ryan Vogelsong needed to prove he wasn't a one-year wonder. Matt Cain was in the last year of his contract.
Once the season began, the Giants answered those questions in spades. Pagan had the best year of his life and broke the San Francisco record for triples in a season along the way. All Posey did was put up a .336/.408/.549 line en route to possibly winning the NL MVP award. Crawford and Belt solidified their spots as key members of the Giants young core. Vogelsong had another All-Star caliber season and was unhittable in the playoffs. Cain signed a long-term deal and promptly pitched the first perfect game in the history of the franchise. And just for good measure, Madison Bumgarner signed a long-term deal, too.
It wasn't all puppy dogs and ice cream for the Giants, though. No, there were hardships along the way. Sanchez never recovered from his injuries and didn't play a game for the Giants this year. Brian Wilson blew his elbow out early on and missed the entire season. Tim Lincecum struggled mightily throughout the year before eventually finding himself as a reliever in the playoffs. We were forced to watch Aubrey Huff play second base for an inning in New York, laughed when he forgot to cover the base on a groundball, cried when the team eventually lost the game because of that play, and then felt awful when Huff was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder and had to fly back home. There were probably other hardships that I'm forgetting ... let me see ... oh yeah, something happened with Melky. I don't remember what, exactly, since it was vastly underreported.
In all seriousness, the Melky situation would've wrecked lesser teams and sent them packing for October golf trips the minute it happened. The Giants didn't let it bother them; in fact, none of the hardships that befell them this season seemed to bother them. Instead they used them as rallying points and played incredible baseball down the stretch to distance themselves from the free-spendin' Dodgers and run away with the NL West. The professionalism of Marco Scutaro and the intensity of Hunter Pence, both trade deadline acquisitions, helped greatly. And the team followed the lead of Posey, who seemed to take Melky's suspension as a challenge and put the team on his back down the stretch. They won without Melky, distanced themselves from him as much as they could, and still easily made the playoffs.
And the playoffs — oh, the playoffs. We all know what the Giants faced and how they responded, starting with going down 0-2 at home to the Reds and then sweeping three games on the road to move on to the NLCS, beating Mat Latos in the clincher (and beating Mat Latos is never a bad thing). The Cardinals went up 3-1 in the NLCS and all hope appeared lost until Barry Zito (of course) pitched the game of his life and helped propel the Giants to a seven-game series victory. And in the World Series when almost every baseball writer picked the Texas Rangers Detroit Tigers to roll the Giants like a Little League team, the Giants flipped the script, demolished the ace of the staff Cliff Lee Justin Verlander thanks to Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, and dominated the Tigers en route to a series sweep.
Backs against the wall, the Giants fought and clawed their way to an astounding SIX wins in elimination games before destroying the Tigers in four. That's not what good teams do, that's what great teams do. And we have so many memories of this postseason's individual moments: Posey's grand slam, Zito regaining his form, Pence's pregame speeches, Sandoval's three-homer night, Scutaro hitting everything thrown at him after almost blowing out his knee on a Matt Holliday slide, Lincecum dominating, the bullpen being unhittable, Sergio Romo always shutting the door, Gregor Blanco saving games with his glove, and so on. It was a team effort from top to bottom.
Now, staring at what might be the beginning of a dynasty, we Giants fans are faced with the reality that our favorite team is the one all other teams are chasing. We can't claim our team as the underdog anymore, not after winning two championships in such a short amount of time. And that's a reality I'm very comfortable with, considering what we've all been through with this team in the past.
So my fellow Giants fans, as we accept this World Series victory I leave you with this: Don't be afraid to be greedy. We want more championships, more rings, more overpriced World Series shirts to buy. While we appreciated 2010, let 2012 be our statement to the rest of the baseball world that the Giants are a force to be reckoned with both now and in the foreseeable future. We aren't satisfied with just two. Our favorite team is hungry for more, and it's time to put the league on notice.
Embrace this team. Leave the past where it belongs and look forward to watching a team with young, dominant pitching and a core of young position players that will only get better. We deserve nice things, damn it. We can have nice things!
And when you get a minute, remind Dodgers fans that they haven't been to a World Series in almost 25 years. That's always fun.
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