Adversity is the word that has defined San Francisco's up-and-down season. They faced so much of it, and every time, they responded.
Closer Brian Wilson went down with an injury. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez was ruled out for the whole season. Melky Cabrera was suspended and wasn't reactivated, even though he was eligible for the NLCS.
Oh, and the Giants also had to deal with six elimination games, all of which they won. They are only 7-5 in the playoffs, yet they managed to fight off the Reds and Cardinals. Now, they are in the World Series, preparing for a date with the Detroit Tigers.
San Francisco trailed 1-0 in Game 3 of the NLDS, with elimination possible, and they fought to win. Gregor Blanco was hit by a pitch, and he got moved up by a walk and a bunt. Angel Pagan hit a sacrifice fly to center field, and Ryan Vogelsong fought through five innings. Buster Posey threw out Brandon Phillips trying to take third on a wild pitch. And the bullpen fought into the tenth inning.
Posey and Hunter Pence singled, and both advanced on a two-out wild pitch. An error on a ball hit by Joaquin Arias brought home the winning run, and the Giants carried their momentum into Game 4. They hit three homers en route to an 8-3 win, and Tim Lincecum got the win.
In Game 5, against the hated Mat Latos, Brandon Crawford hit an RBI triple. Then, Posey, the MVP candidate, hit a grand slam. San Francisco let Cincinnati chip away at the lead, but Rolen struck out and Romo did a little dance on the mound. The Giants had won the NLDS.
Are the Giants the Ultimate Feel-Good Story?
They had to be satisfied, not only because they had rallied but because they had received a number of contributions from a number of people. Crawford made a diving catch and hit a huge triple. Angel Pagan made a diving catch. Pence had a huge single (in Game 3.) Arias hustled on his ground ball and sparked San Francisco's first comeback. Lincecum stepped up out of the bullpen, and Romo got a save and a win.
Oh, and Posey, the batting champion, NL Comeback Player of the Year and likely the MVP, had that huge grand slam. Is that enough?
Maybe for you, but not for the Giants. Marco Scutaro, the man formerly known as a player to be named later, hit .500 in the NLCS series and won NLCS MVP. Ryan Vogelsong went 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in the series. Barry Zito, formerly known as the $126 million man, cemented his legacy in San Francisco with a 7.2 inning shutout in Game 5.
The team reminds Giants fans of the 2010 team, which received contributions from Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria and many others. They were the underdogs, although they didn't have to deal with the adversity the 2012 team had to deal with.
Torture was preached in 2010. Adversity is being preached right now.
You could argue that a team that just won a World Series in 2010 doesn't need another one, but that's not the feeling at all. This is a completely different team, with completely different players with completely different roles.
Do you remember Brandon Belt, Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford, Ryan Vogelsong, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias and Barry Zito on the 2010 playoff roster? Do you remember Tim Lincecum being a reliever, Buster Posey vying for MVP, Aubrey Huff pinch-hitting, Sergio Romo closing and Matt Cain taking the next step into ace-hood from 2010?
No? Good. Because none of that happened.
San Francisco is winning games because of big-game success, team chemistry and their ability to overcome adversity. This team loves playing with each other, and Hunter Pence's motivational speeches illustrated the love each player has with each other.
Yes, the Tigers and their 3-4 punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder stand in the way of a championship, and Justin Verlander will make it difficult to win by pitching two games. But the Giants will fight, and they will give it their all.
And, after watching the NLDS and NLCS, you have to think that the result will be another World Series crown.