Consider the headline above as a top candidate for "Title I never thought I'd write this season."
On Monday night, the San Francisco Giants completed what can best be described as a historic comeback, slaying the mighty St. Louis Cardinals to win the National League pennant. Prior to Game 7, the Giants had won only a single non-elimination game in this year's postseason.
They overcame an 0-2 deficit to the Cincinnati Reds, winning three straight games on the road to propel them into the NLCS. Then came the Cardinals, who got San Francisco into a 3-1 hole before Barry Zito toed the dirt in Game 5 on Friday night.
To be a team of destiny, things must set up in a way that goes beyond the probable and into the legendary. Barry Zito fits this requirement. His 7.2 innings of shutout baseball against a team as potent as St. Louis far exceeded the expectations of fans hoping Zito might last two or three before Bruce Bochy came to get him.
Not only did Zito earn redemption on baseball's largest stage, but he even helped his own cause with an RBI bunt single in the fourth. To put the rarity of that RBI in perspective, it was the ninth of his entire career (via baseball-reference.com).
Moving down the rotation, Ryan Vogelsong is another player who helped San Francisco make history in the NLCS. He won both of his starts against St. Louis, which is all the more impressive when you consider that Vogelsong entered the postseason having lost five of his last seven games.
You can credit the Rally Enchiladas (via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times), but for a player who only two seasons ago had washed out of the major leagues and was pitching abroad, the rise of Vogelsong is nothing short of extraordinary.
And then there was Marco Scutaro. Scutaro came to San Francisco in a July 28 trade that saw prospect Charlie Culberson get sent to Colorado (via ESPN.com). He appeared to be an adequate replacement for the second base issue that had plagued the Giants since Freddy Sanchez hit the disabled list in 2011. What he actually was is akin to how Cody Ross ignited the club in 2010 (and also took home NLCS MVP honors for his efforts): A player with talent but not a pedigree that thrives at AT&T Park and becomes the lifeblood of his squad during their playoff run.
You can't manufacture a player like Ross or Scutaro. It has to happen organically, almost by accident. Brian Sabean can spin his signing of Scutaro any way he likes, but you can be sure he never expected Scutaro to hit .500 and tie a League Championship Series record with 14 hits (via Fox News Latino).
Scutaro is the epitome of the destiny player, a figure who finds his team at a pivotal moment (roughly two weeks before the Giants would lose Melky Cabrera to his PED suspension) and delivers in a way that throws his career statistics out the window.
Baseball is a beautiful game. There is heartbreak and elation, and no guarantee that they'll come in equal doses. The Giants won a pennant that no one believed they could when Vogelsong took the mound in Cincinnati for Game 3 of the NLDS. The Giants won a pennant that few could imagine was within their grasps when Barry Zito stared down John Jay in the bottom of the first in Game 5 of the NLCS. The Giants won a pennant as their fans watched on in euphoria, rain driving down as Marco Scutaro caught a pop fly from Matt Holliday.
Destiny will get you only so far, and the Detroit Tigers won't be feeling very sentimental when they take the field in San Francisco tomorrow night. There is no way to know which team will prevail, but what we do know is that the Giants won't lose. They've already won. A championship would be wonderful, but there will always be a pennant marked 2012 to remind them of what they achieved.
That is the stuff of destiny.
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