12:55am PT by Tim Goodman
World Series Sweep - An Act of Greatness That Only One City Really Loved: TV Review
In the end it might be the World Series that mattered only to those people in a beautiful, picture-postcard little city tucked between an ocean and a bay. Nobody in New York will care that the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers the way the Tigers swept the Yankees. If you want revenge, you take it yourself. Los Angeles, Chicago, Texas, Florida, Boston -- only the die-hard purists there will really care.
And Fox? Oh, Lord, are they probably happy this World Series is over. Unless it’s the Yankees vs. Dodgers, there’s not much hope in the ratings. We are no longer a baseball country. We’re a football country and have been for decades now. The national pastime is a relic of the past, period.
And yet, wow, that was a whole lot of great television for Giants fans. In fact, it held appeal for anyone who wanted the underdog to win. You might say you're not the underdog if you win the World Series for a second time in three years, but when it comes to the Giants it sure does. They were the so-called Band of Misfits in 2010, and in 2012 they were the team that had absolutely no shot because their core strength -- pitching -- had all but abandoned them during the summer and into the fall.
How in the world do Giants fans (and baseball historians) explain the fact that Barry Zito, who was left off the 2010 playoff roster because he was flat-out awful, would be the guy who fueled the Giants from the brink of death? How do you explain that two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum – The Freak – was pitching out of the bullpen in the playoffs because he was so terrible all year long?
Oh, and World Series MVP Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval? Guess what he was in 2010? An overweight cheerleader who barely played during that World Series run.
Every other team was sexier. They were more powerful. Lots of other teams spent tons more money on players -- which did nothing to help them in the postseason. Ask them if they know Marco Scutaro’s freshly minted Giants nickname: Blockbuster. Sarcasm and irony always have played well in San Francisco, so it’s nice to see that an older veteran given up by the Boston Red Sox and the woeful Colorado Rockies would be insanely great at the plate, hit the cover off the ball and provide the hit that clinched the series. Heck of a deal at the trade deadline.
And how about Hunter Pence? Now he’s a legitimate star that the Astros sold to help rebuild their awful franchise and the Phillies bought because, well, the Phillies were angry that all their great players couldn’t combine to give them a World Series. Once they gave up on him, the Giants got him. You’ve probably heard the stories: Pence was the one who, when the Giants were facing imminent elimination to the Cincinnati Reds, staged apparently one of the most inspiring player speeches in ages and turned around the Giants, who improbably escaped death in Cincinnati. Baseball players being superstitious types, they made Pence give a speech before every game after that. After being left for dead in Cincy, the Giants were left for dead in St. Louis but came back to win the final three games. Pence, out of sermons, resorted to crazy, impassioned yelling in the dugout prior to games, jumping around like he was in a mosh pit and encouraging other players to dump sunflower seeds, gum, you name it, on the heads of Giants players.
Loose? Hell yes. They swept the much more fearsome Tigers, ultimately winning seven straight games to get the World Series trophy.
Credit both Fox and the MLB Network for really detailing what kind of miracle the Giants pulled off. Let’s not kid ourselves: The Giants always have been known for their pitching and not their bats. But their starting pitchers were throwing up all over themselves before the playoffs while the Tigers not only had an amazing starting-five rotation, they also had people who could hit the cover off the baseball up and down the lineup.
And yet – no contest.
If you don’t have a team in the World Series or, to a lesser extent, the Super Bowl, then your attention is limited. In this series, first game -- sure, you’ll watch that. Then you set the alarm for Game 7 or it’ll be Boredom City (if you're not in it). Well, this World Series seemed to be over before it started. Fox executives probably are still crying. But even if their announcers (and those on the MLB Network as well) had no idea that Gigantes (Giants in Spanish -- come on, people, it's California) was pronounced with an “H” instead of a “G,” they still did a marvelous job of giving the Giants their due, of telling the accurate story of a very timely comeback for the starting rotation (particularly Zito) and detailing how the entire pitching staff combined for one of the most jaw-dropping performances in the history of baseball, letting arms, not bats, decide this one.
But -- reality check -- this is primarily a City by the Bay story. Nobody else in the world really cares. The baseball season is over. Fox can go back to its regularly scheduled shows (and hey, Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project are really good), and a nation can keep its attention focused on the almighty pigskin, symbol of our country’s greatest sport.
Giants fans have a second title in three years. The city of San Francisco got enormous free publicity from Fox by showing the world that it’s one of the most beautiful American cities. Any real baseball fan is marking down AT&T Park as a must-visit location. And garlic fries, a culinary staple at the Giants ballpark, will take their place in the pantheon of great ideas.
Snore all you want over this World Series sweep. But I know what I’m wearing for Halloween. It’s orange and it’s black. And it’s awesome.