The San Francisco Giants finished
off an improbable postseason run Sunday night by beating the Detroit
Tigers in extra innings to sweep the World Series. The 4-3 victory in 10
innings at Detroit's Comerica Park marked the Giants second title in
the past three years.
The Giants faced elimination six times
during the playoffs. They were down two games to none in the National
League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds but won the next
three contests to advance. In the National League Championship Series
against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants were down three games to one
but managed to again win three straight to claim the best-of-seven
In the World Series, the flair for the dramatic was
unnecessary. After a convincing 8-3 win in Game 1, San Francisco won
both games two and three by scores of 2-0. On Sunday night, the Giants
waited until extra innings to pull off the clinching win.
piece to the pitching success of the Giants during the postseason was
former Northwestern pitcher George Kontos. Coming out of the bullpen for
San Francisco, Kontos saw action in eight postseason games, including
one appearance in the World Series.
Kontos was used most often in
the NLDS against the Reds. He pitched 3.2 scoreless innings throughout
four games, giving up just two hits. He appeared in three games against
the Cardinals in the NLCS. During the World Series, he appeared during
the Giants' 8-3 Game 1 win.
Kontos was drafted by the New York
Yankees in the fifth-round of the 2006 MLB draft after his third season
at Northwestern. After a successful minor league stint, Kontos was
called up to the big club in 2011; he pitched in seven games for the
Yankees that year.
Shortly before the start of the 2012 season,
Kontos was traded to the Giants. He began the season with the Giants'
Class AAA team, the Fresno Grizzlies, and in June, was called up to the
big leagues for the rest of the season.
Kontos earned his first
career win in a relief of Barry Zito on Aug. 29 against the Houston
Astros. Kontos finished the 2012 regular season with a 2-1 record and a
Kontos' younger brother, Chris, also played baseball for head coach Paul Stevens at Northwestern. He graduated last spring.
last Northwestern alum to appear in the World Series was J.A. Happ. He
was drafted by the Phillies in 2004 and was on both of their World
Series rosters in 2008 and 2009. The Phillies won the series in 2008
against the Tampa Bay Rays, but fell to the Yankees the following year.
the most recognizable face in professional baseball to come from
Northwestern is New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. As a player,
Girardi made his major league debut in 1989 with the Chicago Cubs and,
until his retirement in 2003, played for the Cubs, Colorado Rockies,
Yankees, and Cardinals.
In 2006, Girardi won the National League
Manager of the Year award while at the helm of the Florida Marlins. In
2008, Girardi was offered the Yankees' managerial job and accepted. He
won the World Series title with the team in 2009.
By Carsten Parmenter
The 'Cats accepted the opening kickoff and, on their first play, ran an option left that ended with Venric Mark gaining four off a pitch from Kain Colter. Now Colter dropped and rolled right and missed Rashad Lawrence on a short out and then, on third down, he dropped again, avoided an Iowa blitz and scrambled for 18. "I thought he made some really good decisions today," Pat Fitzgerald would say after his team's 11-point win over the Hawkeyes. "There were some things that were either pushed up into his face or covered. Instead of forcing the ball today, I thought he made some really good decisions and saw some green grass and was able to take advantage of it."
Three plays later, on another third down, he did that again and picked up 20, and here the 'Cats went to work pounding at the Hawkeye 31. First Colter gained a yard and then, on a burst up the middle, Mike Trumpy gained 17. Now Mark gained six over the left side and three up the middle and finally, on third-and-one from the five, Colter stuck the ball in Mark's belly, made his zone read, withdrew it and skittered left into the end zone. "When you're able to read somebody, it allows an extra blocker," Colter would say of that final play, which the 'Cats effectively used throughout this homecoming Saturday. "We don't have to block that guy. Technically the quarterback is going to block him with his decision. That helps us out a lot."
It has been an arduous month for 'Cat quarterback Trevor Siemian. He threw for 135 yards in their loss at Penn State; completed only one pass for four yards in their victory at Minnesota; and, last Saturday at home against Nebraska, connected on 42.8 percent of his 35 attempts for 116 yards. But Wednesday, after practice, he stood outside his team's locker room and said this when asked if his considerable confidence has been shaken. "No. No. I wouldn't say that. You can't (let that happen)," he said. "Obviously I haven't been lighting it up the last couple weeks. But I'm still confident. I know what I can do, I know what our receivers can do and I'm comfortable in the system. I think that gives us a chance to be pretty successful moving forward."
