AT&T PARK — Barry Bonds played in the majors for 22 years and never won a World Series title.
A man defined by his own worth, Bonds earned 18 Golden Gloves, 14 All Star appearances, seven National League MVP awards and the all-time and single season home run crowns. Granted, all with a huge asterisk.
Bonds’ one World Series appearance with the Giants in 2002 ended with a loss in seven games to the Anaheim Angels.
It took Buster Posey just five months as a pro to take his first shot at the Commissioner’s trophy. Since he went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in his May 2010 debut, Posey has hoisted three National League pennants with three different sets of Giants teammates.
Some wait years to join the dance. Others cut in at just the right time.
The World Series-bound 2014 San Francisco Giants carry a mixed bag of experience. Six are holdovers from the championship 2012 team, with another eight playing in ‘10, ‘12 and now ‘14.
Then there are the new additions.
Michael Morse, who’s hopped between four different teams, won the first pennant in his 10-year career. Tim Hudson has played for 16 years with three teams, and will toe the World Series rubber for the first time in Game 3 at AT&T Park.
Hudson came to the Bay ready to contribute to a winning team:
“I signed out here to try to win and get to the World Series, and here we are … they have a track record of success in these situations and its been a lot of fun seeing these guys compete out on this stage.”
Hudson has paid his dues, and quite well.
Before joining the Giants, he never pitched a losing season. Hudson won 20 games with the A’s his second year out and kept a steady command, boasting a career 3.45 ERA.
He acted as a ground ball specialist for the Giants this year, forcing 53 percent of the batters faced into groundouts, according to Fangraphs.
The righty from Georgia found his place, and earned his right as one of Bochy’s beloved “rednecks.”
Right behind him on the mound is Joe Panik. A rookie straight out of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., and then Triple-A Fresno, Panik settled into the gap at second base in the midst of a deep June swoon.
Panik’s journey to his first World Series went a little differently. It started mid-season, when Giants Vice President Bobby Evans rang Panik around midnight after a game in New Orleans with the call.
Once in San Francisco, Panik emerged as baseball’s Joe Cool. Unfazed by big league pitchers, Panik found his place in the clubhouse quickly. He notched 82 hits and helped lift a Giants team suffering an offensive drought.
“I’ve been with a lot of these guys throughout the minor leagues … Susac has been a big part of this team … and Duff, all of these rookies. It’s good to have guys that you’ve been friends with for a while and share this with them.”
Hudson’s long trek proves it isn’t always like this, said Panik:
“It shows you can’t take this game for granted, or this moment for granted because (Hudson’s) been up for so long with a lot of great teams and he’s a heck of a pitcher, and it’s his first world series ever and, for me to be up here 3 or 4 months, you can’t take it for granted.”
It almost seems unfair. One player devotes 16 years, injuries and options, to the game and only now gets a shot at the title, while others can sneak in at just the right time.
Is Hudson jealous of the rookies?
“I’m not really. I’m just excited to be here and have this opportunity. I know those guys, they’re experiencing something that took me 16 years to get to. But good for them. Hopefully it won’t be their last.”