In 2010, broadcaster Duane Kuiper gave the local nine a rallying cry that eventually stood as the team's postseason identity when, after a particularly tense midseason victory, he stuck tongue firmly in cheek and said, “Giants baseball: Torture!”
Five years later, after watching the team capitalize yet again on an opponents' miscue or misfortune on the way to yet another postseason victory, I stood alone my living room and said, to nobody in particular, something that might very well be an equally apt summation of the latest deep-October run:
“Giants baseball: Let the other guys screw it up.” These T-shirts are gonna fly off the shelves quicker than any panda hat in creation. Crank up the printing press, baby.
Game 1 of the National League Championship Series had that familiar feeling. You got the feeling, as soon as the Giants pushed across their first runs, aided in large part by a mistake that didn't even go into the scorebook as an error. That it was over. That the Giants have gotten what they needed, and they had gotten it in not-so-pretty fashion.
That's a testament, of course, to the sheer dominance of Madison Bumgarner. That's where the beauty could be found in Saturday night's game in St. Louis. Bumgarner had absolutely no reason to take the mound with anything less than the most confidence a pitcher could EVER bring to a mound, and sure enough, as he strode off that mound after the bottom of the first inning, every fiber of his being screamed, “I have been here too many times, and worked too damn hard, and have too much talent for anyone to touch me tonight or any other night for the rest of this month.”
And that's all she wrote. When the Giants were leading 1-0, it seemed like it was 5-0. When the lead was two runs, it felt like 10. Three runs? Please. You did read the part about this being Madison Bumgarner, right?
Not Jon Lester, not Clayton Kershaw, not the now-exposed myth that was “Big Game” James Shields. This was Madison Friggin' Bumgarner, an entirely different animal than plain ol' Madison Bumgarner.
Plain ol' Madison Bumgarner is a very, very good pitcher. Madison Friggin' Bumgarner kicks ass, takes no names, snot-rockets on your forehead and steps over you on the way to the bar.
The Giants' bullpen did an outstanding job Saturday, too. That's been a hallmark of every one of their three deep October runs in the past five seasons.
And it's not like the offense embarrassed itself. They put up a string of great at-bats against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who seemed on the ropes throughout, before being pushed into an early exit. The point is, that little flub on what should have been a double play wasn't the sole reason the Giants grabbed the home-field advantage with that monster first-game road win. They did a ton of positive things for themselves, played superb baseball all the way around and deserve the victory.
A gift from St. Louis, it was not.
But that little flub was big. And almost expected. It's just part of what the Giants do these days. Yes, they play good baseball. Yes, they've got a lot of talent. And, yes, they've got stones. Thank you for that, Huddy.
But they also seem to get some game-turning help, be it in the form of a bad decision or a bad or unlucky play. And word is out, so when it happens, the team that makes the mistake likely knows what's going to happen next.
The Giants will take advantage of it, and the Giants will win. They never get overwhelmed by the moment, but they know some other folks do. So they chill, hold the fort, until you set the fort on fire yourself.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).