So why the lack of success in October?
"It comes down to me, Kain (Colter) and the receivers being able to win our one-on-ones," he said simply. "Win our one-on-ones. That's the biggest thing. People are going to put pressure on us. They're going to try to put their best guys on our best guys, and we've got to win. That's all."
* It was the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald who noted, "The rich are different from us." It was the 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald (they're not related) who noted, "Football players and athletes are a lot different from fans."
This was at his weekly Monday press conference, and here the subject was just how does a team get over a loss as enervating as the one suffered by his 'Cats Saturday against Nebraska. "As a competitor, you move on, you move on quickly. You know you've got to get back to work," he now continued, explicating his observation. "We're back at it this morning. Our fans can't get back at it again until Saturday, so it lingers a little bit more with them. Then the awesomeness of the 24-hour news cycle fans the flames of negativity or positivity, if that's a word.
ALL ABOARD: Nebraska visits Ryan Field to challenge them on Saturday and looming in front of them too are mid-terms. Seven games are behind them now, but they are not yet finished with even half of their conference schedule. Just one blemish mars their work to this point, but they are still far removed from achieving those goals they have set for themselves. That is the reality confronting the 'Cats, who are now in the very belly of their schedule, and that is the reason -- all through this week -- Pat Fitzgerald has talked of the grind and emphasized the need to embrace it.
Here is one way they have managed that. They have jumped on the Fun Train, the creation -- as we noted Wednesday -- of the defensive tackle Will Hampton. "You've got to fool yourself sometimes," senior defensive end Quentin Williams said when we mentioned that train to him, and then he explained.
Checking in with. . .
REDSHIRT FRESHMAN CORNER NICK VANHOOSE, who three Saturdays ago had a tough afternoon even as the 'Cats defeated Indiana. Afterward, in conversation, he said that it was his worst game mentally of the season, that he would soon be talking to his position coach Jerry Brown about his performance and that he was relishing the opportunity to redeem himself. "Yeah, I definitely feel I've done that," he more recently said to the last point. We were talking here days after he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his work against Minnesota (which included breaking up three potential touchdown passes) and now he continued, "I've locked it in for the past two games a lot better with getting the coverages down. Mentally, I'm just going over things in my head a lot better."
* Truth be told, there was very little review of the 'Cats win over MInnesota at Pat Fitzgerald's regular Monday press conference. The focus, instead, was already on Tuesday's practice and the coming week of preparation and Nebraska's Saturday visit to Ryan Field. "Without a doubt," he declared, "tomorrow's practice is the biggest practice of the year. That's what I told the guys this morning. I believe you play like you prepare. We've put together some good practices. We have not put together a great week in all three phases since Indiana. So that's where my focus is right now. I think if we can do that, we'll be prepared for the opportunity on Saturday."
BEEN THERE. LET'S NOT DO THAT: The linebacker David Nwabuisi is not only a much-experienced senior. He is also a captain, a leader, a ballast of this year's 'Cats, who now find themselves heading to Minnesota off their first defeat of the season. A fall ago that first defeat sent them spinning into a five-game losing streak and so here, with his stature in mind, we asked Nwabuisi just what he was doing to make sure a similar fate did not befall this team. "It's important to realize, one, you can't go back and change the result of that game. All you can do is push on forward," he began.
With Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art serving as the site of Wednesday's Chicago Ideas Week "Making of a Champion" panel discussion, it was fitting to kick off the event with a poignant quote from Pablo Picasso.
Picasso's quote, part of an introductory video screened before the panel began, stated simply, "An idea is a point of departure and no more."
* Last year, in the wake of their first loss of the year (to Army in week three), the 'Cats were enveloped by a miasma and dropped four more in a row before emerging from their funk. Now, a fall later, they have just suffered their first loss of this season (on Saturday at Penn State) and here looming in front of them is a rigorous road test at 4-1 Minnesota. So, we wondered Monday, just how do they make sure they do not reprise the struggles that beset them a year ago.
"It's all about just refocusing," answered senior defensive tackle Brian Arnfelt, who is one of their captains. "It's on our (list of) values. Respond. How do we respond? I don't think we necessarily took the right attitude last year. But I don't think with this year's group that's going to be an issue at all. I think we have a group of character guys who are willing to answer, who are willing to put in the work during the week, the film study, the practice, the reps, the grind, in order to get the results on Saturday. So I don't think that will be an issue...