Monday, November 1, 2010

Giants One Away, and Remembering Maurice Lucas

The 1912 New York Giants. The 1924 Giants. The 1925 Washington Senators. The 1926 New York Yankees. The 1931 Philadelphia Athletics. The 1934 Detroit Tigers. The 1940 Tigers. The 1946 Boston Red Sox. The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers. The 1952 Dodgers. The 1955 Yankees. The 1956 Dodgers. The 1957 Yankees. The 1958 Milwaukee Braves. The 1960 Yankees. The 1962 Giants, now in San Francisco. The 1964 Yankees. The 1965 Minnesota Twins. The 1967 Red Sox. The 1968 St. Louis Cardinals. The 1971 Baltimore Orioles. The 1972 Cincinnati Reds. The 1973 New York Mets. The 1975 Red Sox. The 1979 Orioles. The 1982 Milwaukee Brewers. The 1985 Cardinals. The 1986 Red Sox. The 1987 Cardinals. The 1991 Braves, now in Atlanta. The 1997 Cleveland Indians. The 2001 Yankees. The 2002 Giants.

These teams have something in common: All of them came within one win of winning the World Series -- and lost anyway.

The '25 Senators, '58 Braves, '68 Cards, '79 O's and '85 Cards had a 3-games-to-1 lead... and lost.

The current Giants now find themselves in that position: Up 3 games to 1, needing only 1 more -- and, should they fail to do it tonight in Game 5, they will have Game 6 and possibly Game 7 at home.

And it's not like the Giants haven't won the World Series: They won it in 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933 and 1954. Just not since they moved to San Francisco in 1958.

They also lost the Series in New York in 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1923, 1924, 1936, 1937 and 1951. And in San Francisco in 1962, 1989 and 2002. The last of those being the most agonizing: Blowing a 5-0 lead over the Anaheim Angels in the bottom of the 7th, 8 outs to go, in Game 6, losing 6-5, then leading Game 7 1-0 early before losing 4-1.

San Francisco fans have been burned many times, watching inferior Los Angeles, Cincinnati and other teams win Divisions, Pennants and World Series that should have been theirs.

Gibbs Rule Number 8: Never take anything for granted. The Giants need to close it out tonight, in Texas.

*

Maurice Lucas died. He was the power forward who, with Bill Walton, led the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA Championship. Unfortunately, like a lot of those Blazers, he battled injury thereafter and never won another title. (The injury-plagued Walton did manage to win another, as the backup to Robert Parish on the 1986 Boston Celtics.)

Mo Lucas was a Pittsburgh native who led Milwaukee's Marquette University to the 1974 National Championship Game -- interestingly, Walton's UCLA team fell in the semifinals to the same team that beat Marquette, North Carolina State -- before moving on to the ABA and then the NBA. He should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame, as he -- along with predecessors Bob Pettit, Elvin Hayes and Dave DeBusschere -- was a prototype for the power forwards exemplified by Karl Malone, Dennis Rodman and Tim Duncan.

Lucas was universally respected in the game, to the point where Walton named his son after him. (Luke Walton has now won 2 NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.) He'd been an assistant coach on and off following his retirement, including with the Blazers, who retired his Number 20 in 1988. He had been away from the team and battling cancer. He was 58.

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