By Jason Keidel
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Name four players on the Giants. Neither can I. They have a longhaired prodigy who spins Wiffle balls to home plate and a lumberjack closer whose beard bogarts his face like wild black weeds.
Many people jumped into the World Series only after Cablevision ended its embargo on our pastime, just in time to marvel at a marvelous story. Even the most jaded fans had to wink or nod at the San Francisco Giants, a team that matched its moniker when none of us thought they could.
They beat Cliff Lee (twice!) when neither the Rays nor Yanks could put wood on his pitches. Lee had become more than a hurler. He was a symbol, the fall freak whose left arm shredded dynasties. Above his divine talent, Lee morphed into America’s Pitcher, the buffer between the Yankees’ ravenous payroll and parity.
Pundits will point to stats, about Hamilton this and Cruz that. Ruth, Gehrig and Whitey wouldn’t have stopped these Giants, a team that got hot when the country got cold, swathed in destiny. There are no moves to counter a team that can’t lose. The “Football” Giants can relate, shoving a perfect Patriots team out the door in 2008.
For two decades baseball was defined by an endless montage of monsters, spawned by drugs injected into them by their brethren, and the equally morbid blessing from the commissioner’s office, consumed by Alfred E Newman’s “What, Me Worry?” refrain.
But these were different Giants, who stared at the Phillies and didn’t blink and didn’t think much of it. They simply played the game with the rampant purity and joy it deserves, killing the party plans for a frothing East Coast expecting a New York – Philadelphia redux. The Rangers and Giants ripped the entitlement out of the establishment. Greed, it turns out, isn’t always good.
Beyond the glow of a championship, the World Series beamed with symbolism, with Game 5 being a microcosm of the return to nuance. It was about a bunt with men on first and second, and a man who was supposed to be walked but wound up trotting around the bases, bringing a crown and a town with him.
And there’s the delightful irony of winning without Barry Bonds, the bulging feet and face of the juicing epoch, the leading man in a conga line of traitors who synthesized the record books. There isn’t enough ink to etch the appropriate asterisks over the harm they did.
But his former team did a lot to wipe the stain off the game and brush the taste from our palates. The Giants migrated west with the Dodgers, sharing a coast yet none of the fun. There isn’t, however, the residual rancor toward the Giants as there is with “Dem Bums,” who stole Brooklyn’s soul in 1958. And thus the Giants can party with impunity. I, for one, raise my glass to a team with class.
Indeed, we can toast to two teams. The 2010 Rangers and Giants were more than baseball squads. They are the emblems of everyman, a resounding salute to the proletarian. Even those who imbibe Yankee Pride should thank them. The little teams that could.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com