Marcos Bretón

Giants: 'Wow' is only way to sum up magical finish

The Giants winning the World Series over the Detroit Tigers was a triumph of the game of baseball – the essence of the game – after years of addiction to highlight reel home runs.

That the Giants beat a heavily favored opponent that relied on the home run, and was helpless to adapt when Giants pitchers took that power away, is just part of the story here.

You might have missed it because the network that carried the 2012 World Series had little idea how to describe what the Giants did or how they did it.

You might also have missed it because a national media heavily concentrated on the East Coast was caught flat-footed as unfamiliar players in Giants uniforms neutralized the story they expected to see but didn't.

The Giants won by playing the kind of baseball that, save for a few exceptions, pretty much faded away during the era of steroids and the long ball – and the over-hyped coverage of that era.

The Giants won six consecutive elimination games and their last seven games of the postseason without a classic slugger, a Cy Young Award contender or an established closer.

That's almost never happened in more than 20 years of World Series champions, save for the 2005 Chicago White Sox and the 2003 Florida Marlins.

And even the '05 White Sox had Paul Konerko, who hit 40 home runs. The '03 Marlins had two sluggers – Derrek Lee and Mike Lowell – who each hit more than 30 home runs. No Giant came close to hitting 30 home runs in 2012.

Of the World Series champions since 1991, the dawn of the steroids era, only one champion scored fewer runs than the 718 by the 2012 Giants. Which team was that? The 2010 Giants, who won the World Series after scoring only 697 runs. By comparison, nine of the 14 World Series winners from 1996 to 2009 scored between 818 and 965 runs.

You have to go back to the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, who scored 693 runs, to find a team with less of the muscle and supposed glamour that took over the game until the current Giants took it back.

Yes, it's incredibly ironic that the former team of Barry Bonds – the one-time symbol of the steroids era – is the same team that went old school and won by turning away from muscle ball dominated by a star player.

It's also very telling that these Giants took flight after their best hitter, Melky Cabrera, was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Even though the Giants are built on pitching, their starters often didn't pitch great in the regular season. Though he battled courageously in the World Series clincher, Matt Cain was far from peak form.

The Giants' pitching was about the resurrection of Barry Zito's career – and Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum. Giants manager Bruce Bochy shuffled his bullpen after closer Brian Wilson went down with injury and he kept shuffling until Sergio Romo emerged as the closer.

And the Giants used advanced scouting to brilliantly position players to make plays. So when the Tigers crushed pitches, Giants outfielders Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence ran them down with their great speed.

The Giants won with very green players at first base and shortstop and with relievers such as Jeremy Affeldt, who is barely known outside Northern California. Catcher Buster Posey will probably win the National League MVP award, and he did have 103 RBIs, but his power numbers are more in line with MVPs from the 1970s.

What Posey does have is what Cain has and what Bochy instills – a selfless grit to do whatever it takes for the collective group to win.

When the Tigers couldn't win with the long ball, neither they – nor the media covering the series – knew what to do but say, "Wow."

Call The Bee's Marcos Breton, (916) 321-1096.