The Sports Informant

Your inside source for West Coast sports. Yeah, it rhymes.

Cast of oddballs helps form World Series winners

By Mike Selling
Sports Informant Contributing Writer

Once or twice every year, my mother makes a dish called “Under the Bridge”.

It’s a family tradition that was passed down from her grandmother, an impoverished lady from Eugene, Ore. who had many mouths to feed and little resources to do it with. It got its name in a simple manner, you grab anything under the bridge, and mix it all together in a pan.

“Under the Bridge” takes many basic things like eggs, onions, milk, potatoes, and even old dry bread, but comes together to form something that is much better than its parts alone.

In a way, the 2010 San Francisco Giants remind me of this dish. Yes, they have the eggs benedict of pitching staffs in Tim Lincecum and company, and a sensational rookie in Buster Posey. But those pieces alone can’t win a World Series, and if you ask them they will tell you they couldn’t have done it without other special ingredients.

These special pieces were players who had been acquired in the past two years. They were guys who were thought to be “washed up.” They were guys who were thought of as the “wrong fit” for other organizations. They were guys who were considered “not ready” for the big leagues. But much like my mother’s dish, when brought together in the right situation, they made up a pretty stellar bunch.

Sometimes, it doesn’t take the big free agency splash or the extravagant midseason trade to win a World Series. The Texas Rangers hoped that Cliff Lee would be the missing piece as C.C. Sabathia proved to be for the New York Yankees last year, and boy were they close.

The Giants used a different formula. They thought a bunch of veteran guys, some who had been there before, and some who had never been close, along with some younger players, might form the right concoction to do it.

They picked up veteran guys who other teams had slept on like Edgar Renteria and Aubrey Huff.

Renteria, the World Series MVP, was thought to be on the downside of his career when the Giants signed him after the 2008 season. He even had a rough time making it through an injury-plagued season in which he only played 72 games and had three stints on the disabled list. But when the World Series came around, he slammed two huge homers including the series-clinching one in Texas, and totaled six RBIs.

Huff contemplated retirement after the 2009 season because no one offered him a job. The Giants decided to give him an opportunity, and he provided for them big time throughout the season and in the playoffs. Huff crushed a ball into the right field bleachers in the third inning of the decisive Game 4 that sent them on their way to a 3-1 lead in the series. 

Instead of reaching for the front page names during midseason, they grabbed guys like Cody Ross and Pat Burrell.

Ross began the season with the Florida Marlins, but was waived in August when they came to the conclusion that he was not in their long-term plans. The Giants grabbed him originally to keep him from going to the San Diego Padres, not knowing the postseason implications. Ross ended up knocking in five home runs and 10 RBIs throughout the playoffs and was the team’s best power hitter throughout.

Burrell was released by the Tampa Bay Rays only 24 games into this season with a measly .202 batting average and was called an “ever present cloud in a clubhouse full of sunshine” by one Tampa Bay newspaper. He ended up providing some monster hits for the Giants late in the season, and helped the Giants out with four RBI’s and five runs throughout the playoffs.

Andres Torres and Madison Bumgarner also got a shot, and proved they were well deserving. Bumgarner, after being sent down to Triple-A Fresno for the start of the season because he couldn’t get his fastball to crack 90 mph, went 2-0 in the playoffs and pitched a shutout 8-inning gem in Game 4. Andres Torres played 12 years in the minors and got his first chance this year at the age of 32, crossed home six times during the playoffs and knocked in three RBIs.

Many a baseball analyst and fan said that the Giants didn’t have the right pieces to win this season. They said the Giants didn’t have enough bats, that they lacked a power hitter to send it into the seats. The moves they made were nice, but wouldn’t be enough to overcome the Padres, then the Phillies, then the Yankees or Rangers.

Well sometimes, just like my mom’s “Under the Bridge” dish, it only takes the combination of certain items to form something special. The 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants proved this.


Read more of Mike’s work in his blog “All Mike’d Up” at http://allmikedup.blogspot.com/.

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