A former home team on the brink of a championship

Open Thread: World Series Game Four
Fan Confidence Poll: November 1st, 2010

The days of baseball are quickly drawing to a close. An hour ago, I flipped my calendar to November, and forty minutes before that, Brian Wilson completed what Madison Bumgarner to bring the San Francisco Giants one win away from their first World Series since 1954 when they were New York’s third team.

As New York City baseball history goes, the Giants seem to be the forgotten team. The Brooklyn Dodgers are the lovable losers of yesteryear whose departure left a Walter O’Malley- or Robert Moses-sized hole in the heart of the Borough of Kings. The Mets are the scrappy upstarts. The Yankees reign supreme.

But the Giants — 75-year veterans of Manhattan — are an afterthought. No one waxes nostalgic at the catches made by Willie Mays in the Polo Grounds, the five World Series titles they took home, their quirky ballpark on the bluff across the river from Yankee Stadium. Three thousand miles and 43 seasons removed from their last year in New York, the Giants could win the World Series today for the first time since New York.

When the Giants left town, the final game was treated like a celebratory funeral. Milton Bracker of The Times wrote about how fans stormed the field, taking anything they could from the Polo Grounds. “The mass pursuit,” he said, “was touched off by affection, excitement, nostalgia, curiosity and annoyance at the fact the team next year will represent San Francisco.”

The Giants came to New York by way of Troy in 1883 when the upstate team folded. The National League moved the franchise to New York and called it the Gothams for a few years. By the end of the 1880s, the team had inherited the Giants moniker and were a powerhouse of the early 1900s. By the time the team left for the windier pastures of San Francisco, fans were calling for the head of the owner and for the adulation of Willie Mays. “Stay, team, stay,” said the banner in the outfield, but it was too little, too late.

Of course, attendance — and a new ballpark — were the driving factors behind the Giants’ departure. They drew just a million fans a year over the last few seasons of their stay in the Polo Grounds. New York would not grant them a new stadium, and with Minneapolis and San Francisco vying for a club, the team’s days in the Big Apple were numbered. In fact, the Giants announced their departure from New York a week before the Dodgers did, and while O’Malley and Moses engaged in a ballpark fight until the bitter end, Horace Stoneham just picked up his team and left.

Today, Giants fans still live in New York. In 2008, Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing outed himself as one on the Banter, and more recently, Corey Kilgannon tracked down some old-time Giants fans who couldn’t watch the game due to the FOX/Cablevision dispute. “A lot of us never stopped rooting for the Giants after they moved, and the loyalty has been passed down to younger generations,” 81-year-old Bill Kent, a former Polo Grounds worker and current head of the New York Baseball Giants Nostalgia Society said. “So the Giants have a big fan base in New York, but you never hear about us.”

Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps Wednesday, the Giants will grab that elusive sixth World Series title. They’ve been waiting for 56 years and two coasts to win it, and most New Yorkers won’t blink. Perhaps we should though as a team that once called our fair city home will bring a trophy to its West Coast environs years after packing up the cats and shipping west.

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Open Thread: World Series Game Four
Fan Confidence Poll: November 1st, 2010
  • dkla

    re texas: it’s incredible how quickly a team can go from looking unbeatable to looking doomed

    /opposition’s starting pitchers not completely shitting the bed’d

    • mbonzo

      There was no way Texas’ .400+ BABIP in the ALCS was gonna hold through the World Series. Texas has some amazing players, and an amazing farm system to look forward to but they were far from the best team in the post season. The Giants are a better team, and deserve to win the World Series. In 10 or 20 years I think we’ll look back at how amazing this Giants pitching rotation, it could be one of the best all time.

    • Yank the Frank

      Kinda like the way the Yanks looked against the Twins and then nose dived against Texas. You just can’t predict baseball Suzyn.

  • MikeD

    I’m looking forward to Monday’s game. If Lee is back in form, then the series is back to SF, with the Giants leading 3-2. The Giants are still in the driver seat, but I’d say they’re favored for game six, but I can certainly give Wilson a shot. If so, and the Giants don’t win game six, it’ll set up a very interesting game seven. Just who pitches for the Giants? Do they bring back Bumgarner on short rest? That’s probably their best bet.

    Bumgarner is quite the prospect. #1 pick of the Giants, and top ten pick overall at 17, made the majors by 19, pitched 2010 at 20, just turing 21 in August. He held a 34-6 record in the minors. I don’t think much of the Giants position players, but Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner is quite the trio to build on.

