Thursday, December 2, 2010

Orange and Black, Got the City on my Hat

I've been a Giants fan for as long as I can remember.  I can even (vaguely) recall Candlestick days, braving the cold and wind with my dad and brother, wrapped in blankets and joyfully eating and spitting seeds.  Baseball was the only sport my dad really followed and enjoyed so it was the only sport we watched (on tv or in person) on a regular basis.  I liked going to games, I rooted for the hometown team, but I probably could not have named the players on the team or told you how they were doing that season.  I was a kid.

High school is where I found my full-fledged love for the San Francisco Giants.  They moved from not-the-safest-or-easiest-part-of-town-Candlestick to the new-on-the-water-easier-to-get-to PacBell Park when I was in high school.  Since my friends and I could easily hop on the N-Judah to get there, we would.  I went to more games my junior and senior year of high school than I probably have since then.  It was what we did.  At that point in my life I could have named all of the players for you - Rich Auriela, JT Snow, Barry Bonds, Woody, Jason Schmidt.  These were my boys in orange and black that I rooted for, game-to-game, victory and loss.  I listened to games while I did my homework, went to games with my friends on the weekends, and organized group outings with friends and family.  I watched Barry chase the single season home run record and then the all-time home run record.  I had enough Giants gear to wear a different shirt every day of the week.  When I moved to LA for college I subscribed to MLB radio and religiously followed the end of the 2002 season.  I jumped up and down and screamed in my room when the Giants won the pennant and I proudly wore my Giants gear on campus and around LA, even in the midst of ridicule and taunting from bandwagon-Angel's fans.  Every year I was in LA I went to the Giants-Dodgers game proudly wearing my Giants jersey.  The people at my church in LA (Dodger's fans) even called me "Giants fan" as a nickname.  I'm that kind of fan.  But being a Giants fan brings you high and then has it's (seemingly) inevitable lows.  It was heartbreaking to watch the Giants lose their 3-2 lead and go on to lose the 2002 World Series.  It was humiliating when the scandal broke about Barry juicing.  My love for them was never the same after that season.  It was there, but it had faded.  It was frustrating to see them come so close and then with a few foolish mistakes (pride, anyone?) lose it all.

So I've followed them here and there ever since.  The season after the World Series I flew up to SF for opening day and I continued to attend games during summer breaks and organize group outings.  But it was never the same.  I'll blame it on the distance or the hecticness of life, but as the team and leadership changed from season to season I just couldn't connect.  This past season in particular I was out of the loop of many aspects of life because of wedding planning.  But when wedding madness died down and there were no more registries to stalk and seating charts to be updated, I found myself reading articles about this new brand of San Francisco Giant.  I'd heard good things about Bochy over the past couple of years - how he chose to build an everyman team over a team built around a superstar or two - so when people started talking about how this team in particular was coming together as a "hit and run, make a play" and not a "swing for the fences and be a hero" kind of team, it struck a chord in me and sparked my interest.  So I asked my brother (a die-hard baseball fan) what was up.  I asked him why, after all these years of mire, muck, and disappointment, this team deserved my loyalty, interest, and cheers.  And he told me that for these boys it wasn't about chasing records and being big names, it was about playing the game: being scrappy, getting on base, and getting it done.  So I watched.  As the end of the season neared, I kept my mouth shut for a number of reasons.  One, I knew I hadn't followed this particular team well enough to know their names or their stats.  Two, I didn't want to be a bandwagoner.  Three, I didn't want to be disappointed again.  I mean, in true Giants fashion, they clinched the NL West on the last game of the season. 

By the post-season my interest had been more than piqued - it was burning like a wildfire.  I read articles, learned the players names and numbers, and followed the scores of every game.  In true Giants fashion, they were the underdog in every game they went in to.  People said if they made it past the Braves they would inevitably get crushed by the Phillies.  But that didn't happen.  When the Rangers beat NY people said that the NL team that had to come up against this team would inevitably lose it.  But the Giants defied them all and took it all.  Took it all with games left to play, which was probably the most shocking part of it all.  Nobody saw it coming.  If you had told me at the beginning of the 2010 season that the Giants would go on to be World Series Champs that season I probably would have laughed and said "yeah, right"... all the while, holding on to hope in my heart that it would be a "maybe someday" for them.  I'm glad that my lack of faith didn't hold them back and that their "maybe someday" and the "maybe somedays" of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Giants fans out there has been realized.

I'll admit it, I cried when the Giants won the World Series.  I was home alone and I screamed, jumped, yelled, danced, and then as they replayed the highlights, collapsed on the couch and cried a happy cry.  The San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions, by a team who showed through every play, sac bunt, and hustle that they deserved it more than the other guy, and that can't ever be taken from them.


Next up: treats baked while the Giants were on their road to World Series Victory.