Magazine article USA TODAY

They May Be Giants: The New Season Has Begun with an Unfamiliar Ring-That of San Francisco Defending Its Title as the World Champion of Baseball

Magazine article USA TODAY

They May Be Giants: The New Season Has Begun with an Unfamiliar Ring-That of San Francisco Defending Its Title as the World Champion of Baseball

Article excerpt

MOSES ONLY had to wander the desert 40 years before reaching the Promised Land; not so San Francisco Giants fans. When the congratulatory phone calls came in from kids from he old neighborhood (now men pushing the upper limits of middle age)--and likewise from college buddies I haven't seen in 30 years--it was, as my son's Russian teacher likes to exclaim, "Candy to my ears!" For far too long, the sole sweets on the national pastime's menu were sour balls--and lots of them. Having finally reached the mountaintop with last fall's ultimate triumph, the Giants, now that a new season is under way, officially have begun the next phase as W.S. winners ... that of defending world champions.

To reach the summit, the Giants first had to win the West Division (overcoming the San Diego Padres 6 1/2-game lead in the season's final weeks), knock off the wild card Atlanta Braves in the opening round of the playoffs, and then topple the two-time defending N.L. champion Philadelphia Phillies in the LCS--the latter matchup presenting an interesting juxtaposition, as the Giants are baseball's winningest franchise while the Phils are its losingest. While this is the Giants' only championship (so far) in San Francisco, it certainly is not the franchise's first brush with greatness.

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A member of the National League since 1883 (ironically, the same time the Phillies joined), the New York Giants won the Fall Classic in 1905 (over the Philadelphia Athletics), 1921-22 (over the Yankees, the latter the only 4-0-1 sweep in history; one game was tied when it was called on account of darkness at the old Polo Grounds, the home stadium for both teams), 1933 (against the Washington Senators), and 1954 (in a sweep of the Cleveland Indians, who had set an A.L. record with 111 victories). The Gotham Nine, as the sporting press liked to call them, reached the Series, but lost, in 1911-12-13, 1917, 1923-24, 1936-37, and 1951 .The setbacks in 1911 and 1913 were to the As, while the 1912 Classic was at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, who, in that decade, won four championships against a like number of different foes: the Phillies (1915), Brooklyn Dodgers (1916), and Chicago Cubs (1918) joining the Giants among the vanquished.

Meanwhile, the 1923-24 Series against the Yankees and Senator, respectively, make for a few interesting historical footnotes. Coupled with their 1911-13 run, the Giants are the only team in modern (post 1900) N.L annals to win as many as three consecutive pennants on two separate occasions, and the sole N. …

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