Over 3 decades later, after another fallow period in franchise history, a young first round draft pick named Will Clark arrived on the scene. Not only did he have one of the sweetest swings in the history of the game, but he also had a certain aura about him that told the team and fans that things were not going to be the same any more. Losing was not an option. Anything that distracted from winning was unacceptable. One time during his rookie season, someone spray painted his cowboy boots bright orange. Now, that's pretty standard hijinks for a MLB clubhouse and fairly standard treatment of rookie players. Well, Will Clark was having none of it. I don't recall the exact details, but he threw a fuss that let people know, you don't mess around with Will Nuschler! Of course, taking Nolan Ryan deep in his first MLB AB pretty much backed that up with very loud statement on the field too. Will Clark came to define an era in Giants history much like Willie Mays defined his era before him.
Buster Posey was also drafted high in the first round after a down cycle in the Giants history, post Barry Bonds. He had been the winner of the Golden Spikes Award as the best college player the year he was drafted. I'm not sure how he dropped to the Giants at the #5 overall pick, but when he did, they pounced and grabbed him, paying the largest bonus they have ever given a drafted player. Giants fans knew about Buster from the get-go and were impatient to see him play in the big leagues. When he finally arrived in early 2010, they traded their starting catcher, Bengie Molina to make room for him. All he did was lead them to the first World Series Championship since the team moved to San Francisco. There was a feeling that his presence made a much bigger difference than his statistical contribution that was excellent in itself. Even non-Giants fans took notice of this kid who looked too good to be true. I remember remarking to several family members and friends about how this kid "pretty much has it all going on." He had looks, money, talent, heck, he had it all and was humble an unassuming to boot. He may have been unassuming, but there was an unmistakable aura of greatness that surrounded him.
When he was injured in that terrible collision early in 2011, it wasn't just Buster's season ending. It was the Giants season ending. There was the terrible possibility in the air that it wasn't just one season ending, but possibly a whole Giants era ending before it began. I remember my own reaction to the injury and it was exactly the same as many other Giants fans I talked to. There was a family of Giants fans sitting in front of my family at my daughter's college graduation. We introduced ourselves and the lady said, "I'm in mourning over Buster Posey!" it was as if a family member had died or a national tragedy had occurred. There was shock and anger, of course, but mostly just mourning.
Many fans pointed the the Giants failure to make the postseason in 2011 as proof that 2010 was a fluke and the Sabean and Bochy were still idiots. Buster Posey's return and performance this year proves that what really happened in 2011 was, well, Buster go hurt! The difference between the 2010 Giants and the 2011 Giants was Buster Posey. The difference between the 2011 Giants and the 2012 Giants is Buster Posey! Buster rightfully won this year's Willie Mac Award given to the player the Giants fans, players, coaches and Willie Mac himself vote as the most inspirational player on the team.
After the final game of the season on Wednesday, something else happened that I find remarkable. Maybe I just haven't ever read the right sources, but I don't remember this ever happening before. Buster's teammates gathered around him in the clubhouse and presented him with a personal gift they had all chipped in to buy. It was so personal that they would not tell reporters what it was, except that it was something very nice and special. Man, that is RESPECT from your teammates spelled out in capitals! On a team that has players like Tim Lincecum who has won 2 Cy Young awards, Matt Cain who has pitched a perfect game and has 21 innings of postseason shutout ball under his belt, that his teammates would honor Buster in a personal way like that tells you all you need to know about how much he means to this team.
It also tells you something about who deserves to win the MVP this year.
We have been blessed as Giants fans to have some special players wear the uniform. There are several special players on this team alone! In Buster Posey, we are witnessing one of the most special players I have ever seen or heard of. What a privilege!