For those of you who did not realise the full glory of the San Francisco Giants' history, my estimable colleague Bruce has written an excellent piece to remind us. I will add that even newer fans of the club felt the void in the trophy cabinet. I came on board in 2001, witnessing Bonds break the single season home run record, and I was still fresh when the team lost to the Angels in 7 games in 2002. But you quickly adopt your team's pain – and there have been plenty of low moments since then.
But I don't want to talk about the past – I want to talk about the future. There are two things which I think the Giants victory teaches us, as we plot our baseball futures.
One is that pitching and defense really does win ball-games. It's practically a cliche, but the Giants proved it is also a practical plan for success. This edition of the club is built around the double-Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. He opened the post-season with a 14-strikeout effort in a 1-0 win over Atlanta. That game encapsulated the San Francisco experience – not much offense to speak of, but just enough timely hitting to back up the superb pitching. Matt Cain has laboured thanklessly for years at the club, his excellent ERA always being overcome by a lack of run support. But now he's a hero. This post-season, he did not give up an earned run. Let me say that again, because it's extraordinary — Matt Cain did not give up a single earned run in the entire post-season. Add into all of this the home-grown talents of Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner and the Beard that is Brian Wilson, and you have the core reason for the Giants success, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. As an example of the defense, I will cite first baseman Aubrey Huff, one of the off-season acquisitions. He made just three errors all season, fewer than Gold Glover Albert Pujols, and he actually played three positions. Overall, the Giants had the second-fewest errors of any National League team.
Huff also helped bring the X-factor to the club. No, not dodgy karaoke singing (although there was plenty of that at AT&T Park, with Journey a particular favourite). What I mean is that the second thing we learned from San Francisco's victory is that a team is more than the sum of its parts. There were no real marquee stars on the Giants team — barring perhaps Lincecum — and you could easily dismiss them as journeymen, cast-offs even. In my mind, for much of the season, Huff was a Baltimore Oriole, Juan Uribe was a White Sox player, and Pat Burrell was a Phillie. Cody Ross was the star of the post-season — and who the hell is Cody Ross?? But somehow they gelled together in a away that made them contenders, and made them Giants. In the post-season, the team occasionally racked up big scores, but mostly it eked out one-run wins. The timely hit was more important than a torrent of them — Uribe delivered several, but even the slumping Pablo Sandoval delivered when it was crucial. A good team can beat a collection of better players. That's something we can all remember when we next take the field.