sf giants 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Having lived in Israel for a number of years, I meet many North American olim
who still retain allegiances to their sports teams in the old
There is no lack of Yankees or Mets fans in Israel.
Occasionally, you might even run into a Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, Dodgers, or
long-suffering Cubs supporter in the Israel. Since I was born and raised in the
San Francisco Bay area, my baseball team is the San Francisco Giants. There may
be a handful of other Giants baseball fans in Israel, but I have yet to meet
In fact, though I follow the team religiously from my home in
Israel (mostly watching games online), I have not been to an actual Giants
baseball game in nearly a decade.
The last Giants game I attended was in
the summer of 2001 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. I remember being in awe of
the new downtown waterfront ballpark, a far cry from my youth spent watching
games in their previous home, blustery Candlestick Park. I recall that the
Giants won that game easily and I sat in the left-field bleachers I joined in
when fellow fans started heckling the opponent’s players, mainly young
Philadelphia Phillies left-fielder Pat something or other, with chants of
“Pa-tty! Pa-tty!” Fast forward ahead nine years to a week ago Sunday night in
Israel. My younger brother and I huddled around his computer screen in Ra’anana
and tuned into MLB.com’s broadcast of the Giants-Padres game. Not only was it
the final game of the regular season, but if the Giants could find a way to win,
they’d win their division and go to the playoffs for the first time in seven
These are not my father’s 1960’s home run-hitting San Francisco
Giants. There is no Willie Mays or Willie McCovey on this team. These are also
not my late 1980’s Giants with sluggers like Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell
leading the way. In fact, these Giants didn’t even bare a resemblance to my kid
brother’s Giants of the early 2000’s, who had the power bats of now retired
Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.
No, the 2010 Giants are built on pitching and
They feature young power pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Matt
Cain. They have a dominant, yet somewhat off-kilter, closer in Brian Wilson (who
sports a mohawk and has dyed his beard dark black).
The team’s catcher –
and clean-up hitter – is a rookie named Buster Posey, who was in the minor
leagues as recently as May; and its center fielder, Andres Torres, is a
32-yearold journeyman who returned to play the last week of the season just two
weeks after an emergency appendectomy.
What kind of team is this? There
is no A-Rod or Jeter on this team, but their power comes from players cast off
from other teams like Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross. Add to that a roly-poly
Venezuelan third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, nicknamed “Kung-Fu Panda,” and you
start to get the picture that this is not your standard playoff team.
what seems to set this team apart is that it is a “team.” Each night a different
hero emerges. It might be slugging shortstop Juan Uribe or lefty pitcher
Jonathan Sanchez, who was the winning pitcher in the 3-0 regular season finale
division clinching victory over the San Diego Padres.
This team wins
low-scoring close games, which was proven in the first round of the playoffs
against the Atlanta Braves where all the games were decided by one run. The
Giants, behind Lincecum, won Game 1 by a score of 1-0, and then won games 3 and
4 by identical scores of 3-2. In September, the club went 18 consecutive games
allowing three runs or fewer to their opponents – a streak that hasn’t been seen
in nearly a century.
But as my brother and I watched online and gave each
other high-fives in the quiet Israeli night, I realized something.
Giants team doesn’t just have to be my team; it can be Israel’s team.
Giants beat the Braves, in part, because they played better defense. Israel is a
country that prides itself on defense. Our army isn’t called the “Israel
Forces,” it’s the “Israel Defense Forces.”
The Giants are a team made up
of many young players along with some veterans.
Israel, with its mix of
new olim and Sabras, is much the same.
As for me, I’ll have a little
extra incentive to root for my favorite team in the next round of the playoffs
You see, I have some penance to perform before the
team can go for the pennant.
That young Phillies outfielder I heckled
nine years ago is now a savvy home run hitting veteran picked up in mid-season
by the Giants by the name of Pat (“the bat”) Burrell.
Go Patty! Go