The team of my youth, the San Francisco Giants, has just won its third World Series in five years. It is an amazing accomplishment, though it is still difficult for me to fully comprehend.
I do not belong to the modern generation of San Francisco Giants fan who, having lived through the franchise’s successful run beginning some time in the 90s, fully expect the team to make a grand show of it every year. The youthful expectation is full of so much optimism, even if it might be accompanied by a torrent of curse words and Twitter condemnations throughout the duration of a season. Sometimes, they unforgiveably throw in the towel. For them, this magnificent generation of the San Francisco Giants has been the premiere baseball franchise, and one that has provided parades, goofy commercials and a lineup filled with eccentric, loveable characters with personalities so thankfully far and away from the self-importance of the Richard Shermans and LeBron James of our sports universe.
My generation of San Francisco Giants fan has lived through another era. This one is a bit more cynical, rolled in memories of 12-game losing streaks, hotdog wrapper tornadoes and the annual September rant explosion by Jim Barr. Our managers had not one iota of the brilliance that seems to surround Bruce Bochy. We lived through the sad sack faces of the Wes Westrums and Jimmy Davenports who seemed to forever walk in loops towards the pitching mound to pull the John D’Acquistos who, having walked home two runs after loading the bases on walks, mercifully gets removed from a game.
Our summers were filled with E6s once Chris Speier had gone from our midst, and we were overjoyed by simple things: Willie Montanez would hotdog around and snap the ball at first base. Big Dave Kingman would sometimes platoon at third, where his throws to first would end up in the stands – quite the feat when you consider the amount of distance separating first base from the front row seats at Candlestick Park.
We loved them all, these San Francisco Giants. Even in the midst of season to season disaster, we loved our Jim Barrs, Ed Halickis, John Montefuscos, Dave Radars, Chris Arnolds, Frank Duffys, Darrell Evans, Roger Metzgers and Ken Hendersons. We loved anyone who played for the San Francisco Giants, except for the ones who insulted the team once they left for greener grass. This was our team, for better or worse, and it was usually mediocre to blopper hell horrible.
For us, we would love this team through anything. If the San Francisco Giants never won a World Series in our lifetime, we would still talk about our great history because we have treasured memories of what I still consider America’s greatest sport.
Our San Francisco Giants, however, have just accomplished a rare sports feat that has humbled me. Every frozen night spent in the Candlestick bleachers during a twilight doubleheader, that Jerry Reuss no-hitter I sat through in shock and despair, those cold and inelegant little prison food hamburgers and frozen malteds I ate, and those miles of walking it took to reach the only women’s stall in the bleacher section for a chance to sit on a frozen toilet seat seems so worthwhile, now that I have seen this team come full circle. They went from perennial third and fourth place finishes to the top of the baseball world.
These San Francisco Giants really had me from the moment I watched my first baseball game. They enveloped me from the moment I saw Willie McCovey and continued to have my unending loyalty. These things are natural and typical to any baseball fan.
It was that moment when Tim Lincecum’s name entered my universe that things seemed to change everything. Not long after, I bought a Panda hat. It was cool to find out that Matt Cain’s birthday was a day before my own. We memorized Scott Cousin’s name for Buster Posey’s sake. I would salute my husband when Angel Pagan saluted the team while standing on second base. Best of all, there have been a million and a half reasons to adore Hunter Pence.
This ride has been unbelievable.
These San Francisco Giants have redefined baseball for me. This is Jim Barr’s dream team, where the concept of a team playing cohesive, unselfish and fundamental small ball as synchronized swimmers manages to trump all.
However, I do not expect the team to do this every year. Or every other year. Or every even year. I was so happy with the first World Series ring that I, like all my friends who have been a long suffering San Francisco Giants fan, simply broke down and cried. I was at Pete’s Tavern across the street from AT&T Park when the team won their second World Series title, jumping up and down and mashing hugs with strangers. Two days ago, I cried once again.
It has always been the San Francisco Giants that have made me miss my hometown the most. It is through them that I have such civic pride, even though I am now a resident in slow suburban death down here in Southern California. This is Dodger territory, where the San Francisco Giants trophy tour is banned. There is something sweet about celebrating my team’s win and wearing my devotion as I pass by someone in a Dodger hat.
To be honest, though, the Dodger fans here are very kind. People in Los Angeles are pretty kind, once they are away from their cars and are not actively trying to prevent you from merging into their lane. They shapeshift into in-yo-face rivalry fueled angry Dodger fan for a few seconds, and then revert back to normal humans. One devoted Dodger fan co-worker even apologized to me for her Dodger lunch pail.
There was that one Dodger fan that decided to scream into my ear every five seconds during a Marlins/Dodger game at Chavez Ravine after finding out that I was a Giants fan. For her, these three championships by the rival Giants must feel horrible. No amount of causing my ears to ring is going to erase that sort of feeling, especially when it rolls around every other year. It is like losing the class presidency over and over to the prettier, popular girl who you imagine has the biggest zit in the world hiding beneath her shirt.
I know that sinking feeling. I lived through the Dodgers own run of success. It has been magnified and glorified through the many generations of television sets of my lifetime. So many, many other San Francisco Giants fans know the feeling.
It is not worthwhile for me to rub salt on their wounds. We all love baseball. Instead, let us have our chance beneath the basking sun, where can have our cake and parade!