SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants won the World Series in 2010, a red, rhinestone-encrusted cloth earned more credit than any undergarment in baseball history. Aubrey Huff's fashion choice became known as the Rally Thong.
These days the Giants are drawing strength from a less risqué, though no less mystical, baseball ritual. Hunter Pence leads a pregame huddle in which players sometimes press into each other -- a Belt into Scutaro into Crawford into Romo -- to form one giddy, adrenaline-fueled pile.
Let's call it the Rally Throng.
"What are they like?" infielder Ryan Theriot said. "Have you ever seen 'Friday Night Lights?' It's kind of like that."
Silly as it sounds, these football-style pep
The Giants reached this stage by becoming the first team to win six games in which a loss would have sent them home. The first of those was Game 3 in Cincinnati on Oct. 9, the night manager Bruce Bochy gave his troops a few words of wisdom in the clubhouse before the game.
That's when Pence cleared his throat.
"I just remember him saying, 'I have something to say,' " Affeldt said. "I didn't really think much of it."
"He just got loud. He got crazy. I thought he was going to start head-butting guys and all kind of stuff," Affeldt recalled. "I'm glad that he didn't."
Third base coach Tim Flannery posted the speech, which is already legendary, on his Facebook page. Among the highlights:
"Look into each other's eyes. I want one more day with you. It's the most fun, the best team I have ever been on, and no matter what happens, we must not give in. We owe it to each other. Play for each other!"
As Pence worked himself into a frenzy, others in the room sat in stunned silence. As reliever Javier Lopez recalled, "You don't know if you're supposed to sit back there with popcorn or start screaming and yelling."
Marco Scutaro started yelling.
Other players followed Scutaro's lead, and soon everyone was screaming. In essence, the Giants haven't piped down since.
They won three straight to snuff out the Reds, then overcame a three-games-to-one deficit to topple the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.
And each win has been fueled by another oratorical adrenaline shot.
"The best way to describe it: There seems to be some excitement 30 minutes before it's time to go out on the field," catcher Buster Posey said. "Everybody knows we're going to go out there, and we're doing it together, and I think that's been helpful in winning these six games, because it's been a collective effort."
"When Hunter gave that unbelievable speech before that game, it really inspired everybody," reliever George Kontos said. "We realized what we were to accomplish here. Nobody wanted to go home."
The message never varies, but the intensity does. The Giants were fairly restrained for three games in St. Louis. Upon returning to AT&T Park for Game 6, the Giants got so hyped up during their dugout huddle that it looked as if they were ready to take on the Green Bay Packers.
Players crushed into each other in one huge huddle. Then, just for the heck of it, Sergio Romo began firing sunflower seeds over the happy union, like rice at a wedding.
As it turns out, sunflower seeds were the least of it.
"I got hit in the head with some coffee creamer," Theriot said. "It's wild, yeah. Those things are out of control.
"You kind of have to watch yourself. I try to stay on the outskirts. I don't want to get smoked with one of those Gatorade bars. Those things are hard."
The Giants admit their new routine is a bit of a shock to the baseball culture. Pence's speeches have been compared to those of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and even Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne.
But never to a ballplayer.
"That's what makes it unique," Pence said. "There's not a lot of rah-rah in baseball. But it seems to make us feel good, so I don't know. I can't really explain it."
Pence, of all things, struggled for words on Tuesday. Surrounded by reporters at AT&T Park, he was clipped in some answers. There was neither fire nor brimstone. Summing up his speeches, he said, "It's like, 'Win or go home.' It's just adrenaline."
It's because he needed a stage, and a moment. Teammates say his impromptu style is what makes things work.
"That's in the moment," general manager Brian Sabean said. "Sometimes you don't know where it's coming from. But it's not an act. It's genuine.
"And this group does play with a lot of emotion."
Just look out for that coffee creamer.