Win Now!

The Giants make a controversial and risky trade befitting a team that is serious about winning it all right now.

These are not your dad's Giants. Nor are they Dusty's (thank God). This is a team that said, "Right now is more important than the day after the 99th World Series is over." So on Thursday they refused to play it safe by dealing two promising and young pitchers, Damian Moss and Kurt Ainsworth, for the pitcher most coveted by contending teams, Sidney Ponson.

For that, Giants fans, you should be proud.

Not only did the Giants absolutely have to get a deal done, they also had to do it with the bravado that their front office displayed just prior to the July 31st trading deadline. The guts Magowan and his lieutenants demonstrated will undoubtedly give the team a full head of steam, not to mention confidence. Getting the prize of the pitching sweepstakes also serves notice to the league that these Giants mean business. If you think I'm wrong, ask Jeff Nelson and the Mariners how they feel about yet another year of pre-deadline inactivity.

In 2000, the Giants would not have made such an audacious move. You may recall that they needed a lead off hitter for the stretch run that year, but when asked about the prospect of acquiring Johnny Damon, General Manager Brian Sabean proclaimed to KNBR and its listeners, "To get Damon, we'd have to give up a Shawn Estes." With Estes' Game 2 gaffes and his career in mind, you don't need to be Miss Cleo to predict how a trade like Damon-for-Estes would have worked out for the Giants. And after the disaster of 2000 and Game 6 of the 2002 World Series (heretofore known as "Black Saturday") owner Peter Magowan and Sabean have learned an invaluable lesson: Win now.

Notions such as conventionalism and looking ahead were broomed out of 24 Willie Mays Plaza along with Dusty Baker back in November. In their place is an approach that combines desperation, urgency and commitment. We are seeing a new Giants team and I'm not just talking about the one on the field. While the faces are the same in the ownership and front office, the approach is wholly different. (And finally!) The long-suffering fans are already stuffed with a steady diet of post-season collapses. As soon as Damian Moss started consulting sports psychologist, Dr. Harvey "The Dorf" Dorfman, the writing was on the wall: Head case. There was no need to even have the opportunity to continue the smorgasbord of heartbreak by adding Moss' name to the list of those who've made grown, Northern Californian men cry (Hammaker, Estes, Hernandez, et al).

Of course Magowan can't clear a space on his mantel for a trophy nor should SF Mayor Willie Brown get the barricades ready for the ticker tape parade down Market Street just yet. There are many injuries to overcome and victories to be had, not to mention whether or not Ponson will perform like the 14-game winner they acquired yesterday or the underachiever he's resembled in the five years prior. In short, he needs to be a pitcher like Russ Ortiz (but we don't need to rub salt on old wounds). But Giants fans should take assurance in the fact that the ownership is showing the baseball world that they are willing to take that chance. The opportunity for Magowan and Sabean to not concern themselves over upsides and salaries and, instead, go out get a warhorse for October had presented itself. And they seized it, ladies and gentleman.

Magowan may speak like Homer Simpson's neighbor, Ned Flanders, but the man is displaying a welcome ruthless streak. Sabean has finally let the ice water circulate in his veins by parting with young talent in exchange for instant gratification. In the cutthroat world of baseball, those are often the necessary evils of winning a championship and the owner and GM have seemingly embraced them. Perhaps their boldness will represent the first Ponson-sized step to putting a World Series trophy in the city by the bay.

No matter the outcome, the Giants made the right move and they didn't even flinch.



Keith Larson writes for SFDugout.com because he's lived and died with the Giants since 1972. He welcomes all words of praise and insult at keith49ers@yahoo.com, but mentioning anything having to do with Game 6 is to be done with extreme caution.

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