    • Brian

      i know Sanchez has been inconsistent this postseason but he is also very young and immensely talented
      the Giants have four young talented pitchers for the forseeable future, and could be a force to be reckoned with year in and year out if they can score enough runs to get to the postseason
      i really hope the Yankees can play them in the Series in the next couple years

  • http://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    The World Series is going on?

    • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

      Yeah you wouldn’t know if you were a cablevision subscriber

  • Hughesus Christo

    Someone needs to say it…

    FIVE ACES.

    Team controlled (one is unfortunate) four young, in a market than can support keeping them around. Barry Zito has his problems, but as a 4/5? I’d take it. Imagine if Sandoval hit at all this season.

  • China Joe

    Cliff Lee, before Game 4: “Sometimes the best go down, sometimes the worst teams win.”

    …and then sometimes the best teams get shut out by a 21-year-old. The Texas players need to quiet down that “we’re the better team” stuff. The Yankees didn’t pull that after losing the ALCS. Everybody was ready for the Rangers’ coronation after they beat the Yanks, but they’re not losing a bunch of fluky one-run games…they’re being dominated by a superior pitching staff.

    • Kiko Jones

      This.

      The Rangers are a talented ballclub but they won the weakest division in baseball in a year where their only legitimate competition—the Halos—failed to show up. You could argue, on paper, that the Yankees were a better team than the Rangers; Texas superior to the Giants. But you gotta play the games.

      Personally, I’m a big Lincecum fan—he’s my fave active, non-Yankee player—and because of him I’ve been following the Giants. That and the fact I can’t hate on an original NY team—and have no real link whatsoever to the Rangers—is why I want them to go all the way this year. (Also, Nolan Ryan looks to be a sore loser so to see his sour puss after the Giants capture the championship would be an added plus.)

      Btw, for a team that left NY more than half a century ago and that exists in a different incarnation I sure still see quite a few NY Giants hats ’round here. So I dunno how forgotten they are.

      And speaking of leaving NY, I was under the impression the Dodgers directly influenced and courted the Giants in so far as moving out west was concerned, so that the Dodgers wouldn’t be the only ones in CA and give other teams the incentive to play more than one team while traveling out there.

      • Pipes

        absolutely right on that. Part of the Dodger’s deal with MLB to move their club was that they had to have another team on the left coast. They talk bout this in the Brooklyn Dodgers documentary HBO did last year. Any NY baseball fan should check that out BTW if you haven’t seen it. I think it’s called Ghosts of Flatbush or something similar.

        • mike

          pipes is correct. my dad was an old giants fan and when I saw that Dodgers show on HBO, they explained the move just as my dad had years ago. There are a lot of people who remember the Polo grounds giants, or who have heard of them. They just don’t get the publicity. The Mets’ road uniforms and the “NY” logo on their caps is a tribute to the old NY Baseball Giants. I’d like to see them win the series myself.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for

        +1 on Ryan the grump. What a grumpy McGrumpster. I have enjoyed the looks of harrumph on his face immensely.

  • mark

    Until now I’ve never rooted for a Natinal league team to win the WS since I was 10 in 1953. I’m not doing so because of NOSTALGIA, but because i’d rather see the people in the Bay area happy than Texans, who are far more often to favor politicians and policies that increase human misery. And the thought of George Bush beaming on tv in the aftermath of a Rangers victory is the final straw.

    • larryf

      I agree completely with this even though some of us have been admonished for mixing politics with baseball (even though a 2 term Prez can do it). If any city in America will enjoy sticking it to Bush, it is San Fran.

      Also, I have an old timer friend named Gale (Boyd) Harris who played for the NY Giants and hit the last HR in the Polo Grounds for the Giants! He is 76 now.

      • kenthadley

        I remember Gale Harris, a 1B with some pop in his bat….often wondered what would have happened if the Gints had stayed and all of that talent that was to arrive (Alous, McCovey, Cepeda, Davenport, Marichal, McCormick, Kirkland, Wagner, etc) would have made them dominant for years in the Polo Grounds…

        • don draper

          I remember Kent Hadley, part of the Roger Maris trade.Hated to part with Hank Bauer though.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for

        Okay this is frickin cool.

    • Yank the Frank

      I’m rooting for the Giants. My father was a Giant fan and took me once to the Polo Grounds during the Mets first season. He hated teh Yankees but took me to a few Yankee games a year in the early sixties. I remeber seeing Maris hit one of his 61 in 61.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      Another +1, admonishment or no.

