Giants fans took a lot of flack from the national media and fans of other teams when they adopted Chicago-style tactics (vote early and often) to place three of their favorites in the starting lineup of the National League All-Star Team. Buster Posey, the quiet, supremely talented young catcher who was rookie of the year two seasons ago, has come off a lost year after a horrific leg injury to anchor the Giants' lineup with solid hitting. He also handles one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and called Matt Cain's perfect game. Giants fans rewarded him with the highest vote total ever. The second highest vote total for the year went to outfielder Melky Cabrera, acquired in trade over the winter. After a breakout 200-hit year with with Royals last season, Cabrera has not slowed down, leading baseball in hits and batting average most of the season so far. His nickname ("the Melkman") has also inspired a cadre of devoted fans to dress up as milkmen at home games to celebrate his accomplishments. The biggest surprise was Pablo Sandoval at third base. A huge fan favorite for his outsized Panda persona but not well known outside of the Bay Area, Sandoval has had a solid season but missed several weeks with a broken bone in his right wrist.
Those in the know believed none of those players should have been starters, especially Sandoval, since Mets third baseman David Wright had a terrific start to the season. That Matt Cain was named the starting pitcher rankled the baseball world further, especially Mets supporters, since many believed Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey should have been given the starting nod.
As is often the case, the East Coast just doesn't pay enough attention to what the West Coast is doing. The Giants batters collectively went 3-for-7 with five runs scored and five runs driven in, Cain pitched two scoreless innings, Posey called and caught five scoreless innings, and Cabrera hit a home run and won the MVP award in the National League's 8-0 win over the American League.
I refuse to be humble about the Giants' contributions, or feel bad that maybe Wright, or Dickey, or Carlos Ruiz, or anyone else should have started ahead of the Giants' players. As I was growing up, the Giants typically sent only one player to the All-Star Game because they had terrible teams with generally mediocre players. In those days of no interleague play and very few nationally televised games, the Giants rarely appeared on the national stage, so the All-Star Game was a huge deal for a young fan like me. My guys usually got one at bat late in the game; I would just pray they did something interesting and not be a complete afterthought. On the few occasions they had a more prominent role, it seemed inevitable that they would fall on their faces (Atlee Hammaker, you deserved to be famous for something better). After brushing the sand off our faces kicked there by baseball's glamorous teams yet again, we Giants fans would go back to rooting for a completely irrelevant team.
Even now, I hear the Giants' 2010 World Series title referred to as "improbable" and "unlikely." Enough. Last night, Giants ran the show. They had a stellar June, they are a half game out of first place in their division, and they shown that they have talent both on the mound and at the plate to compete with anyone. The ten-year-old in me could not be happier. Even better, by contributing substantially to the win, the Giants' players guaranteed that the National League will have the home field advantage in the World Series.
There is a pretty fair chance the national media experts will be making arrangements to be in San Francisco for those games.