Standing on the shoulders of Giants

If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants. –  Sir Isaac Newton

Tim Lincecum on the shoulders of Giants

As I lay on my couch watching these San Francisco Giants celebrate last night, I could not help but think of so many of the Giants of years gone by for whom this World Championship means so much.

This rag-tag collection of misfits, brilliantly assembled by Brian Sabean, and expertly managed by Bruce Bochy, showed all of baseball the joy of the game, the excitement of the sport, without the poison of juice. With the exception of the pitiful case of Jose Guillen, who fortunately was excluded from the roster, we saw a group of individuals whose only use relation to chemistry was in the teamwork they exhibited.

Watching the performances of guys like Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross, Edgar Renteria, Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, Andres Torres, Javy Lopez, Juan Uribe, and so many others, not just exceed the expectations ascribed to them as role players, but pick up their teammates, if one momentarily failed, was the magic of champions.  To watch players make their web gems, take the extra base, play unselfish baseball proved to be role models for teams and athletes in any sport. They were a T-E-A-M to root for.

In 1159. John of Salisbury wrote: “Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.”

The dwarves in this story represent the future of baseball. Brilliant stars, and stars to be, like Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson, Madison Bumgarner, to name a few. They are the ones who are cherished today by the fans in San Francisco who never had experienced a championship before. But it was not for lack of effort. It was not for lack of men who were giants who preceded them. Guys like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Will Clark, J.T. Snow, Chuck Hiller, Tom Haller, Stu Miller, Jim Davenport, John Montefusco, Felipe Alou, Matty Alou, Jesus Alou, Jim Ray Hart, Tito Fuentes, Robb Nen, Jeff Kent, Robby Thompson, Roger Craig, Jeffrey Leonard, Matt Williams, Randy Moffitt, Hal Lanier, Dick Dietz, Bobby Bolin, Gaylord Perry, Don McMahon, Bill Rigney, Mike McCormick, Eddie Bressoud, Jack Sanford, Billy O’Dell, Jackie Brandt, Jose Pagan, Manny Mota, Jim Duffalo, Ron Bryant, Chili Davis, Jim Barr, Atlee Hammaker, Rod Beck, Dave Righetti, Dusty Baker, Jason Schmidt, Darrell Evans, Gary Matthews, Herman Franks, Tito Fuentes, and Bobby Bonds, to name but a few.

Then there the fans who deserve this championship. They embraced this team and shared the torture of winning. They hung in there in the same way they battled the blustery cold nights of Candlestick Park in years gone by. And congratulations are also in order for Giants president Larry Baer and managing partner Bill Neukom who didn’t just enable Sabean to make the moves to win, but kept this franchise alive and relevant over many years of economic stress.

‘’Nobody gave this pitching staff the accolades and they went out and dominated everybody,’’ Aubrey Huff said. ‘’We’re not here without the pitching staff, the bullpen, Brian Wilson, the whole nine yards. And offensively we’ve got a bunch of old guys, second chance guys, and you can tell it’s a true team.’’

A true championship team.

In closing, let me point out that perhaps it is not a coincidence that the brilliant Newton is attributed to the prescient quote that opened this homage to the Giants. It is actually possible that this 17th Century scientist was a baseball fan. You question my post-surgical Vicodin-riddled brain?

I offer as proof this anecdote found in St. Nicholas magazine, Vol. 5, No. 4, (February 1878), as repeated in Wikipedia:  Sir Isaac Newton had on his table a pile of papers upon which were written calculations that had taken him twenty years to make. One evening, he left the room for a few minutes, and when he came back he found that his little dog “Diamond” had overturned a candle and set fire to the precious papers, of which nothing was left but a heap of ashes.

Only a baseball fan would respond by saying, “Oh, Diamond! Diamond! Thou little knowest what mischief thou hast done!”

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, all their fans, and all of baseball.