|It starts with the
leader, who in the Giants’ case is a 35-year veteran
of baseball politics named Bruce Bochy. Boch, as players and media like to call
him, governed quietly but passionately, with a firm hand. When challenged by
critics during the long season he remained true to his principles, never wavering
or making excuses.
Other than a brilliant pitching staff, the Giants are a nation of few superstars;
they are a unit whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. To win, they
often had to reach across the aisle to find compromise – for example, swapping
outfielders in the late innings of almost every game to balance the offensive
strengths of some with the defensive strengths of others.
The Giants won with a roster of immigrants. Ross, Fontenot, Burrell, Lopez,
Ramirez – they were all playing elsewhere when the season began. Yet they
were welcomed by San Francisco players and fans based only on character and contribution.
When one, Guillen, made an apparent legal misstep late in the season, he was
gently cast aside, but not vilified.
It was a community in which young people like Posey and Bumgarner blended
perfectly with the game's senior citizens like Renteria, who emerged as the Series'
Most Valuable Player.
Asked during the champagne celebration what made this population so special,
Wilson, the Majority Leader of the Bullpen, said simply: They all arrived on
time every day, knew what had to be done, and went about doing it without complaining.
Sounds so simple doesn't it?
After more than five decades without a world championship, San Francisco voters
had every right to be frustrated. New ownership took over the Giants and pledged
there would be change fans could believe in. More players would be developed
within the organization, and a new sense of pride would prevail. But it would
take time, and fans who supported the effort would have to be patient, realizing
that previous administrations created a situation that could not be corrected
Ron Washington, the losing manager, was eloquent in his concession speech. “You
know,” he said, “I'm the leader of the Texas Rangers, but I'm only
as good as my followers, and my followers are pretty good.”
Meanwhile, on the political playing field – where the games really count – things
became more nasty and divisive as the season wore on. Team spirit was frequently
replaced by individual greed. Voters showed little patience after barely two
years of rebuilding.
Too often it seems that we’re better at sports than at many of the more
important things. That’s a shame, because Americans prove repeatedly on
the diamond that we really do know what it takes to win.
(c) Peter Funt. This column was originally distributed by the Cagle Syndicate.