I love this picture. This is Cody Ross, who was on 3rd base when Edgar Renteria hit that 7th inning homer in game 5 off the unhittable Cliff Lee to score the go-ahead run. In his mind, he had just won the World Series. He was jogging down the baseline, and before he touched home, he did a full 360, which he has just completed. Look at his face. He's in rapture.
I love this picture because at that moment, that's exactly how I felt.
Of course, I wasn't in Texas running down the third base line. In fact, I wasn't even in San Francisco. I was driving north from San Diego Airport in a rental car, listening to the radio. On the broadcast, the announcer seemed surprised that Renteria's blast reached the seats. It sounded initially like a deep but routine fly ball. Then all of a sudden, he called it gone.
At that moment I smashed the steering wheel with my right fist, honked the horn and screamed "Edgar!" as loud as I could. I was in complete disbelief. There were 2 on, with 2 out (after Pat Burrell pathetically struck out for the 10th time in 12 World Series at bats). The count was 2-0, and the announcer was suggesting Lee was pitching around Renteria to get to Aaron Rowand. All of a sudden, the Giants had, for all intents and purposes, won.
At that moment, my phone, on silent, buzzed in my pants pocket. I pulled it out and it was a text from The Doc*, which said simply, "clutch hitter." This was what Larry Baer and the Giants said was the great reason for signing Edgar to a 2 year, $18.5 million contract before the 2009 season. His lines in the two regular seasons: 2009 - 5 homers, 48 RBIs, .250 BA, .328 slugging. In 2010 - 3 homers, 22 RBIs, .276 BA, .374 slugging. He only played in 72 games this season, with 267 plate appearances. He was done.
He stunk, and got paid a boat load of money.
* Before I forget, The Doc had the single best line of the entire post-season. In game 4 of the NLCS in the ninth inning, with a man on Buster Posey broke his bat. He walked back to the dugout as the bat boy came out with a new bat. He bent over, checking out both bats as he faced the bat boy. Without a moment's pause, the Doc said, "Pick me out a good one, Billy." If you don't know that reference, you probably aren't reading this. if you do get that reference, you're probably laughing like we were. Great line, Doc. BTW, he proceeded to hit a single to right, moving the runner (Huff Daddy) to third. Huff scored the winning run on Juan Uribe's sac fly.
Bochy had to consider leaving him off the playoff roster, along with Barry Zito, or maybe instead of Barry Zito. And in the NLCS, he was worse - way, way, way worse. He was 1 for 16, the hit being a lonely single.
And then, suddenly, like the rise of the Phoenix, he started all 5 games in the Series, hit .412, slugged .765 with 2 homers including the biggest homer in San Francisco Giant history - by a mile. He was probably a unanimous MVP. Maybe Lincecum and or Wilson got a vote or two, but it was all Edgar, who created certainly one of the top 100 signature baseball moments of all time, and probably the number 1 signature moment ever for the SF Giants.
Worth every penny.
They say he may retire, and what a way to go out. Who ever went out any better? Sandy Koufax. John Elway. Maybe Randy Cross for you locals. Edgar has made something over $80 million in his career. His body is letting him down, and he really doesn't have the skills anymore. Edgar, go while the going is more than good. And every couple of years, he can come back to Telephone Park and be cheered to the rafters like Will and Barry and Mitch and the two Willies and Juan and Gaylord and all the former players we cherish so well.
Want proof? Did you see the reception for the Texas starting catcher when he was intorduced before game 1 of the series to the Giant fans? Bengie Molina got the single biggest ovation of the night, by far. We love Bengie. Hey, he's probably going to be voted a 1/2 share by the Giants in addition to his full share from the Rangers. And he'll get a ring, though not the ring he hoped for. He's thinking about retiring too, and I guarantee - after he does, he'll be back to be celebrated.
I was at the parade today. I didn't go to City Hall, but just based on where I was and what I saw, I guarantee you there were a million people involved in the celebration today. That might not be a lot in NYC, but the 7x7 that is San Francisco only has 777,000 people living in the city. People were coming in from all over NorCal. Caltrans stopped selling train tickets, and just let people get on the trains because of the delays the volume was causing. There were massive backups on BART all morning. There was orange everywhere (except on me, though I am looking for an orange Fear The Beard T-shirt.) It was crystal clear, 75 degrees, and glorious. It was the place to be.
I told that to Stephanie Salter, who used to cover the Giants years ago, and who now is stuck (bless her heart) in Terre Haute, Indiana, home of Buffy and Jody and Cissy. You had to be HERE. I wasn't here Monday night, stuck in San Diego on business. I missed the first 4 innings entirely, then caught the 5th inning on the Budget Rental Car TV (after checking in, I actually watched the end of the 5th before heading to the car. I heard the 6th and 7th on the rental car radio, and saw the 8th and 9th at the home of my clients, who I had to make turn the game on.
It just wasn't the same as being home, where I could hear Kruk and Kuip, and watch the local celebrations on Comcast and the local news channels. It was too sterile. You had to be HERE.
I'm here now, and if you look again at Cody's face, well, that's me and a couple of million more fans. I remember in 1975 that at 2AM I drove to SFO to meet the Warriors with about 2000 people to greet them after winning their one and only championship. Well, I'm a little too old for that now, though there were quite a few people who met the Giants at the ballpark at 4AM when the team arrived. My heart was with them.
They are the most lovable team since those Cinderella Warriors. I can only hope we keep most of the characters together for another run next year. Not just to win it, but to enjoy it. Because of all the teams I've ever watched, they enjoyed it like no other.