Before the sweet smell of Champagne has even dissipated from the Giants’ clubhouse after they clinched the NL pennant, it’s already time for the first pitch of the World Series.
And you know what that means: time for the Giants to be written off once again.
Las Vegas sportsbooks have pegged the Detroit Tigers as the favorites to win the World Series. And they’re not alone.
According to an ESPN.com poll, as of Tuesday afternoon and 154,000 votes, 67 percent of Americans think the Tigers will win. A state-by-state breakdown shows only California and Hawaii are believers in the Giants. Who knew Waikiki Beach and Ocean Beach had so much in common?
To a point, it’s logical.
The Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball (Justin Verlander). The Tigers have a Triple Crown winner (Miguel Cabrera). Hell, the Tigers even have royalty walking amongst them (Prince Fielder).
The Giants? Well, they just have a panda, a baby giraffe and a freak, right? So, so wrong.
At this point, anyone doubting San Francisco and the momentum pulsating from AT&T Park is foolish. The Giants have proven that they are never out of it. And then they’ve proven it again. And again.
Buster Posey was supposed to be limited coming off a devastating injury last season. The sky was supposed to fall when Melky Cabrera was busted for performance-enhancing drugs. When the Los Angeles Dodgers made more trade-deadline moves than Nicolas Cage has made bad movies, the NL West seemed lost forever.
In every instance, the Giants were left for dead by the masses. And every time, the Giants not only persevered, they thrived. And that was all prior to the postseason, where the Giants have played the maximum 12 games. It’s astonishing enough that the Giants have staved off elimination six times this postseason, but what’s more implausible is the manner in which they’ve done so.
In those six wins, they’ve outscored their opposition a combined 36-9. The only game they were really threatened was Game 3 of the NL Division Series, where it took a Scott Rolen error to give the Giants the win. Yes, Game 5 of the NLDS was dicey at the end, but the Giants were in control throughout.
It’s almost as if when they are pushed to the brink, the Giants flip a switch and playtime is over.
A large part of that mentality has to be credited to manager Bruce Bochy, who has been masterful at manipulating his pitching staff and his team’s temperament. And as a result, Bochy will be entering his third World Series, the second with the Giants. Bochy also guided the team that now closely resembles the “Bad News Bears” — the San Diego Padres — to the Fall Classic in 1998.
Since seemingly August, Bochy has played every game with a sense of urgency. Not afraid to shake up the lineup or yank a struggling pitcher early. It’s something St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny could learn from.
Bochy’s mindset, coupled with the leadership inside the Giants’ clubhouse, has repeatedly proven to be a winning formula.
So my guess is the Giants have one message to the doubters: Thank you. Because being counted out is exactly when they do their best work.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dkruse16.