Giants’ Wilson thriving in spotlight

Nothing brings a “Ho-hum, what’s new?” response more often from a Giants fan than using Brian Wilson and the word “interesting” in the same sentence.

Wilson has taken interesting to the limits ever since he first put on  Orange and Black — even before the beard — not only as a personality, but as a closer.

Anybody who was surprised by Wilson visiting Charlie Sheen this week has not been watching the Giants the past three years. Somehow, somewhere there has to be a Lady Gaga connection for Wilson.

Despite his run of eccentricities, nobody during the Giants’ 2010 world championship run transformed themselves into Superman more completely than Wilson. Brilliant is an understatement, and he got better as the spotlight got brighter.

After blowing his first save opportunity against the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series, Wilson recorded six saves in nine appearances without giving up a run. In his last six appearances, he only faced two batters over the minimum.

In the postseason, Wilson retired hitter after hitter by not throwing a pitch that could hurt him. He was willing to give up a base on balls if need be, but one swing was not going to beat him. And he displayed complete confidence that he could tempt the hitter into hitting his pitch.

He was masterful.

Which is not how Giants fans described Wilson’s first three regular seasons as the Giants’ closer.

Sure, he racked up big save numbers — 138 since the start of 2008 — but Giants fans rested easily in far fewer of those than they’d like to admit (at least after a World Series title).

The 1-2-3 ninth inning was a rarity for Wilson, and very few of his saves came without at least a few fistfuls of hair being pulled out around AT&T Park.

In fact, looking back at Wilson’s 48 saves last year, only 24 were recorded with him facing the minimum number of batters, with five of those perfect performances coming in one-out save situations.

Now, Giants fans can’t say they weren’t prepared for Wilson. Robb Nen always battled to the last pitch. So did Rod Beck.

So it will be interesting to see how Giants fans react as Wilson’s 2011 unfolds.

Will he be able to maintain his mastery of the 2010 postseason? Will he fall back into his night-in, night-out dances with trouble? Or will he succumb to the fears of fatigue and hangover that experts are tossing about in their 2011 predictions?

As always with their now-beloved, bearded closer, the Giants figure to be in for an interesting ride.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at

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