This is No. 10 on Golden Gate Sports’ list of the Top 10 Bay Area Sports Stories of 2012. For a quick reminder, please read our Honorable Mentions.
August 15th will always be remembered as a momentum changing day for the Giants. Except, the momentum proved to swing their way.
The Giants were set to go for a series win against the Nationals after winning the night before. And the night before, they had their entire lineup healthy for the first time. Meaning, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Cabrera himself were all healthy. Finally, Giants’ fans saw somewhat of a powerful offense take shape.
Then, the infamous suspension occurred.
The news broke roughly two hours before the matinee start time, and trended as the day progressed. San Francisco still had a game to play, though. Obviously, the news turned out to be a shot in the arm at the time. Cabrera was indeed their best hitter, sporting a slash of .346/.390/.516. As expected, the remaining Giants looked dead in their defeat, but this news changed their season for the long haul.
In the wake of the suspension, many pundits instantly counted the Giants out of the playoff chase. This wouldn’t be such a bold prediction either. But the Giants did the opposite of what was expected of them. Instead of collapsing, they became stronger as a unit.
After losing to the Nationals on the 15th, they won seven of their next eight games. More importantly, they swept the Dodgers in Los Angeles to extend their lead in the National League West which resulted in a blowout.
The same “don’t count us out” motto propelled them through the next month-plus, which is why this shocking story was so significant at the time.
Fresh off five consecutive wins, the Giants had a chance to clinch the N.L West in front of their home crowd in late September. And they did just that, winning by a final tally of 8-4, running off their six straight win. From that point forward, it was about preparing for the playoffs where they proved to be very well prepared.
Cabrera’s suspension changed the tone of the Giants’ season. Without the event, the Giants could’ve been dead in September. Cabrera’s suspension, though, was a spark and provided them with a challenge to prove the baseball world wrong.
As the details became available, the situation become even more shocking and laughable. Most notably, Cabrera attempted to make a fake website to alter the league’s opinion. That attempt failed miserably and he basically shot his chances of returning to the team in the playoffs. He indeed didn’t return, despite being eligible to come back in the NLCS, as his suspension carried five games into the playoffs too. The Giants got their without him, and the presumably didn’t want to break up the mojo they had.
As negative of a story as Cabrera’s suspension was and still is, it was the talk of not just San Francisco, but the baseball world at the time. The Giants could’ve taken two paths: lay down defeat, or find another way to play October baseball. I think we all know by now which route they took, and how they celebrated about three months later.
Stay tuned to Golden Gate Sports for #9 on our list of the Top 10 Bay Area Sports Stories of 2012 that will be released on Tuesday, December 18