DETROIT — The chant started loud and got louder, grown men hopping up and down in a pack, chanting a single syllable, over and over.
HOO! HOO! HOO!
It was 20 days ago that the San Francisco Giants first faced extinction, 20 days ago that Hunter Pence spoke up for the first time. His inspirational speeches turned into dugout pep rallies, with the players gathering before the game and chanting themselves into a frenzy.
HOO! HOO! HOO!
The Giants chanted one last time this season, this time with a prop. The players held aloft the World Series championship trophy, passing it among themselves in a cramped visiting clubhouse drenched in alcohol and emotion.
For the second time in three years, the Giants are champions. After surviving six elimination games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Giants swept the favored Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
Marco Scutaro delivered the clincher, a two-out single in the 10th inning to lift the Giants to a 4-3 victory. Since Willie Mays led the New York Giants to a sweep of the 1954 World Series, only four National League clubs have swept: the Dodgers of 1963, the Cincinnati Reds of 1976 and 1990, and the Giants of 2012.
Hoo about that?
"All the momentum we had from the first two series led us to sweep the World Series," pitcher Barry Zito said. "We were just on edge the whole time."
Pablo Sandoval, who tied a World Series record with three home runs in Game 1, was selected as most valuable player. Marco Scutaro, the MVP of the NL Championship Series, drove in the winning run. Buster Posey, the probable NL MVP, hit a two-run home run.
And yet, when the chants evolved from that one repetitive syllable to the names of various players, the first one was this: BAR-RY! BAR-RY!
Zito, heretofore identified as the $126-million man who failed to make the playoff roster two years ago, etched his place in franchise lore by beating the heralded Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the World Series — and by saving the Giants' season in Game 5 of the NLCS.
"The most special day of my pitching career," said Zito, who won the Cy Young award 10 years ago.
As Zito was giving an interview outside the clubhouse, his teammates chanted his name within.
"I didn't think I was hearing it right," he said. "It was like a dream."
The dreams will not be pleasant for the Tigers, who had a five-day layoff after sweeping the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
The powerful Tigers were shut out twice in four games and batted .159 for the World Series, with cleanup batter Prince Fielder getting one hit — a single — in 14 at-bats.
"I'm a little bit flabbergasted, to be honest with you," Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. "I never would have thought that we would have swept the New York Yankees, and I never would have thought that the Giants would have swept us.
"It's a freaky game."
The Giants had "The Freak" in Tim Lincecum, who transformed from a suddenly mediocre starter to an even more suddenly spectacular reliever. They had Ryan Vogelsong, who endured a decade in the minor leagues and abroad to emerge as a 35-year-old October sensation.
Most of all, however, they had Posey. In 2010, he was the rookie of the year. He appears to be the MVP in waiting.
Those are his only two full seasons in the major leagues.
"Let's just hope it's a career thing," Giants pitcher Matt Cain said. "If he plays every year, let's hope he gets to carry the championship [trophy] around every time."