Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Triumph Of Joy

If you look carefully, you'll see a rainbow in that spray of water from San Francisco's fireboat outside AT&T Park. The pot of gold is inside the park.

There is a creeping sense of inevitability about the way the NLCS between the Giants and Phillies will end. You won't catch me making any bold predictions here, but is there anyone who's been watching this series who doesn't know the ending already? I didn't think so.

What makes this all so remarkable is the unlikeliness of it all. Sure, everyone knew the Giants had some good young pitchers, led by the wunderkind Tim Lincecum. Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez: lots of talent and promise. The poetically-named Madison Bumgarner: hey, he's young and maybe he'll amount to something someday. That was in April. Now, these guys are the most feared rotation in the game.

It's a collection of characters. Juan Uribe, the nephew of a beloved Giant, wore a bad orange dye job on his beard at midseason--and he's not even close to the zaniest guy in this bunch. Aubrey Huff shows up off baseball's scrapheap and makes the Rally Thong his talisman. Cody Ross arrives wearing eyeblack like something out of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and becomes a storyline for the playoffs. There's Buster Posey--is this guy real? Add in Brian Wilson, Andres "Appendectomy" Torres, and of course, The Panda.

These guys play baseball--that is, their joy is evident. The team is a mix of young guys who might not know enough failure to realize how good they have it, and veterans who've seen more than enough hard times to know exactly how good they have it. Pablo Sandoval's unbridled reaction after his Game 4 double put the team ahead said everything about the peaks and valleys of his young career.

The Giants last reached the World Series in 2002. That was during the Barry Bonds years. Sure, it was exciting then, but it didn't have the off-the-chart sense of joy that prevails this year. There are plenty of good baseball teams on the planet. But I'll take the joyous one every time.

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