Team of destiny or just the better team? Giants finish off Rangers, win 2010 World Series

Following their 3-1 win in Game 5 of the World Series on Monday night, somewhere in this country someone started writing about how the 2010 San Francisco Giants were a team of destiny this postseason.

But their status as 2010 World Series Champions has nothing to do with destiny. They were just the better team.

In the NLCS, people expected the Giants to lose to the Phillies, who had the better offense, the better pitching, more experience, etc. But when the Giants knocked off the defending NL champs to reach the World Series, people expected them to succumb to the mighty Rangers, who had the better offense, a pitcher in Cliff Lee who never loses in the postseason, etc.

But it was the Giants who came up with the clutch hits. It was the Giants’ Bruce Bochy who outmanaged the Rangers’ Ron Washington. It was the Giants’ pitching staff that turned in one of the most dazzling performances that we’ll ever seen in a Fall Classic.

A team of destiny? The Giants were just flat out better. The Rangers, with all their power and with all their Cliff Lee, were absolutely dominated in four of five games. And that’s a good Rangers team, mind you. They didn’t get to the World Series by accident and something tells me that this won’t be this group’s last crack at a championship. They’re also a classy bunch from their manager (who heaped tons of praise on the Giants in his post-game presser), down to the grounds crew that let San Francisco fans celebrate on the field hours after the game.

But back to the Giants. It was rather humorous to listen to people use the term “lucky” when it came to this club in the postseason. Do you know what they had to do in order to get to this point? First off, they had to beat Mat Latos and the Padres on the final day of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth. There’s nothing lucky about winning 92 games, I don’t care if San Diego choked over the final two months or not.

There’s also nothing lucky about beating Derek Lowe (twice), Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, C.J. Wilson and Cliff Lee not once, but twice, including once with the series on the line.

Think about that for a second. The Giants, with their cast of misfits, went through some of the best pitchers from this decade in order to win a World Series. Luck had nothing to do with that. Luck also had nothing to do with this team being able to clinch every series on the road (Game 4 at Atlanta, Game 6 at Philadelphia, Game 5 at Texas).

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Jonathan Sanchez saves Giants, who reach postseason for first time since ‘04

San Francisco Giants Freddy Sanchez reacts after scoring a run against the San Diego Padres during the third inning of their MLB National League baseball game in San Francisco, California October 3, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

In the end, the Giants’ most inconsistent starter over the past couple of years was the one who saved their season.

Jonathan Sanchez lasted only five innings on Sunday, but he held the Padres to no runs on three hits as the Giants shutout San Diego 3-0 to win the NL West. Sanchez also sparked what had been a lifeless offense the past two days by roping a triple in the third inning off Mat Latos and scoring on a Freddy Sanchez (photo) single two batters later. Aubrey Huff doubled home Sanchez to give the Giants a 2-0 lead, while rookie Buster Posey homered in the 8th to cap the scoring.

The Giants have been waiting a long time for the talented Sanchez to put it all together and they were rewarded for their patience. He was nearly traded several times over the past two years, but credit GM Brian Sabean for knowing what he had and not selling low. He finished the year 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA and obviously saved his best performance for last.

It’s kind of amazing that the hero wound up being Sanchez and not Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain. That’s not a knock on Sanchez, but I’m sure many Giant fans thought it would have been Cain that won the deciding game on Friday night and not Sanchez on the final day of the season. And heading into today, I’m sure there were plenty of fans that thought Lincecum would have to save the season in a one-game playoff with San Diego on Monday. But Sanchez truly bailed the Giants out after Cain and Barry Zito were hit hard in their respective starts the past two days.

The Giants will now face the Braves next Thursday in San Francisco, while the Phillies host the Reds starting on Wednesday. General baseball fans may not be thrilled with the match ups, but it’s great to have new teams like the Reds and Giants completing in the postseason. Three of these four teams have great fan bases (sorry Atlanta fans, but on a whole you’ve proven that you don’t give a crap) and the energy in Cincinnati and San Francisco right now is fantastic.

This is, without a doubt, the best time of year in sports. Football and playoff baseball? Outstanding.

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