When one bounce of the ball can be the difference between winning and losing, it’s no wonder that baseball players and fans are so superstitious.
Whatever mojo the San Francisco Giants and their fans have conjured up must be really powerful because the team has won its third pennant in five years and is back in the World Series.
It’s reached the point it would actually be a shocker if the Giants don’t defeat the Kansas City Royals in the series that starts tonight. You could almost feel sorry for the Royals, a team that is a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs so far. Despite one of baseball’s lowest payrolls, the Royals are in the fall classic for the first time since 1985.
The Giants suffered through a similar drought between 1962 and 1989, even with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and other Hall of Famers. They suffered excruciating World Series losses to the A’s in 1989 and the Angels in 2002.
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That all turned around in 2010. The Giants didn’t necessarily have the most talent in that season, or in 2012, or this year. What they do have in abundance is confidence when they’re playing in October.
No matter what happens in the long regular season, no matter how insurmountable a lead appears, once in the playoffs, the Giants are hard to beat. Remarkably, they have won 15 of their past 17 postseason games.
This year’s run may be the most unlikely of all. They blew a 9½-game lead to the hated Dodgers and lost the division by six games. They struggled with injuries to key players. But when they clinched a playoff berth in the final week, you just knew what would happen.
The Giants blanked the Pirates in the one-game wild card playoff, disposed of the Washington Nationals in four games in the division series and dismissed the St. Louis Cardinals in five in the NLCS.
In the pennant clincher last Thursday, a team that hasn’t hit home runs lately hit three to score all six runs. Of course.
The first came from Joe Panik, the rosy-cheeked rookie second baseman who has exceeded all expectations. The second – a pinch hit that tied the score at 3 in the bottom of the 8th – came from slugger Michael Morse in only his sixth at-bat since Aug. 31, still rusty coming back from a serious injury. And the third – a walk-off three-run shot in the 9th – was hit by Travis Ishikawa, who almost gave up on baseball this summer before the Giants called him up from the minors late in the season.
There’s no reason this magic carpet ride won’t keep going for Giants fans, all the way to another title.
But it can’t hurt to wear that same lucky shirt as in 2010 and 2012, just in case.