SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: The San Francisco Giants celebrate after they beat the San Diego Padres to clinch the National League West Division Title at AT&T Park on September 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
I don't know what your relationship with the Giants is. Maybe you were rolling around on the ground, sucking your thumb after Bobby Richardson snared McCovey's line drive. Maybe you tagged along with a friend to the parade in 2010, and when you saw the masses exult, you thought, "Say, I can dig this …" Whatever. It's all the same. You chose wisely. And morally. You made the morally correct decision to follow the Giants.
I grew up with the Giants, but I didn't get goofy about them until 1996. You know the saying. Once you go Dax, you never go back. And in 1997, the Giants won an improbable, unbelievable division title. Barry Bonds jumped on the roof of the home dugout. Dusty Baker did everything but crowd surf. The team took a victory lap around the Candlestick outfield. It was glorious.
In 1998, the team played a 163rd game, just missing the playoffs. In 2000, they had the best record in baseball. In 2002, they won the pennant.
So when I first started blogging in 2003, this division-winning nonsense was no big whoop. There was no Hank Greenwald talking about "27 years of waiting" or Will Clark using naughty words. The Giants were on a roll at that point -- they hadn't finished behind the Dodgers in years -- and a division title seemed like a birthright, one that was only occasionally stolen away by all manner of lesser imps and demons.
Then came 2004. Steve Finley and the rest of the blue horde celebrated a division title right in front of the Giants. That also ended an era, even if no one knew it. That season was followed by 2005. And 2006. And 2007. And 2008. Miserable years, all. The good years were over. The dark years were nigh.
This site started in the dark years. We didn't know it. But its birth in January, 2005 coincided with a lot of bad baseball. Here, let me just pull a name from 2005 to prove it. Pedro Feliz. Oh, you knew about Pedro Feliz, sure. But he was the starting left fielder that year because Bonds was broken. In cinematic terms, that's the difference between Casablanca and "shaving your nose off with a straight razor." The gap in enjoyable baseball was wide.
That's why 2010 was so cathartic. The surprise march toward the finish, the bottom falling out from under the Padres, the 162nd game of the season … that's why it was so special. I'm not going to pretend like we were Pirates or Royals fans, but there was a sense of perspective. This doesn't come around as often as you'd like.
This year's team was supposed to be good. And, say, look at that, they were good. They were supposed to be good last year, too. No big deal. We knew this was a possibility before the season started, and it was realized. Whatever.
No, doooooooon't take this for granted. Don't look too far forward. Don't think about the 12.5-percent chance that the Giants have to win the World Series, the same as every other team that makes the final eight. Appreciate the long trudge it took to get here. Think about the days when Charlie Culberson, Brett Pill, and Emmanuel Burriss were in the same lineup as the Giants continued their unfathomable stretch with runners in scoring position, especially with two outs.
When the Giants lost that game, they were a game under .500, six games back, and the Dodgers were winning everything in sight.
Now imagine sidling up next to someone on May 16, ordering a drink, and saying, "You know, I'm from the future. And the Dodgers add Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Adrian Gonzalez before September rolls around."
That would have set off a pure, unadulterated Charlie Brown 'AAUGH', complete with beads of sweat shooting out of your forehead. There was a point in the season where the Dodgers just could not lose. Mercifully, it came before the stretch where the Dodgers most certainly could lose. And did. Often. lol.
The team that won the division isn't exactly the team you were hoping would win the division. Tim Lincecum struggled. Brian Wilson was hurt. Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro showed up. So did a lot of players. It was fun to watch.
Those years meant something, dammit. This one does, too.
There will be time to worry about a Bronson Arroyo/Ryan Vogelsong matchup, or a Gio Gonzalez/Matt Cain duel. Right now, though, revel in the best possible end to a regular season.