Are the San Francisco Giants for real, or is this just a mirage?


San Francisco Giants fans are lucky to have been part of two fairy tale type seasons in the past five years.  For most fans America’s national pastime provides a pleasant backdrop for the heady months of summertime, a seasonal accompaniment to the slower pace of the year, coinciding with heat, swimming and the barbecue.  And for most fans, baseball seldom truly becomes the stuff of which fantasy is made.

There is too much competition for the prize to come easily.  There is too much opportunity for failure built right into the foundation of the game for teams to routinely contend for the title.  The role that free agency plays today, helps to ensure that one team can no longer dominate over a long period of time.  The concept of the “dynasty” is fading.

Therefore, when a season such as the one the Giants enjoyed in 2010 comes along, baseball fans must relish it.  They must be able to reflect back on the unlikelihood of the Giants clinching on the last day of the season over the San Diego Padres, against whom they had overcome a ten-game deficit in the standings, the last two months of the season.

Fans must remember how preposterous it might have seemed, that a bunch of “misfits and castoffs” could traipse through the playoffs, dismissing such powerhouses as the Atlanta Braves (say adios, chopster) and the Philadelphia Phillies.  And to defeat the offensive-minded Texas Rangers in five?  We’ll never see a finish that will top this one, we all said.

October 27, 2010; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) returns to the dugout after being relieved during the sixth inning of game one of the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers at AT&T Park – ©Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

And then, along came 2012, and the roadblock that the Cincinnati Reds presented, by storming into AT&T Park and taking the first two games of a five-game set.  The Giants then faced the improbable task of traveling back to Ohio, and doing what no team had done year that year: take three in a row from the Reds.  Isn’t that the stuff of fairy tales?

After the Giants dug themselves out of a hole in the opening series of the playoffs, they were handed the shovel once again by the St. Louis Cardinals, who had them buried alive after four games, down three to one.

In digging themselves up from the grave, they established momentum in the process, and took four straight from the well-rested Detroit Tigers, the heretofore, unstoppable force in the American League.

Pablo Sandoval gave us a no-fail plot for a story-book world series by hitting three home runs in the opener, two off of Justin Verlander, at that time the “best pitcher on the planet.”  Sandoval’s in-your-face response to the notion the the Tigers would walk all over the Giants, led to a four-game sweep.  Another work of fantasy?  That’s two.

Oct 24, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) is congratulated by second baseman Marco Scutaro (19, third from left) after hitting a two-run home run during the third inning of game one of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers at AT

Currently, the Giants are forging ahead with the best record in baseball, having taken those necessary steps to ascend to a higher level, despite the loss of Brandon Belt to a broken thumb, and a smattering of other minor injuries to key personnel on the club.

Are they on their way to a third title in five years?  Do you think I’m a fool?  I would never tempt the baseball gods in such an inflammatory way, by suggesting something so bold.

No, what I would say at this point in time, is to savor each game and the time that passes between each, and keep a copy of the standings posted strategically, so you can examine it any time you like.

I don’t need to conjure up images of fairy tales.  Cruising along at the one-third point in the season, with the best record in the major leagues, seven and a half games ahead of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies, is what I call living in a fairy tale world right now.

October 31, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Tony Bennet sings “I left my heart in San Francisco” in front of the San Francisco Giants team during the World Series victory celebration at City Hall. The Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers in a four-game sweep to win the 2012 World Series. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports