With misfits in place, Giants leave Bonds far behind
Sunday, October 24, 2010
PHILADELPHIA - The last time the San Francisco Giants were in the World Series, it was 2002 and the Giants' solar system revolved around one giant, surly star. His name was Barry Bonds, and the sheer scope and power of his radiance made everything and everyone else around him almost invisible. It was Barry's team. It was Barry's clubhouse. And when the Giants lost the World Series to the Angels in seven games, it was, above all, Barry's loss.
The Giants are back in the World Series now, after vanquishing the mighty Philadelphia Phillies in a six-game National League Championship Series, and if you have spent any time at all around both this Giants team and the one that Bonds carried into the World Series in 2002, it is impossible not to be struck by the vast difference in personalities.
The Giants beat the Phillies, 3-2, on Saturday night with a starting lineup that featured only one former all-star - shortstop (and No. 8 hitter) Edgar Renteria - and only two players (Renteria and first baseman Aubrey Huff) who were playing their same positions for the Giants on opening day.
They did it with a roster that Manager Bruce Bochy has taken to calling, with the utmost respect, a "bunch of misfits."
"It's the diversity, the contribution from everybody," Bochy said in the team's champagne-soaked clubhouse early Sunday morning, when asked what stands out to him about this particular team. "This is not a team that has one star carrying it. It took 25 guys to do this. They set aside their own egos or agendas."
In the center of the Giants' clubhouse, a circle of begoggled players began chanting "M-V-P! M-V-P" while pouring champagne and beer all over someone or something in the center of the circle. That person or thing wasn't visible at the time, but the identity was easy to discern. And soon enough, Cody Ross emerged from the circle, drenched and beaming.
Right fielder Cody Ross, a former aspiring rodeo clown and baseball's newest Mr. October, has come to define the Giants. And he has done so despite - or perhaps because of - the fact he is so new to their midst, a late-season add-on.
Two months ago, few of the Giants even knew Ross personally. He was toiling in virtual obscurity with the Florida Marlins, while they were fighting to catch the San Diego Padres in the NL West division.
"Two months ago, I thought I was going home [in October], to watch guys celebrate from my couch," said Ross, "and thinking about my next round of golf. It's crazy how this game works."
In late August, when the Marlins placed Ross on revocable waivers, the Giants claimed him - primarily as a strategic move to block the Padres from getting him. The Marlins still had the option of pulling him back and keeping him.
Instead, they let the Giants' claim go through - essentially giving away the man who would hit four home runs and four doubles in the first two rounds of the postseason, at times carrying the Giants' tepid offense.
"Not bad," Huff said, "for a garbage pickup."