Programming note: For complete World Series Victory Parade coverage on Friday, tune in to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area at 11 a.m. and watch it STREAMING LIVE here
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Just remember, kids, while you’re blowing off work and watching the Halloween Parade of all Halloween Parades while standing next to your boss, who also blew off work -- none of this happens without Dan Uggla.
Sure, sure, Madison Bumgarner blah blah blah, and Pablo Sandoval ya-da-da-ya-da-da and Bruce Bochy this and Brian Sabean that and Hunter Pence nyah-nyah-nyah. Great seventh game rescues bland World Series, reapers cheated in Pittsburgh, Washington and St. Louis, a debatable dynasty . . . all of it.
But I’m seeing a ground ball up the middle in the third inning Wednesday night that is going to put Kansas City Royals at first and second and nobody out in a tie game. I’m seeing Joe Panik dive desperately to his right to stop the ball before its outfield destination, flip the ball neatly to Brandon Crawford covering second base and throw to Brandon belt at first to remove both Eric Hosmer, the man who hit the ball, and Lorenzo Cain, the dominant Kansas City Royal in this postseason.
[RELATED: Panik starts sensational Game 7 double play]
I’m seeing the last moment the Royals had anything significant to say about Game 7 of the World Series, and I’m seeing how Panik, the diamond in the cereal box, instigated the play, and then I’m seeing the man he replaced.
This is not to ask the nagging question about whether Uggla should get a World Series ring, or a full playoff share. Of course he should. He represents the last moment at ground zero the Giants spent before they (a) fully committed to Panik as their second baseman of the right-now, and eventually the future, and (b) justified the urgency to chase down Jake Peavy from his Boston scrap-heap.
In other words, Uggla represents the abject desperation that gripped the franchise at the end of July. And just as desperation fueled their 2010 World Series run, and how it propelled it in 2012 when facing a raftload of elimination games, it guided the Giants to their third World Series.
This is not about luck, or a dearth of competition, or any of the other things that would make Giants fans become cranky. This is about the fear of failure and no-other-cards-left-to-play worries that spurred Sabean to forgo his Panik timetable and take a flyer on Peavy, who looked as done as done could be in Boston.
And without Peavy, the Giants don’t get to the postseason. And without Panik, the Giants don’t have a whole infield. And without Dan Uggla, the Giants don’t feel the need to have a whole infield.
So yeah. Dan Uggla.
These three Giants teams are in no way dominant teams for the ages. They are not the Yankees or Big Red Machine or Hunter-Jackson-Bando A’s. Their championships are largely a tribute to chronological proximity, victories in player development, adaptability in the face of shortcomings, managerial aggression and organizational loyalty, sometimes in the face of common sense.
All slathered in a fine smoky barbecue sauce bought in a gas station outside Kansas City -- where the finest culinary delights can always be found.
Bumgarner’s performance is an absurd outlier, Gibsonian, Koufaxian, Lolichian -- a monument to the good old days when pitchers were prohibited from wearing out with any gas left in the tank. It was magnificence itself, but is no way to plan for a future.
Sandoval’s postseason glories are one part talent, one part walk year. Pence is a one-camera sitcom that goes heavy on sight gags but is always there when you need it. Jeremy Affeldt is a Swiss army knife that occasionally slices its owner but mostly cuts up other lineups one inning at a time. Bruce Bochy has a big head, and Brian Sabean’s hair is now so white his head can be used as an interrogation lamp in a cophouse.
There are lots of things that make the Giants the idiosyncratic success stories -- yes, stories -- they are. They started as a starting-pitching-heavy operation and then morphed as needs demanded. Right now, they are popularizing the one-starter-three-long-reliever-no-leadoff-man-fright-wigged-right-fielder-swelling-third-baseman-with-the-shrinking-strike-zone-bullpen-army roster construction -- and no, that is not designed to make sense. In many ways, baseball traditionalists don’t understand what the Giants are, how they got that way, or how they are likely to continue on that path.
But they understand Dan Uggla -- an earnest veteran whose needle just hit E a little sooner than he wanted it to, and became the low moment that turned doom/despair into solutions/success. That’s easy to figure out. The Giants do their best work when doing their worst work.
That, and Madison Bumgarner is a cyborg that runs on beer in bulk. Maybe he and Uggla can share the lead trolley.