In 2010, the San Francisco Giants unveiled their slogan of "There's Magic Inside." I have to admit that I thought it was another in a long line of lame attempts at drumming up excitement around the team. Little did anyone know that the magic wasn't just on the field and in the stands but also in the front office. Someone in the marketing department had to have known that something magical was going to happen.
The season played out with significant magic, and the Giants won their first World Series since before they moved to San Francisco.
Early in 2011, it seemed like the magic may have remained as the Giants won a lot of games at home in walk-off fashion. But the magic faded and the Giants missed the playoffs.
Here are six ways that the Giants can try to regain that 2010 magic.
Freddy Sanchez hit .292/.342/.397/.739 in 2010 and played stellar if not nearly perfect defense at second base. Batting second, he had the type of season that spurs teams to victories and is irreplaceable in a lineup.
When Sanchez's season ended in June 2011 because of a shoulder injury, he was the Giants' best active hitter with a line of .289/.332/.397/.730, very close to his full season 2010 stats, and was again playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
Sanchez was a huge part of the Giants' 2010 magic, both on the field and in the clubhouse, on team flights, etc. If the Giants can have a healthy Sanchez in 2012, it will be a huge step in the right direction to recreate the 2010 feeling.
We all know what it meant to the Giants to lose Buster Posey's bat so early in the season, a blow the offense never recovered from. Similar to the loss of Freddy Sanchez, losing a player who is a born leader like Posey from the lineup, the dugout, the clubhouse and the road trips has a much broader, far-reaching effect on a team.
When he was grotesquely injured, the team, the fan base and the front office were stunned. They took a while to truly understand what had happened and the team reacted admirably for a while. The loss of Posey was too much over the long haul, though.
Posey will return in 2012, and his constant presence in the lineup and with the team will be a huge boost. Hopefully, it can go a long way toward rebuilding the strong clubhouse that the team had in 2010.
The Giants brought Buster Posey to the big leagues on May 29, 2010, and he was here to stay. His impact on the lineup was immediate and significant. Posey completely changed to dynamics of the team on and off the field, and he energized a fan base that was chomping at the bit for a winner.
Gary Brown has the potential to be the same type of a shot in the arm. Brown plays the game smart and fast. He takes calculated risks and has a high baseball IQ. If the team is lagging as June draws near, and if Brown is tearing up minor league pitching like he did in 2011, the Giants should consider revisiting the bold move they made when they inserted Buster Posey into the everyday lineup in 2010.
The Tampa Bay Rays discarded Pat Burrell because he never really caught on with them and was wasting a roster spot. On May 29, 2010, the Giants signed Pat Burrell to a minor league contract and sent him to Triple-A Fresno.
A week went by, and the Giants were convinced that he could still play the outfield, so they purchased his contract and brought him to San Francisco to play for the team he rooted for as a kid.
Burrell did a lot on the field to help the team, but his clubhouse presence was immeasurable. His longtime relationship with Aubrey Huff blossomed again in the Giants dugout, and it rubbed off on the rest of the team.
Burrell will most likely retire, and if that is the case, I hope he has a desire to stay in the game. If he wants to stay in the game, the Giants should hire him as a bench coach, his experience and influence is good to have around, not to mention his enthusiasm for the game and the team.
Aubrey Huff has a history of yo-yo-ing from one season to the next with his stats. In 2010, Huff batted .290/.385/.506/.891, and then in 2011, .246/.306/.370/.676. The 80-point drop in on-base percentage is brutal, and the Giants suffered for his lack of production, while Giants fans suffered through his endless parade of weak ground balls to second base.
Huff was a major part of the 2010 team on and off the field, and I have to believe that his inability to contribute offensively was reflected at least somehow in his clubhouse demeanor.
Huff is in his contract year, and the Giants would be over the moon if he can even sniff his 2010 production. If he can't, he may go the way of Aaron Rowand before the dog days of summer.
What better way to celebrate the diversity and weirdness that the 2010 team embodied than by facilitating a sea of crimson underwear on the shores of McCovey Cove.
I say this mostly in jest, but there is certainly something to be said for the quirkiness and oddities that came out of the 2010 Giants clubhouse. Teams that seemingly come out of nowhere to win a championship the way that the Giants did are usually a feel-good story. They stay loose throughout the stressful times because no one really expects anything of them.
The Giants went into 2011 with expectations both from themselves as well as the baseball world. The frame of mind for a team that is expected to succeed is completely different from one that is an underdog. The Giants will need to embrace their status as a perennial contender now but should hold on to some of that strangeness that was so endearing just two seasons ago.