  • larryf

    Just thinking about this series and how easy it is to win when your pitcher throws a shutout. If we spent all our Jeter money and Swisher money and had 2 lock down starters to go along with CC and anybody else-don’t you think we could win with Nunez and Golson? I mean the Giant position players are not exactly Hall of Famers let alone All-Stars…

    • FIPster Doofus

      Or we could just, you know, keep Swisher and Jeter and improve the pitching staff. I mean, Nunez and Golson? Seriously?

      Teams win in different ways every year. There is no need to start mimicking the Giants just because their shitty lineup has come up with some timely October hits. Their pitching is great, but Sabathia-Lee-Pettitte-Hughes will be pretty amazing in its own right, and NYY – unlike the Giants – will have an elite offense to complement a stellar rotation.

      • larryf

        Yes-seriously. Teams do win in different ways and speed and defense and timely contact/hitting-along with great starting pitchers can get it done as well. We now have a potential Hall of Fame 2B who should be to us the next 5 years what Jeter has been for us in the past when we didn’t have a HoF second baseman. I hope we get Lee but Pettitte is no lock for success next year. We have enough offense without having overpaid long term guys at every position.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          We have enough offense without having overpaid long term guys at every position.

          At which positions do we have overpaid guys? In a vacuum, we had overpaid guys at short stop and third base in 2010, but Jeter’s production over the course of his contract was in line with what he was paid. So basically, we had one overpaid guy in 2010 and not overpaid long-term guys at every position, right?

          • larryf

            Yes Jeter and Posada but we will be hopefully fixing that shortly. Look-I like Swish-that wasn’t my point. it’s just that there are different ways to win but great starting pitching is the best way.

            • FIPster Doofus

              Sabathia-Lee-Pettitte-Hughes + plus top offense in baseball = great chance of winning

              • FIPster Doofus

                I didn’t mean to write “plus” after the + sign, but you get the gist.

            • The Almighty Binder

              Tell that to America’s Team, the 1990s Atlanta Braves.

        • Clay Bellinger

          Pettitte is no lock for success next year? Well true, no one is a “lock” for success in any given year…including CC, Lee, Halladay, and everyone else, but there is no reason to expect him to pitch poorly in 2011, if of course he pitches.

          • larryf

            38 and injured alot of this year is worrisome

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      Why do people think Swisher is overpaid? He’s going to make “only” $9MM next season and made “only” $6.75 this past season.

      And the Giant position players are much better than Eduardo Nunez and Greg Golson. Neither one of those players should be starting on a consistent basis for the Yankees (barring injury) and I’d be willing to be that Greg Golson may not even be a Yankee for much longer.

      • FIPster Doofus

        Swisher’s production is outstanding relative to his contract. A lot of fans have turned on him because of back-to-back poor postseasons. Stupid but true.

        • Clay Bellinger

          Yeah that really is it…his production has been worth significantly more than he’s been paid each of the last two years…he played well in the division series too…he just happened to have a bad week at the wrong time.

      • MikeD

        Swisher? Overpaid? While I’m not a huge fan of Fangraphs $$ value feature since the “science” behind it is all a bit murky, I do see that they rated the win value of Swisher’s 2010 season at $16.4 million, while he actually made $6.75 million. Oh, I guess it’s safe to say the ten million delta between value delivered and dollars paid screams bargain.

        In fact, the entire Yankee OF is a big bargain. Overall the team paid the trio $12.75 million in 2010, while delivering $52.3 million in value. All three provided more value than what the Yankees paid, and it’s not even close. The Yankees will have to pay the three approximately $18 million in 2011; another extreme bargain.

        The Yankees OF and how little they’re paid compared to what they’re delivering is a strength, and ranks among the best in the game. They’re also the youngest part of our team and under team control for several more seasons (more in the case of Gardner).

  • Donnie

    I’m actively rooting for the “other” G-men. My grandfather was a big Giant fan, and unlike my Mom and Dad and the Dodgers, didn’t stop loving them when they bolted west. He rooted for them until he passed, so for him, I hope they close the deal.

    • Pipes

      I came from a family of NL fans Brooklyn and Giants but my Dad became a Yankee fan (thank god) as his formative baseball years were the seasons when the Yankees were the only team in town…. I’m pulling for the Giants because my grandfather really loved them.

  • Weaver of Nightmares

    The Saints-Steelers game on NBC generated an 11.8. The pivotal fourth game of the Fall Classic managed a 10.4.

    Sad, I guess football is now America’s Pastime.

    Go Giants!

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for

    Good luck to the New York Giants of San Francisco!!

    Gints FTW!