Giants Sweep Tigers—And Shock Baseball World

by Randy Shaw on October 29, 2012

In a nail biting, back and forth game that fittingly was decided by a Marco Scutaro game winner, the San Francisco Giants showed the baseball world for the second time in three years that they are the best. Few gave the Giants a chance in this series, and even the team’s diehards did not expect a sweep. But pitching and defense win in baseball, and the Giants reminded us of how the Oakland A’s won three straight titles in 1972-3-4, also defeating so-called offensive juggernauts. Thanks to Mayor Ed Lee for opening up Civic Center Plaza for 10,000 fans to watch the clinching game, and the Halloween day parade and street party down Market Street this week should not be missed. Here’s how the Giants swept.

The Giants dominated this Series, which was as one-sided as we have seen since at least the 2007 Red Sox sweep. But the Red Sox were heavy favorites, while the Giants were underdogs.

What happened?

Overvaluing the Yankees

The biggest miscalculation entering the Series was overvaluing the Tigers sweep of the Yankees to reach the Giants. All we heard about was how the Tigers handled the Yankees but we almost never heard about how they were lucky to win their first two games against the hardly great Oakland A’s and were taken to five games in that earlier series.

The Tigers pitching was overrated, as was its hitting. And those picking the Tigers to win easily forgot that defense and athleticism wins championships, and the Detroit gang had neither.

The Giants beat the Tigers like the Mets beat the Orioles in 1969, the Reds beat the A’s in 1990, and how the Marlins beat the Yankees in 2003. Pitching and speed beat power every time.

Did anyone anticipate the revival of Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito just when needed most? Tim Lincecum pitching as he has not done all season, confusing batters as he once did? The Panda hitting three homers in a game?

It’s no coincidence that the Giants success has coincided with Buster Posey’s emergence as a future Hall of Famer. He led the majors in batting average this year, is sure to be picked as National League MVP, and has a competitive spirit that now embodies the franchise.

Three of the eight Giant starters are from Venezuela. No wonder Hugo Chavez was tweeting Pablo after Game one.

Remember when the season started and Brandon Crawford suddenly couldn’t field and Brandon Belt and Aubrey Huff could not hit at first base? Crawford and Belt are now set at their positions for years, giving the Giants what they lacked for years—-successful position players who came up through their system (add Posey and Panda and its almost the entire infield).

A Remarkable Run

After the Giants were two down to the Reds, the future looked bleak. The vaunted pitching staff seemed decimated, and our bats chose the playoffs to go asleep.

The third game of the Reds series, won in extra innings on an error by Scott Rolen, turned it around. But after the Giants were down 3-1 to the Cards with Barry Zito taking the mound in St. Louis, few saw a parade down Market Street in the future.

Zito’s performance that night altered the trajectory of his career, and the Giants season. The team never lost again.

Lincecum recently described Zito as like a “big brother.” Zito meant more to this team than many of us realized, and it’s great to see him finally get a World Series ring.

The Giants bullpen was unhittable. Closer Romo and starting pitching shut out the Tigers in games two and three and kept them under four runs througout

If you could pick any manager for your team, Bruce Bochy would be your choice in today’s era. He is too low profile and attention-averse to get the credit he deserves, but I cannot think of any manager in baseball history with a better handle on pitching changes.

And for all those who once feared Brian Sabean making trades, it may not be a coincidence how good his record looks since Peter McGowan left as managing partner. Left to his own devices, Sabean has been sensational. He doesn’t have a best selling book and movie written about him like Billy Beane, but he has two World Series titles.

Ultimately, the Giants win is a victory for the greatest fans in baseball today. Even Joe Buck admitted he has never heard a louder baseball crowd than at AT&T Park.

The parade starts down Market Street on Wednesday, October 31 at 11:00 AM. Do not miss it. Hopefully all school kids in San Francisco will be able to attend, and everyone who can get away from work should do so.

It’s the second title in three years, but the celebration will be just as much fun.

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