Analysts and fans alike had no problem throwing dirt on the San Francisco Giants as they were appearing to be non-National League West winning goats early in 2012.
Instead, talk centered on their bitter division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers and the upstart kind of year they were having with outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier at the plate.
The Giants hung tight in their division race all season long, closing in on a four game deficit behind the Dodgers on June 1st, eventually taking a one game lead over the Dodgers prior to the All-Star break on July 1st. A lead they would battle with Los Angeles back and forth for, ultimately pulling ahead for a comfortable eight game NL West lead by the time October 3rd rolled around.
The battle tested Giants were just that by the time playoff baseball was set to begin. The Giants endured cruel adversity all season long and yet they still found a way to grind out an NL West division title.
Adversity most franchises would crumble under, the Giants kept playing, even as the Dodgers loaded up on talent with new-found deep pockets.
The Giants had to focus on themselves because they had to overcome their own hardships throughout MLB’s regular season.
Beginning in April, they lost their identity man and All-Star closer Brian Wilson to season ending Tommy John surgery. They were patient with their All-Star ace Tim Lincecum as he fought inconsistency issues with an overall record of 10-15 and 5.18 ERA in 2012. The Giants continued to get piled on, playing through not one, but two trips to the Disabled List for All-Star third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Finally, suffering perhaps their biggest blow was the suspension of their 2012 All-Star game MVP and NL batting crown contender, outfielder Melky Cabrera, due to a failed drug test.
All of these setbacks didn’t faze San Francisco what so ever. In fact, it might have prepared them for the elimination scenarios they faced all throughout their NL playoff run. A run capped off by winning an improbable and record tying sixth elimination game, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in game seven of the NLCS last night.
Prior to their comeback from being down 3-1 against the Cardinals they had to face yet another adversity, finding a way to climb out of a 0-2 hole on the road against the National League Central champions Cincinnati Reds.
An adversity they would step-up to the plate and conquer without wavering. The Giants won three straight road games over the Reds to take the NLDS in five games.
The Giants give us little reason to doubt them heading in. They have had no problem facing adversity all season long, perhaps shaking adversity as well as any major professional sports franchise in recent memory.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1.