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Lovable Giants deserve title

My heart's with San Francisco.

I love the Giants and I hope they win the World Series. They take a 3-1 Series lead into tonight's Game 5 in Texas against Cliff Lee.

A lot of folks don't care about this 2010 World Series. We don't have high-profile teams from New York, Boston, Los Angeles or Chicago. There's no Texas Ranger Nation and the Giants don't have a galaxy of Cooperstown candidates. Executives at Fox no doubt would prefer the Phillies and Yankees, but I'm into the Giants. I'm into the city by the Bay.

The Giants have great uniforms, play in the best ballpark in the majors, in the best city in America. How's that for starters?

Did I say "starters"? How about Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner? They've already blanked the Rangers twice in this World Series. Texas was shut out only twice this season.

The Giants also have baseball tradition. They go back to New York City and their Hall of Fame manager, John McGraw, who refused to play the Boston Americans in the 1904 World Series. The Fall Classic was only one year old at that time and McGraw didn't want to dignify the upstart Junior Circuit by playing a "World Series.''

The Giants and Red Sox engaged in one of the greatest World Series ever played in 1912. Boston's Smoky Joe Wood beat Christy Mathewson in the clincher.

Today's Giants, like the pre-2004 Sox, have perfected the near-miss in October ball. On top of that, they have not won a World Series in more than a half century and have never won a championship in their San Francisco home.

Playing at the Polo Grounds, the New York Giants won their last World Series in 1954 when Willie Mays and friends swept the mighty Cleveland Indians of the American League. Mays supplied the signature moment of that series (and his entire career) with his over-the-shoulder, running basket catch of Vic Wertz's towering drive to center. The Giants moved to the west coast for the 1958 season and have yet to win a ring in the Golden Gate City.

They've been close. In 1962 the Giants won a best-of-three playoff against the Sandy Koufax Dodgers, then took the mighty New York Yankees to the limit in a rain-soaked, seven-game World Series. Mays and Mickey Mantle both had subpar Series and the finale was a 1-0 pitcher's duel between New York's Ralph Terry and San Francisco's Jack Sanford. In the bottom of the ninth at Candlestick Park, Willie McCovey came up with runners on second and third and two out and lined out to Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson.

The Giants didn't get back to the Series again until 1989 when they were swept by the superior Oakland A's. The '89 Classic is best remembered for a deadly 6.9 earthquake which struck the Bay Area minutes before the scheduled start of Game 3 at Candlestick. The Series was postponed for a week and the Giants never had a chance when it resumed.

In 1993, the Giants won 103 games but did not qualify for the playoffs (it was the last year before the wild card) because the Braves, then in the NL West, won 104.

In 2002 the Giants were poised to finally win a championship for San Francisco. They led the Angels three games to two and had a 5-0 lead in Game 6. But the Angels rallied to win Game 6, then rode the pitching of rookie John Lackey to win Game 7. The Giants were foiled again.

Not much was expected of them this year. Bruce Bochey's team was 41-40 on July 4. The Giants have a lot of youngsters and retreads. They are offensively challenged. They are masters of the one-run game which is why their tortured fans were surprised to see them score 20 runs and win a couple of blowouts in the first two games of this World Series.

But it's hard not to love them. What's not to love about a manager who wears a hat which measures 8 3/4 inches? Edgar Renteria was all done, but he is a born-again stabilizing force in the Giants infield. Nobody wanted Aubrey Huff, but he led the Giants in homers this year and hit a two-run shot in Texas Sunday night. Jose Uribe swings madly at everything. Pablo Sandoval looks like he ate China Beach. Two years ago, Giants rookie Buster Posey was catching for Florida State against Boston College at Commander Shea Field in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Lincecum looks like a Stoner from a John Hughes Film and closer Brian Wilson bears some resemblance to Abraham Lincoln.

Another thing I love about the Giants is that they embrace their history. They do not run and hide from their New York roots. They honor Monte Irvin the same way they honor Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Willie McCovey. They even let Barry Bonds back into the ballpark.

And now they are on the brink of finally winning a World Series for San Francisco.

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