Giants hope to give San Francisco first title

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Mike Fontenot spent more than three years with perhaps baseball’s most cursed team, those lovable losers known as the Chicago Cubs.

It taught Fontenot all about long-suffering fans desperate for a championship.

Little did he know that when he got traded to San Francisco in August, Fontenot was joining a team with its own set of title-starved supporters.

“They’ve had the goat, the whole Bartman thing and everything else going on over there,” the veteran infielder said of the Cubs. “I didn’t realize that they hadn’t won here. I remember when they went to the World Series and watching the games in 2002. I guess I hadn’t realized it’s been more than 50 years.”

San Francisco might not get the attention for heartbreak that places like Boston and Philadelphia received until recently, but the city by the bay trails only Cleveland when it comes to the length of a World Series title drought.

Only two National League franchises have won more championships than the Giants’ five, but all of those came before the team moved to California in 1958.

“It would mean a lot,” former Giants slugger Barry Bonds said.

Bonds almost delivered in 2002, when he hit eight postseason home runs and helped San Francisco to a 5-0 lead against the Los Angeles Angels in the potential Game 6 clincher. The Angels rallied to win the game, then the World Series, extending the Giants’ anguish.

“It hurts,” said Giants special instructor Shawon Dunston, who homered to give them a 2-0 lead in Game 6 that year. “We had it and they beat us fair and square. It sticks. What hurt is I didn’t win a World Series as a player.”

He is far from alone when it comes to title-less Giants in San Francisco. The franchise was unable to win it with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal in the 1960s, Will Clark and Matt Williams in the ‘80s, and for 15 years with Bonds in the lineup.

Now, with a handful of homegrown stars and a bunch of castoffs and misfits, the Giants came into Thursday with a 1-0 lead in the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

“You have guys like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda who are in the clubhouse all the time, which still puts you in awe. You feel like you’re in the presence of greatness and you are,” outfielder Aaron Rowand said. “They talk about it all the time.

“They had unbelievable teams when they were playing here,” Rowand added. “But it takes a little luck to win too. They didn’t get as lucky as hopefully we will.”

Rowand is among a handful of Giants with a World Series ring, having helped the Chicago White Sox end their 88-year drought against Houston in 2005.

The Giants have come close a few times without breaking through. The most memorable came in 1962, when they made it to the seventh game of the World Series against the New York Yankees. In one of the most dramatic endings in postseason history, McCovey lined out to second baseman Bobby Richardson with runners on second and third and two outs in the Giants’ 1-0 loss.

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