By Claire Reclosado-Baclay
Tuesday morning, San Francisco Giants infielder Marco Scutaro woke up and reminded himself that he will be playing in the World Series. He had to tell himself that this whole experience is not a dream.
But to play in the World Series, that is what many baseball players’ dreams consist of, and for Scutaro what may have been a dream for decades is now reality.
How fitting for the MLB veteran of 11 season to finally reach the World Series and be a pivotal part of his team’s success through the postseason. This dream has finally been brought to fruition with the title of 2012 National League Championship MVP given to him along the way to the biggest seven-game series of his life.
“Just to be part of this team and just being in the playoff and having the opportunity to live this experience for me is unbelievable,” Scutaro said on Monday night as he sat with the MVP trophy at his side. “Now I’m going to be in the World Series and also this little gift right here makes it special.”
He was given a gift? It was his performance in the intense NLCS that was a gift to the team and to the Giants fans.
In the NLCS, Scutaro hit .500 (14-for-28) with 3 doubles, 4 RBI, and 6 runs scored—that “gift” was rightfully earned by the second baseman. His 14 hits are a new LCS record and also a new Giants record for hits in a single postseason series. He became the first player in MLB history to have six multi-hit games in a single LCS.
That reality mirrors the dream many imagine.
But it wasn’t always so magical.
The 36-year-old Venezuela native got his first taste of the big leagues in 2002 with the New York Mets, the team that acquired him off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. In October 2003, the team across the Bay Bridge, the Oakland A’s, claimed Scutaro off waivers from the Mets.
In was then that the Bay Area became familiar with the brilliance of Scutaro. Even back then, the sing-song chant of “Mar-co!” would be returned with a reply of “Scu-ta-ro!” with equal emphasis. It wasn’t uncommon to hear that call echoing around the Oakland Coliseum.
In 2008, Scutaro played for Toronto after being traded by the A’s in 2007. There, he remained for a couple years before going to Boston and then to Colorado.
Before this season’s trade deadline, Scutaro came back to the Bay Area and became a San Francisco Giant. Instead of hearing the “Mar-co! Scu-ta-ro” chants ping-ponging around Oakland, it is now heard in the confines of AT&T Park.
Though he was always consistent, he flew under the radar, never garnering a huge amount of attention. That changed once the national spotlight was shining on the Giants.
There was no way to ignore the barrage of hits coming off of Scutaro’s bat—especially when the more talked about offensive players were not producing the way most expected. When it wasn’t his performance at the plate impressing those who watching him, it was the sparkling defense that he consistently brought to the team.
But it was one late slide in the NLCS that shifted so much attention Scutaro’s direction.
When the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder, Matt Holliday, slid into Scutaro in Game 2, the second baseman’s resiliency was brought into focus. The hard slide occurred in the top of the first, but didn’t exit the game until before the sixth inning. The injury was bad enough to warrant an early exit from the ballpark to determine the specifics, which turned out to be a left hip strain and contusion.
Despite the pain and soreness, he went on to play superb ball for the rest of the series—and has the MVP trophy and a trip to the World Series to show for it.
“I’ve seen guys, they’ve been playing 15-20 years in the big leagues, they’ve never had the opportunity to play in the World Series,” Scutaro said. “Being here, I just feel very lucky right now.”
The thing is, it took more than luck. To get to where Scutaro stands now, it also took hard work, tenacity, and gumption to stay striving for that dream. Yes, it’s a team sport, but a lackadaisical effort would not have propelled him to a team that was willing to fight for him and, in turn, ignite his own desire to fight for his teammates to keep their postseason from ending.
Everyone has a dream. Some dream big, some dream small. Some dream to be in the World Series.
On Monday, we saw Scutaro’s dream become his reality. As his stood in the pouring rain during the ninth inning of Game 7 of the NLCS, his arms outstretched, head back, face absorbing the rain as if each raindrop was a piece of that dream coming true, we saw what pure joy looked like.
“I was just enjoying this moment, man,” a champagne-soaked Scutaro said. “When things are going good, you gotta enjoy it, right?”
Yes, enjoy it, Mr. Scutaro. You earned it.
Claire Reclosado-Baclay is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco Giants. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.