Of course they are not the same players as those Giants’ team members who struggled so hard, say, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. But they are the people who have opted to pick up the standard, vowing not to let it drop. They are players who have consented to be identified with that team, for better or for worse–and until last night, it was considered a group of underdogs who, somehow, had made it to the World Series.
The struggle against sometimes overwhelming odds, even among “greats,” is ever-present. Take Edgar Renteria, the 35-year-old Giants shortstop: he’s the first Columbian to ever play the World Series. As recently as five years ago, he made so many mistakes on the field, sports show emcees nicknamed him “Rente-error” and “Rent-A-Wreck.” Given his age at the time, one might have thought he could not rebound to the position he occupies now, of having been named the series’ “Most Valuable Player.” It is well deserved praise, considering he is responsible for the three-run homer in the seventh inning that clinched the deal.
Yet to have so many errors on his record at age thirty, almost old for a baseball player, is NOT a good thing. He must have very quietly thought about hanging up his cap. That would have only been human.
I hate to focus on only one player, knowing how much every single one of those team members contributed to the win. Much was said, for instance, of Tim Lincecum’s amazing pitching abilities. Well, let’s talk about 26-year old Tim. Yes, he is dynamic. But he is also known as “the freak.”* His body does not seem to be as carefully controlled when he is pitching (or doing anything else for that matter) as other players–hence the attention to his “unorthodox mechanics.” He is a slight, wiry guy in a world of big men–that was very clear when, once the win was obvious, he ran out and threw himself into the jubilant team throng. He doesn’t look like a ‘giant’ and he has his own way of doing things, a way that he must follow because that is what his body dictates. Yet witness the velocity of his pitches!
Obvious lessons like “practice, practice, practice” and “never give up” are clear in all this–but so should be the lesson that these underdogs, before their World Series entry, were simply underdogs playing a game they loved without being considered the best. There is really something in that to pause over.
My greatest satisfaction, in watching and learning these details, was witnessing the expression on the team members’ faces at the exact moment of winning, which was kindly shown by the camera: from almost every player to the manager, a man somewhat older than Connie or I.
I heartily, heartily congratulate the team. I am so happy for them!
* Verducci, Tim. “How Tiny Tim Became a Pitching Giant,” SI.com, July 2,2008.
** Photo Credit–CNN