In an alternate world, the Giants would have been battling the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series with a trip to the World Series on the line.
Fans at Truist Park dressed head to toe in Braves gear would have done the cringe-worthy tomahawk chop all too much and boo'd loudly when Giants hitters walked to the batter's box. But when Buster Posey was called to bat, Braves fans would have found themselves in quite the pickle.
The star catcher and Giants franchise centerpiece is a Georgia legend. Posey was born in Leesburg, Ga., and started his story at Lee County High School. He was named the Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year after his senior baseball season, and grew up a Braves fan.
Yes, alternate realities are all the rage right now (yikes!), but Posey and the rest of the Giants will be watching the Braves from their homes as Atlanta represents the NL against the AL's Houston Astros in the World Series. However, even without Posey still playing, the Braves still have catcher connections with the Giants in the Fall Classic.
William Contreras and Travis d'Arnaud are the Braves' two catchers on the current roster. For 26 games this season, though, former Giants catcher Stephen Vogt played in a Braves jersey. He underwent sports hernia surgery two weeks ago isn't available for the playoffs.
And then there's Chadwick Tromp.
The Braves selected Tromp off waivers from the Giants on Sept. 21. He played five games for their Triple-A affiliate. OK, now back to players who can actually earn World Series rings.
Will Smith's All-Star campaign as the Giants' closer in 2019 earned him a three-year, $39 million contract with the Braves right when free agency opened up. Smith has been dominant in the postseason. He has four saves and hasn't allowed an earned run in seven innings. When Smith left San Francisco, Drew Smyly arrived. The lefty had a 3.42 ERA in seven appearances for the Giants and now pitches for the Braves. He started Game 4 of the NLCS and gave up two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ehire Adrianza spent his first four seasons with the Giants. He hit .220 with only three homers. Since then, he has been a .252 hitter with 18 homers. This was his first season as a Brave and his .247 batting average and .728 OPS were each the second-highest of his career. Adrianza has one hit, a double, in eight at-bats during the playoffs.
Adam Duvall will always be on a long list of what-ifs for the Giants. San Francisco selected Duvall in the 11th-round of the 2010 draft and he made his MLB debut for the Giants in 2014, but his career with the team lasted just 28 games. Thought of as a defensive liability, Duval was traded along with Keury Mella to the Cincinnati Reds for Mike Leake at the 2015 trade deadline.
Duvall now plays all three outfield positions and hit a career-high 38 home runs this year between the Braves and the Miami Marlins. His 113 RBI led the NL. Duvall hit a solo shot in the Braves' Game 4 win against the Dodgers and had four RBI in the NLCS.
We've now reached Eddie Rosario levels of connections between the Giants and Braves. In hindsight, the Giants should have just listened to *cough, cough* me but in reality, Rosario signed with the Cleveland Indians over the offseason. Here's where it all comes together for the Giants. As the Braves rebuilt their roster at the trade deadline, they acquired Rosario for none other than Pablo Sandoval. Not to mention, Sandoval's four pinch-hit homers played a big role in the early part of Atlanta's season.
Now, Rosario has reached Pablo-level dominance at the plate in the playoffs. The lefty put global warming to shame with how red-hot he was when he scorched the Dodgers. After hitting .308 with one home run in the NLDS, Rosario was named NLCS MVP by batting .560 with three homers and a 1.647 OPS.
On the Houston side of things, Dusty Baker obviously creates headlines for Giants fans as San Francisco's former manager. But the Giants have a minor tie to the Astros outside of Dusty.
Astros outfielder Jose Siri spent the majority of last year in the Giants' farm system. But with the minor league season canceled to the COVID-19 pandemic, Siri never actually played a game for the organization.
Really, this all about Baker.
The Giants gave him his first job as a manager in 1993. He held the spot through the 2002 season, when he was last in the World Series.
Giants fans are sure to still have a sour taste in their mouth and nightmares of Baker handing the game ball to Russ Ortiz as he walked off the mound with a 5-0 lead in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. We all know what happened next, and it wasn't a parade in San Francisco.
Former players already have voiced their support in rooting for Baker, and it's why he still is so beloved from San Francisco and beyond. What makes players, fans and anyone who has ever been around Baker on or off a baseball field is so much more than his 840 wins as the Giants' manager. His résumé speaks for itself. It's his Hall of Fame heart that he'll always be known for most.
It's why those who usually root for the orange and black of the Giants might do the same for Dusty and the Astros.