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At Last, Giants Fans Take to the Streets

SAN FRANCISCO - They're taking over the streets today. Classic San Francisco. Not for gay rights, however. Or to legalize marijuana - that measure on the California ballot failed to pass Tuesday night.

Or to get the troops out of Afghanistan.

It's to celebrate the Giants' first World Series triumph in San Francisco. It's to celebrate success.

A victory parade. For a baseball team. For the baseball team. By a city perceived as weird and bizarre but that isn't much different from any other place in America.

Other than Haight-Ashbury. And the Castro. And, well ... maybe it is much different.

We've got some unusual individuals, and that doesn't include Brian Wilson. the Giants' supreme closer, who tore into the Texas Rangers' lineup in the ninth innings.

We've got our faults, and that doesn't include the San Andreas, from which the most famous earthquake in history tore into the city in April 1906.

But what the rest of the country fails to acknowledge is we also have our sports and our fans, and a passion for victory. As Brian Sabean, the Giants' general manager, an East Coast guy long in the West, finally agreed, "San Francisco is a baseball town.''

A baseball town with morning fog and double lattes and guys with long hair - and that does not refer to Tim Lincecum - sitting on sidewalks asking for a handout. But a baseball town nevertheless. Which is something no one might have ever believed.

As they would not have believed the San Francisco Giants, with no stars, with no support from the experts at ESPN or Sports Illustrated or the announcers from Fox TV, would win the World Series. Easily. Over the favored Texas Rangers.

"Wine, weed, World Series,'' is the way the clever Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram analyzed it.

Wine, legal. Weed, not quite legal with the defeat of Proposition 19. The World Series, legal and regal and, this time, historic.

No curse around here involving the Bambino or a Billy Goat. No group of fans who suddenly identify themselves as "Giants Nation.'' Just a lot of people who wondered why, after 52 years in Northern California, the Giants just once couldn't win a World Series.

They've stopped wondering. They've started celebrating. They called down the echoes. They brought in Willie Mays, age 79, who was on the last previous Giants team to win a World Series, 56 years ago when franchise was in New York.

They remembered the disappointments, in '62, in '89, in '02. And they poured the wine and smoked the weed and were just like any other city with a championship team. If crazier.

You heard and read during the World Series that the underdog Giants, who took the Series four games to one from the Rangers, are a team of outcasts and misfits. Or was it misfits and outcasts?

In truth, what they were was a team, and that, besides the winning, is why they so much appealed to Northern California a region of people whose ancestors crossed deserts and mountains seeking a better future.

San Franciscans always have done the impossible, coming across the Sierra back in the 1850s, building bridges across the Golden Gate and the bay in the 1930s.

It wasn't exactly impossible the Giants could win the 2010 World Series, but it was improbable.

Part of it was their personnel, people like Aubrey Huff or Edgar Renteria - Edgar Renteria, who was old (34), washed up and at $18 million supposedly overpaid. Part of it was the opposition, the Braves in the first round of the playoffs, the Phillies in the National League Championship Series and the Rangers in the World Series.

But World Series are won by people such as Chicken Stanley or Gene Tenace. Or this year, Huff or Renteria. World Series are won by pitching, and nobody - nobody - had better pitching in baseball than the San Francisco Giants.

The Rangers, in a Game 1 that was an aberration more than an indication, scored seven runs. They lost, but still they scored seven runs. In the subsequent four games, they scored five runs total.

They were shut out twice. They were befuddled. They were stymied.

They were beaten by Huff and Renteria, but more specifically by Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Wilson, a hero as much for a hairy chin dyed with shoe polish as a slider that had batters looking foolish.

How do you not win a World Series with Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda, all eventual Hall of Famers, in 1962 but then finally win one with Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Juan Uribe and Huff in 2010?

In San Francisco, the issue has become academic. The Giants finally have become champions. And the newest baseball town in America is loving every minute of it.

 

As a reporter since 1960, Art Spander is a living treasure of sports history. A recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award -- given for his long and distinguished career covering professional football -- he has earned himself a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was recently honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA of America for 2009.

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