There’s no way to take this for granted. After every one-pitch out from a hitter who should not have been in the big leagues, after every blown save from a pitcher who had no business being a closer, after every single to the outfield that couldn’t score a hitter from second, we wondered when things were going to get better. Draft days were serious business -- people freaked out and cursed the front office over the selections of amateur players that almost no one had ever seen play. If the Giants whiffed on those high picks, the spiral would continue.
So they drafted a skinny kid out of Washington.
They drafted a high-school pitcher when Beau Mills was available. Those horrible, horrible people. Didn't they know the Giants needed power?
A catcher in the first round? Maybe that will work out, but what if he isn’t able to hit for power? Seems kind of risky.
While these players were on their journey to the majors, the Giants were losing. And it wasn’t a graceful kind of losing. It was a dark void.
There’s no way to take this for granted.
Think about how many great stories there are on this team. Matt Cain, who just turned 26, is the longest tenured Giant, and he has suffered horrific loss after horrific loss. Aubrey Huff was unwanted last winter; he’s in the playoffs for the first time, largely because of his own play. A rookie catcher -- a rookie! -- came up and managed the staff to a legendary September while also being one of the team’s best hitters. Pat Burrell, as he’s fond of saying, could have been watching all this from home. Tim Lincecum’s career was obviously finished in August, at least if you listened to all the wrong people.
The eighth and ninth innings were locked down by homegrown products with questionable draft pedigrees. The seventh and eighth innings were locked down by mercenaries and deadline acquisitions. Jonathan Sanchez went at least three seasons without knowing if he was going to survive the trade deadline and offseason. The little pieces acquired by Sabean helped a bunch -- there wasn’t a blockbuster, but sometimes quantity over quality works just fine. Andres Torres just might be the most surprising four-win player in history. Sounds like a question for the offseason. What an amazing find.
Freddy Sanchez, who has watched a lot of bad baseball in his career, finally gets to see the postseason. Without his two-out, run-scoring hit, the Giants are probably still killing us with a 0-0 game. Every Eckstein at-bat could have turned into a bloop double, which would have been followed by a grounder to second, which would have been followed up with a sacrifice fly or a wild pitch. That was the fear, at least.
Man, this team, this disparate collection of personalities, has been absolutely amazing to watch.
And it’s easy to be magnimous after a victory, but, man, the Padres. I hated the talk about who the Giants should or should not prefer in the playoffs -- it’s not like the Giants were going to clinch, look up, and go, "The Pirates? How did they get here?" If a team wants to win the World Series, they will have to beat three good teams. That’s kind of the point.
But, brother, I did not want to see the Padres in the playoffs. Not because I hate the Padres, but because I hate how the Padres played the Giants. I hated how many good arms they had in their bullpen. I hated seeing David Eckstein foul off dozens of 97-mph fastballs to put a ball in play. I hated seeing Adrian Gonzalez play baseball because I couldn’t help but appreciate how danged good he was. I hate that a slappy goof like Luis Durango -- who didn’t even know that he was in a two-strike situation in the ninth inning -- can make Giants fans twitch with a ten-pitch at-bat against Brian Wilson. The Padres were good. They shouldn’t hang their heads.
I’ll try to write more when the feeling returns to my fingers. And I should probably take a shower -- pacing and sweating for three hours will do that.
The Giants are in the playoffs. The Giants are going to the postseason. The Giants have won the National League West.