Some things are special. More rare are things Special, capital S, and that's the only way to describe what the Giants have done this fall.
It would have been too much for it to end with a Bryce Harper strikeout. The Giants' wonky, wonderful run into the National League Division Series has been a barely plausible Hollywood pitch as it is, Harper punching out on a 97 mph howler from Santiago Casilla would have irrevocably broken the Ridiculous Meter.
No big. A garden-variety groundout after a very wise walk of Harper, who very likely would have hit a mammoth six-run moon shot were the Giants idiotic enough to let him see anything to hit, seemed fitting under the circumstances.
It was a massive moment, sending San Francisco to its third NL Championship Series in five years and providing more kindling to the blaze that's becoming this Every Other Year deal. The means to the end, however, was nothing particularly Special other than the fact that the job got done under gut-turning tension. It was the defensive version of the Giants' offense in this series. Outside of Brandon Belt's historic homer, the local nine accomplished amazing things without being anything close to Special at the plate. Not in the neighborhood, of Special, not in the most faraway suburb of Special.
They scored on bags-juiced walks, groundouts, flyouts and, finally, a wild pitch. They shook up the lineup a tad for Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the game-as-hell Washington Nationals, but it didn't do much. Or did it? Again, it's that bottom-line thing. You're starting to get the feeling that the Giants have already settled on a clear postseason identity: Pitch like hell and MacGuyver it on offense, crafting rallies on street smarts, a near-empty theater-sized box of Dots, moderately frayed yarn and grape Bubblicious.
And they're diggin' it like mad, drawing a scary sort of strength from it.
<p>Ryan Vogelsong handled the pitch-like-hell duties in Tuesday's clincher, which sent another guy who pitched like hell in this series, Game 2 starter Tim Hudson, to the LCS for the first time in 16 years in the bigs. Hudson's brilliant career has been marred only by his team's inability — first in Oakland and then in Atlanta — to get past the first round, and his new teammates, whom he chose as his new teammates for the express reason of doing exactly this (despite more lucrative offers elsewhere) exhibited incredible class and respect by noting, specifically and to a man, that Hudson clearing that hurdle is a huge part of what's made all of this Special.
“It's not too bad,” Huddy said in the
Champagne-soaked clubhouse, struggling to keep his obvious emotions in check. “Not too bad at all. … It's the reason I came here.”
Vogey himself was Special. As was Game 1 winner Jake Peavy, who brought to the Giants' clubhouse just the perfect dash of redass redneck in addition to solidifying a rotation that appeared on there verge on implosion.
The infamous throwing error aside, Madison Bumgarner was Special, too. Ditto Yusmeiro Petit, Sergio Romo, Hunter Strickland, et al.
Bruce Bochy? Might as well do SPECIAL in all caps for that guy. Guys don't just want to play for Bochy. They want to be adopted by Bochy.
There will be more than enough time to break down the myriad obstacles the Giants sputtering offensive attack will face in taking on the St. Louis Cardinals' tough rotation and tougher bullpen. That won't take long, anyway: They're screwed.
Ah, but screwed on offense hasn't stopped these guys just yet. Neither has Bryce Harper.
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).