'02 Giants back to reminisce, claim 'Heartbreak' award
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 5:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 5:35 p.m.
Many, including the precocious rookie Buster Posey, said it in the immediate aftermath of 2010's crowning glory. The Giants winning their first World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958, their first since 1954 when New York was their home, is a gift to be shared by the players and fans of the past who endured epic disappointments almost too numerous to mention.
Indeed, if not for the 2010 team winning it all, today's 10th anniversary reunion and celebration of the 2002 National League champion Giants, while certainly sweet, would still leave a bitter aftertaste. As it is, though, while today's reunion can't in all honesty be an uninhibited ode to joy, break out your Tsuyoshi Shinjo bobbleheads and your Chad Zerbe jerseys because it should be a great deal of fun.
Of course, by having a reunion for a team that shoulda-coulda-woulda been San Francisco's first World Series champions does tempt the more morosely introspective longtime Giants fans to pick at some old wounds.
For example, while there can't be much of a debate about the 2010 Giants season ranking first in ecstatic, transcendent satisfaction, there can be a spirited discussion over which Giants season ranks first in heartbreak. And while many seasons are worthy of honorable mention (1959, 1965, 1971, 1978, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2003 among them), only two vie for the undisputed, uncoveted title of Biggest Bummer Spirit Crushing Horrendous Heartbreak, and 2002 is one of them.
What the 2002 team had was power (Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent) savvy supporting-role players (Reggie Sanders, NLCS most valuable player Benito Santiago, David Bell), speed (Kenny Lofton, a key, late-season acquisition) and defense (J.T. Snow, Santiago, Bell), starting pitching (Russ Ortiz, Kirk Rueter, Jason Schmidt) and a lights-out closer (Robb Nen). And let's not forget Dusty Baker, the winningest and most popular manager in San Francisco Giants history.
And even though the 2002 Giants got into the postseason as a wild card, the team won 95 regular-season games — nothing to sniff at.
What the 2002 team also had, after disposing of the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs, was a 3-2 lead in games over the Anaheim Angels in the World Series and a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 6. Going into the bottom of the eighth, the score was 5-3 but it was still a lead and the Giants needed just six outs to win the Series.
Some diehard fans might consider the following summary to be too disturbing, and they might want to avert their eyes:
Erstad homers off Worrell, Salmon singles, Anderson singles, Nen replaces Worrell, Glaus hits a two-run double, Angels lead 6-5, Angels win 6-5, Angels win Game 7, 4-1.
Ten years later, not as painful. Still hurts.
The other Giants team vying for the undisputed, uncoveted title of Biggest Bummer Spirit Crushing Horrendous Heartbreak is the 1962 squad.
What the 1962 team had was power (Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Felipe Alou), savvy supporting-role players (Harvey Kuenn, Tom Haller, Ed Bailey, Jim Davenport), speed (Mays, Jose Pagan, Felipe and Matty Alou) and defense (Mays, Felipe Alou, Davenport), starting pitching (Jack Sanford, Juan Marichal, Billy Pierce, Billy O'Dell) and a crafty bullpen (Stu Miller, Don Larsen, he of the World Series perfect game, six years earlier with the Yankees).
And even though the 1962 team won 103 games, its World Series ticket wasn't punched until victory No. 103, a 6-4 win over the Dodgers in the third and deciding playoff game, courtesy of a four-run ninth inning.
What the 1962 team also had, after six games, 13 days and four rainouts, was a 3-3 tie in World Series games with the New York Yankees of Mantle, Maris and company. Going to the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7, the Giants trailed 1-0.
More sensitive old-timers might consider the following summary too tragic, and they might want to divert their eyes:
Matty Alou gets a pinch-hit drag-bunt single, Felipe Alou and Hiller strike out, Mays' double moves Matty Alou to third, McCovey hits a laser — caught by second baseman Richardson.
Fifty years later, not as painful. Still hurts.
So, which Giants season ended with the most heartbreak — 1962 or 2002? Tie goes to the more recent. Congratulations, 2002 Giants.
And Happy Reunion.
Robert Rubino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Old School blog is at http://oldschool.blogs.pressdemocrat.com
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