Aubrey Huff is in his 11th major-league season and 33 years old. San Francisco's first baseman also is a playoff rookie.
Good thing he's got a couple of former World Series winners surrounding him in the Giants' clubhouse: Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand. It's still sinking in for Huff that he's about to play more meaningful games in October. San Francisco opens its best-of-five NL division series at home Thursday night against the wild-card Atlanta Braves.
Huff lived it up after the Giants beat the Padres on the season's final day to clinch their first playoff berth and NL West title since 2003.
"It was weird, when the champagne was done it never really kicked in," Huff said of what he'd just accomplished. "Once the hangover wears off and you have a day to reflect on it, you realize it's real and you cherish it."
Huff has provided a key boost for the Giants, who signed him to a $3 million, one-year contract in January. He had 26 home runs and 86 RBIs while playing 157 games — 100 of those at first base, 46 in left field and 34 in right.
While the majority of the Giants are in their first playoffs like Huff, they have played more than their share of close games to get here.
"We don't have a lot of playoff experience, but this team is battle-tested," Huff said. "All year long, almost every game came down to the eighth inning."
Moss mania — For much of the day, Game 1 of the ALDS between the Twins and Yankees took a backseat in the Twin Cities sports scene to the Vikings' trade with New England that brought star receiver Randy Moss back to Minnesota.
Gardenhire was asked if he had any reaction to the timing of the move.
"Well, I don't have Moss on my fantasy team, so I wasn't worried about him," Gardenhire cracked. "And I couldn't get (Brett) Favre, somebody took him before my team drafted.
"But coach (Brad) Childress, if he's happy, I'm happy for him because I do like him a lot. And I want to see the Vikings do well. But if I can get somebody to trade me Moss I would be really happy right now."
Have fun — Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan had some simple advice for Game 2 starter C.J. Wilson: have fun.
"When you have a front office guy or now a team owner that has the experience and knows what it's really like to be on the field, it gives a whole different level of credibility," Wilson said.
Ryan will be in attendance when Wilson makes his playoff debut Thursday against Tampa Bay. The Rangers beat Tampa Bay 5-1 in the series opener Wednesday.
"I haven't quite got his fastball," Wilson said. "It would be nice if he could sprinkle some magic dust on me and I could throw 100 miles an hour. He's been instrumental in the transition from the reliever to the starter."
Wilson went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA over 33 starts this season. The left-hander had been a closer before approaching Texas general manager Jon Daniels last year about switching roles.
"When I gave the hard sell to J.D., I was like, look, if I have a good year, we're going to the playoffs," Wilson said. "When things go according to plan, everything is good."
Zim wants another win — Zimmer, a 62-year baseball veteran, is involved with his 17th playoff team.
"My wife (Soot) figured it out the other day, not counting this year, I've had 40 celebrations in major league baseball," Zimmer said before Game 1 between the Rays and Texas Rangers. "It never gets old. I'm looking for three more this year."
Zimmer has six World Series rings — four as a coach with the New York Yankees and two during his playing career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers — and sees no reason why he can't added another one with the Rays.
"People ask me, 'You think you can win?'" Zimmer said. "I say 'We think we can win the World Series. The Giants think they can win the World Series. The Yankees think they can win the World Series. Texas thinks they can win the World Series.' Everybody says the same thing, we can win it. It would be pretty silly to say we can't win. We're here."
Relief effort — Phillies bullpen stalwarts J.C. Romero and Chad Durbin are turning to their wives for relief.
Crystal Durbin and Erin Romero have started a charity to raise funds and awareness for the National Audubon Society. The women saw firsthand the damage to the Louisiana coast caused by the oil spill and decided they were going to do something to help the affected communities.
Autographed bats will be available for auction at MAB Celebrity Services at www.mabcornerstore.com under National Audubon Society as well as on eBay under seller name NationalAudubonSociety. Bidding will begin Oct. 6 and will last throughout the baseball playoffs.