CBSNews.com producer Alex Sundby took emergency leave from work in New York to make it to Game 1 of the World Series in San Francisco.SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants did their best to appease the baseball gods when they set off Wednesday night on a quest for their first World Series title since 1954 by tapping a member of that title-winning team to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Hall of Fame member Monte Irvin rose from a wheelchair to lob one toward home plate on a beautiful October evening at AT&T Park here before Game 1 against the Texas Rangers in the 106th World Series. The honor was supposed to go to Irvin's fellow '54 teammate Willie Mays, but the Giants announced the "Say Hey Kid" was "under the weather" and couldn't make it to the ballpark with a street address that bears his name.
Even without Mays there to wish them well, the Giants still chalked one up in the victory column. The much-anticipated matchup of Giants hurler Tim Lincecum and Rangers ace Cliff Lee turned out to be a 11-7 slugfest.
As a lifelong Giants fan -- I'm writing this post in front of a bobblehead of Lincecum holding his two Cy Young Awards -- it was exhilarating to see my team take an early lead in the series. Still, even as infielder Juan Uribe rounded the bases after blasting a three-run shot to bring the Giants' score to 8 and secure what turned out to be the winning run, I worried whether I was witnessing history repeat itself.
I was fortunate enough to have attended the Giants' last World Series win, Game 5 of the 2002 series against what were then called the Anaheim Angels in what was then called Pacific Bell Park. An offensive burst gave the Giants a 16-4 victory and a 3-2 lead in the series, and San Francisco fans, myself included, left the ballpark feeling secure that a championship was one game away.
Not so much. The series returned to Anaheim, and the Angels won Games 6 and 7 for the title.
While the 2010 Giants and the 2002 Giants are completely different teams, it's easy to forget that titles are won one game at a time. Batting the cycle and scoring six runs in the 5th inning after chasing the accomplished Lee in the 4th should make a team feel confident. The real question is how they'll react when they come down from that high.
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday here. But when the series returns to Texas this weekend, Vladimir Guerrero returns to his usual position as the Rangers' designated hitter, and their defense will improve in American League territory. As Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper put it after Game 1, Guerrero's performance in right field was "a disaster," accounting for two of Texas' four errors by bobbling two Giants hits. Without having to worry about his fielding, Guerrero will focus on expanding on his 1-for-4 showing at the plate in Game 1.
Still, a Game 1 win for San Francisco laid the path to victory for the Giants throughout the postseason. Early wins against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series and later against Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the league championship series eventually brought the Giants to the World Series. Perhaps Wednesday night's win will lead to the 2010 Giants joining Irvin and Mays as champions.
Then again, a Game 1 victory doesn't guarantee anything. Just ask the 2002 Giants. They won Game 1 in Anaheim.