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Key Giants reflect on fastest playoff berth in franchise history

© John Hefti | 2021 Sep 13


As Steven Duggar shot dollar bills out of a “Supreme” toy gun, the bullpen slugged beers, and Kevin Gausman posed in a fake batter’s box, some of their teammates had to excuse themselves from the fun to a Giants-branded backdrop to take questions from the media. 

Evan Longoria, Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey each addressed the media while the party raged on in their clubhouse. Some were lighthearted in the moment, some grateful for the culture that’s been cultivated in the organization, some pensive about the season. 

Belt, the captain, opened up his Zoom session by saying he didn’t think his team had ever clinched faster than this. He’s right about that: No Giants team has ever earned a playoff berth this early in the season. 

Belt said while he was confident in the team preseason, it took about a month of strong play to realize this group wasn’t a fluke. The Giants didn’t play a single calendar month below .600. 

“Just to see us execute our plan, night in and night out, you knew we had something special,” Belt said. 

Both Belt and Longoria forgot how much champagne can burn when it gets in your eyes. Jake McGee joked to NBC Bay Area Sports that some of the younger players were having trouble figuring out how to fasten their ski goggles. Longoria and Belt, two veterans who have enjoyed plenty of playoff runs in their careers, shouldn’t have that issue. 

Perhaps they were just out of practice. Belt’s last champagne showers were in 2016, when the Giants beat the Mets in the Wild Card game. Longoria last made the postseason in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays. 

“It’s been a long time for me,” Longoria said. “So I’m very thrilled to be back in the postseason, feeling the burn of the champagne in my eyes and just experiencing another celebration. I mean, I hope that we have two or three or four more of these — obviously the ultimate goal is to put a ring on at the end of the season. But this is what we set out to accomplish at the beginning.”

Belt and Longoria both theorized that it’s easy to take the playoffs for granted with so much early-career success. Longoria said at one point he expected to make the playoffs every year, but he’s since learned that’s far from guaranteed.. 

“After the past five years or so, this is something that we won’t take for granted again,” Belt said. “We’re going to enjoy it right now, but we got more to do.” 

Three-time World Series champion Buster Posey said he likes to step back and take everything in during celebrations. He said he enjoys the celebration, but realizes the end goal is still out there. 

Posey’s first postseason was 2010. Eleven years later, he sees guys experiencing their first clubhouse party. 

One such postseason rookie is Mike Yastrzemsk. Yastrzemski plans to talk with veterans like Posey, Belt, Longoria and Brandon Crawford about what the playoffs are all about at some point. They were the ones who instilled confidence in the team during spring training, Yastrzemski said, making the NL West title a realistic goal when outsiders would’ve considered it a pipedream. 

“Learning from these guys has been incredible and it’s a lifelong experience, it’s not just on the baseball field,” Yastrzemski said. “That translates so much further down the road.” 

Yastrzemski thoughtfully said “thousands of moments” lead to an achievement like this, and that it’s appropriate to enjoy the fun now and worry about winning tomorrow. 

Yastrzemski also expressed gratification for the organizational culture built here. He called this the “most selfless group” he’s ever played with and said from the moment he was traded to San Francisco in 2019, he knew success would come. 

“Farhan (Zaidi) and Scott (Harris) have done an unbelievable job of putting together a group of great guys, great players, great people,” Yastrzemski said. “And I think the great people is the number one thing. We don’t have a bad egg in this locker room and we’re so lucky to have that. You have to take a step back and recognize how special this is because it’s hard to find a group of 40-50 guys that are players, plus 20-30 staff members that all mesh together. And putting that together, I can’t imagine how hard that is and how much people skills you have to have to notice that and to put that group together is. It’s just incredible.

I couldn’t have dreamed for this to happen any other way.”

 

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