Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Giants’ 2012 World Series sweep today from 8 a.m. PT to 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.
It was about 4 a.m. when my boss called, and as I stepped into a hallway at the Renaissance Center Marriott, the lobby party was still going. The end of a World Series is a release for the players physically and mentally, but the same holds true for the media and all the behind the scenes staffers who are there every day that extra month.
You spend a month working long days and nights, eating dinners out of sandwich boxes handed out in the press box — the good days are the ones when you get there early and snag a chicken pesto — and planning your travel a day at a time. Earlier in that 2012 postseason, I sat in the lobby restaurant at the Cincinnati Westin and watched the Giants file out and head for the airport. They were on the tarmac when the Cardinals beat the Nationals and they found out they were going home instead of to D.C., and I quickly canceled my flight to the nation’s capital and smiled as I realized I didn’t have to buy a winter coat the next morning on the way to the airport.
So when the World Series is finally over, it’s a release and a bit of a party, and the Renaissance Center in Detroit was ready for the dozens of reporters who descended upon the lobby after Game 4. It was a nice home for beat writers that week, mostly because it was freezing outside and you didn’t have to leave the building to find food. There was a food court in the lobby of the massive building, and you can’t ask for much more than that when the temperature outside is in the 30s. I ate a lot of chicken nuggets that week.
The lobby was rocking that final night, because there’s not much to do in downtown Detroit even when it’s warm. But I was pulled away when my boss called and asked an urgent question.
“Have you been paying attention to Hurricane Sandy?” he asked.
I hadn’t. It was cold in Detroit and wet at times over the previous couple of days, but anyone there was focused on the Giants and the Tigers. I didn’t realize how bad Sandy had gotten, and when I think back to that 2012 World Series — which will air today on NBC Sports Bay Area — that’s what I remember the most.
Sure, there was Pablo Sandoval’s three-homer game and Ryan Theriot’s slide into the plate. Barry Zito beat Justin Verlander and Sergio Romo froze Miguel Cabrera, but what I have always remembered most about that week was a mad scramble to get out of town before the airports shut down, and the words a young Buster Posey said earlier that night after the Giants had completed the sweep.
“It was a big win — I know that sounds silly,” Posey said, his voice getting serious in the middle of a celebration. “But they would have had Verlander tomorrow.”
I’ve always thought about the last part of that quote. On paper, the 2012 World Series was a demolition, but a playoff series can turn on one hit, as the Giants proved that entire month. They won a record six elimination games to reach the World Series, stunning the Reds and then the Cardinals. They ended the postseason with seven straight wins, outscoring the Cardinals and Tigers 36-7, but Posey knew that they couldn’t give the Tigers any kind of opening.
With a win in Game 4, the Tigers could have regrouped, and they would have lined up behind Verlander, who finished second for the Cy Young that year. The Giants also knew the weather was coming, and it would hit hard. The day after Game 4, waves on Lake Michigan hit 20 feet and schools outside of Detroit closed because of power outages. The World Series likely would have been disrupted, and perhaps a loaded Tigers team would have regrouped.
The Tigers had Verlander and Max Scherzer in their rotation, along with midseason addition Anibal Sanchez and the underrated Doug Fister. Current Giant Drew Smyly had a 3.99 ERA that season but the rotation was so stacked he was sent to the bullpen. The lineup featured Cabrera, the MVP, and Prince Fielder, who hit 30 homers in the regular season.
That was a really good team, one the Giants couldn’t afford to let off the mat. They stunned the Tigers in four games, from Verlander’s reaction to Sandoval’s homers to Romo’s fastball that ended up being the final pitch of 2012. That Giants team is remembered for the comebacks, but they should also be remembered for putting the hammer down when they had to, locking up a sweep. They made sure the Tigers never caught their breath, never got a chance to come back after the weather cleared and let Verlander try to make it 3-2.
“I’m just glad the whole world got to see what this team is about,” Ryan Vogelsong said after Game 4. “Starting with Game 5 of the NLCS, we played our best baseball of the season.”
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The Giants held a parade two days later, and because of that 4 a.m. phone call, I was there to cover it. I hung up and switched my flight, then ran to my room to pack and head to the airport. I was on a 6 a.m. flight to Chicago and from there it was smooth sailing. Just about every connecting flight got canceled later that day, and I know some of the other reporters had to drive hours to reach an airport that could get them back to San Francisco.
Everything could have looked so much different had the Tigers won Game 4, so as you rewatch those games today, remember the trait that Giants team showed on the final day of the season. They refused to give in for weeks, and when they had a chance to put the Tigers away and win a second title, they proved to be ruthless.
What covering Giants’ 2012 World Series sweep of Tigers was like originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area