There’s a great deal to process in understanding the scope and immensity of the San Francisco Giants sweep of the Detroit Tigers to become the 2012 World Champions. It’s not just the records broken or tied, the dominance over three quality MLB teams, or the Giants’ impossible postseason journey.
This is also about something that may be a lot more important: pure team play.
In an era when MLB franchises have exponentially grown in value, players routinely receive mega-contracts, and stars flip from one team to another simply to cash in, the 2012 San Francisco Giants actually played for each other, for their manager and for their fans.
Nothing better explains how they scaled one ridiculous ice-slicked, sheer drop, harrowingly high mountain after another to achieve greatness.
And it’s so much more than that tired pro-sports canard “team chemistry”. Did you ever hear any baseball, football or basketball player publicly state that his current team has bad, poor or zero team chemistry? Not unless they were on the way out, in which case I’m guessing team chemistry did improve shortly after.
Led by potential NL MVP catcher Buster Posey, the Giants already had a core of team-focused players when General Manager Brian Sabean sweetened the mid-season pot by getting Marco Scutaro from the Rockies and Hunter Pence from the Phillies. Scutaro would end up finishing third in the National League in hits with 190. He got 88 of those hits in 61 games as a San Francisco Giant, driving in a remarkable 44 runs.
Pence would only hit .219 in his 59 games as a Giant, but he drove in 45 RBI for a total of 104 in the 2012 regular season. But it would be the intangibles that Brian Sabean got from Pence that became true game-changers: a dramatically positive attitude in the face of disaster, and a fierce devotion to his teammates. None of that showed up on the stat sheet when the Giants were weighing their August trade with Philadelphia.
Pence surprised the hell out of everyone in the Giants clubhouse just before Game 3 of the Divison Series against Cincinnati, the Giants down and on the road after losing two straight at home. Inside the visiting clubhouse prior to the game Marco Scutaro and Javier Lopez prevailed on Hunter Pence to address the team. Pence gathered everyone around him and unleashed a super-charged inspirational sermon that rattled the lockers and made him a legend in Giants lore.
Pence’s theme was let’s play for each other, let’s win every inning, don’t give up because I don’t want to stop playing baseball with you guys. And of course the Giants went on to win the final three games against the Reds and move on to the NLCS. That spirit of checking egos and personal records at the door continued to drive the 2012 Giants through three sudden death games with the St. Louis Cardinals and their dominating sweep of the Detroit Tigers.
That’s why this World Series was different. That’s why the San Francisco Giants are different.