Baseball: San Francisco's 'misfits' walk among the giants with World Series win

Ticker-tape parade awaits unlikely champions as the City by the Bay emerges from the baseball shadows

They were the "Misfits" – a bunch of prospects, veterans and late-season additions who weren't supposed to have a prayer. Instead, for the first time, they brought baseball's world championship to the City by the Bay.

This morning half of San Francisco will take to the streets for the downtown victory parade of the Giants, when mayor Gavin Newsom will present them with the keys of the city. The route will be the very same one taken more than half a century ago, when the Giants arrived from New York in 1958. The franchise had won its last World Series title four years before. It was an earlier age of baseball, when the Giants played at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan, and not a single major league team was to be found west of the Mississippi river. Since 1958, San Francisco has waited and wept.

There was the crushing seven-game World Series defeat in 1962 at the hands of the New York Yankees. There was the 1989 sweep by Oakland, when Mother Nature intervened in Game Three with a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. Most bitter tasting of all, in playing terms, was the seven-game defeat in 2002 by the Anaheim Angels, in a Series the Giants simply threw away.

But that disaster is now forgiven, if not forgotten. With a 3-1 win in Game Five in Arlington, Texas on Monday evening, San Francisco defied the experts and shed the weight of history, routing the American League champions Texas Rangers by a resounding four games to one.

In some respects it was a fairytale upset. Beforehand, the Rangers appeared to hold most of the aces, literally and metaphorically. They had Josh Hamilton, baseball's most prolific regular-season hitter, and the intimidating veteran Vladimir Guerrero.

Above all they had Cliff Lee, the Rangers' top starter and scourge of the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, and apparently unbeatable in the post-season. With Lee on the mound, Texas could reckon on two victories in the bank before a pitch was thrown. Instead, the journeymen hitters of the Giants beat him twice.

And whose bat provided San Francisco with the three-run homer that won Game Five and the Series? It belonged to none other than the much travelled (and often-derided) shortstop Edgar Renteria, whose dismal performances in Boston a few years back earned him the nickname of "Rent-a-Wreck" from Red Sox fans.

After an injury-plagued regular season, Renteria wasn't even in the Giants' line-up when the team began its October adventure against Atlanta in the National League Divisional Series. At 35 and creaking all over, he is now said to be mulling retirement. If so, he will take his leave of baseball as the reigning Most Valuable Player of the World Series – the first Colombian-born player to achieve that distinction.

But method has also underlain the misfits' madness. One element – a terrific club-house spirit – pertains to team sports of every variety. The other is the Giants' adherence to the oldest rule of baseball: that, all other things being equal, good pitching beats good hitting.

The off-field chemistry owes much to Bruce Bochy, the wise Giants' manager, but even more to the players. "They had a will about them," Brian Sabean, the team's general manager, said afterwards as the champagne sprayed. "We have a lot of characters, with a lot of character." How different from 2002, when the Giants walked in the shadow of their surly superstar outfielder Barry Bonds.

Then there was the pitching: Tim Lincecum of course, with his long lank hair and whippet frame, who bested Lee twice. "Let Timmy smoke," proclaim World Series T-Shirts, in reference to Lincecum's well-documented misdemeanour on the marijuana front. But in this Series, almost every one of the Giants' homegrown pitching staff was smoking. Matt Cain destroyed the Rangers in Game Two, as did Madison Bumgarner in the Giants' 4-0 win in Arlington on Sunday that psychologically crushed the Rangers. And in Brian Wilson, the oddbod who dyes his moustache a forbidding black, they had a closer who locked the door and threw away the key.

Every Giants starter in the Series is 26 or younger. Wilson is only 28. If San Francisco keep the gang together, they may be a force for years.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Recruitment Genius: IT Projects Engineer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Account Director - OTE £60,000

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Inbound Sales Executive

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Inbound Sales Executive is required t...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent