I just have to write. I’m a wreck. I’m enthralled. I’m weeping. I’m shaking.
The Giants won the World Series. Nothing can bring this down. Nothing. Everything else is secondary to this feeling. After all those years. All those years where it was disappointment after disappointment. 1962. 1987. 1989. 1993. 1997. 2000. 2002. 2003. The putrid period that was 2004–2008. Armando Benitez. Solomon Torres. Scott Spiezio. Pro Player Park. K-Rod. That damn Rally Monkey. Benny Agbayani. Bobby Jones. Felix Rodriguez melting down. The Florida Marlins. The New York Yankees. Willie McCovey coming up just a couple of feet short. The Atlanta Braves coming back. The St. Louis Cardinals. Steve Finley as a Dodger. Steve Finley as a Giant.
The Ghosts are gone. On All Saints day. It seems fitting. It seems right. And I couldn’t be more thankful to God, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Joseph Smith, Xerxes, the Spartans that beat Xerxes’ army in “300” and whatever Shintoists believe in. I’m just on a high. I’m on a high, a cloud, and the powers that be couldn’t have been more generous.
It’s strange to be at this feeling. People know how much of a Giants fan I am. People know what I went through when I started writing about the Giants on a regular basis starting last year, the summer before I entered the novitiate. Some people will thank my fandom is crazy, over-the-top, perhaps even stupid. But it isn’t. Being a fan is a marriage. A REAL fan too. Not somebody who just picks a team because they are hot or they are good. Being a real fan is like committing to someone. You know their faults, you know they are going to disappoint you more often than not, and you know that your loyalty will put you in situations you don’t want to be in when you have had too many Whiskey sours (cough…Tattle Tale room…cough). And yet, you have to do this. In order to experience this kind of payoff, this kind of feeling, emotion, you need to commit to a team in terms of a matrimonial relationship. Or else, there’s no point in being a fan, there’s no reason in following sports.
When the Giants started the season, I felt the marriage hitting a skid. I loved what they did last year. I loved Pablo Sandoval. I loved Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez and Brian Wilson (for better and worse). And yet, I just didn’t see this team make improvements. We signed a guy coming off his worst statistical year in his career. We signed two guys who were coming off major injuries. We had a catcher who was blocking our catcher of the future, and a run of the mill starter blocking our pitcher of the future behind Lincecum and Cain.
I wasn’t giving up, but I was pessimistic. Giants fans usually are. We know that whenever there is hope (e.g. 2004 when we signed a “closer” in Benitez), the Gods have had a custom of crushing us down. And it seemed to be that way to start the year. The Giants at one point in June were in fourth place in the National League. The pitching looked to be mortal. Pablo looked liked Randall Simon (e.g. not good) and it just looked like another disappointing year, much like 2004 or 1998, when we were coming off hopeful seasons the previous season.
And something changed. As soon as I started following the Giants less (not by chance mind you) the Giants started winning. I was working in a summer camp where I had no TV or Internet access and the Giants had their best month of July since 2000. I had been entrenched in my work here at Red Cloud when they came up hot in September. The Giants just kept doing it and doing it, right when I was less and less involved and thus, I started to believe “Crap! I’m jinxing them when I watch them! I better watch from afar!”
And I couldn’t keep away this postseason though. After watching the first couple of games on the gamecast, I started watching the games again. I had to. And they did it. Cody Ross became a stud. Edgar Renteria became a stud. Madison Bumgarner proved Spring Training doesn’t mean jack. And Rob Neyer became the most asinine baseball analyst in America after he continued to defend the Phillies and Rangers with each loss. (“The Giants are just getting lucky!”)
Baseball is a funny game. Following a sports team is a funny thing too. It’s amazing how you can find your life correlating with the sports team you follow. You feel pain when they experience pain. You feel anguish when they falter. And yet, you also share in the joys. I feel like the Giants are almost my family, the family that I’m so connected with, that they make or break me depending on how they do. You should have seen me in June. The Giants were miserable, and by some strange cosmic fate, I was also miserable in my own life. And yet, they picked me up. The Giants gave a pessimistic, “waiting for doom” person like me hope to believe in things, believe in life and believe in miracles and the underdog. They made me believe in things like luck, picking yourself up and proving people wrong. They made me believe that confidence isn’t a bad thing as long as you do it the right way. And they made me believe that life…is surprising, a rollercoaster, but worth the ride at the same time. I just keep thinking about the line from the Grandma in “Parenthood”:
“[The Rollercoaster] goes up and down, side to side, all over the place. I have never experienced something so terrifying in my life. All my brothers and sisters…they went on the merry-go-round. All that does is go up and down. Nothing exciting about that. I’ll take the rollercoaster.”
That’s not just Giants baseball. It’s life. Giants baseball has been my symbol, my hope for life. Because sure, you experience things like Game 6 in Anaheim. You experience Barry Zito getting $126 million dollars. You experience Agbayani hitting a game-winning homer and never doing anything in his career ever again. But then you have this…a World Series. A world series ring. And I was alive to see it.
Sure, I know what it means to SF. I know a lot of Giants fans have been living a lot longer than I have. But I’m going to be selfish here. It means something more to me. I have almost a month left here at Red Cloud and on the Rez. Anything can happen, both good or bad and who knows, maybe I’ll hit that bad streak awful soon.
But I’ll just think of tonight. Lincecum’s gem. Renteria’s home run. Wilson striking out Cruz to end the game on a 3–2 count.
And I’ll feel okay. I won’t feel doom about whatever the situation is, because it’ll remind me that despite all the bad times and crap we go through in life, there is hope and there is promise and there is joy.
Who says sports can’t teach us things?