Walking down from the upper decks at Mays Field, there’s a ramp that takes you to the ground level. It’s an M.C. Esher-designed contraption with a .001% slope, and people loop around and around for a few miles. Last night, the ramp was a few flashers short of being Mardi Gras. Impromptu yelps and screams the whole way down. Mad high-fiving, and in a completely respectable, non-dorky way. My favorite: loud, raspy "Tim-my! Tim-my!" chants that sucked everyone in.
The Bay Area has fallen for the Giants. Well, of course. Everyone loves a winner. But it feels different. After the surprise of 1997 faded -- gee, how did we get...oh, it’s over -- the Giants were expected to win for the next eight or nine years. They’d waste a 73-homer season, and they’d go to a World Series. They’d give us hope, they’d break our hearts. But they were always expected to contend. When they got to the postseason, the mood ring was colored with "Okay, dammit, this year"-shades of orange.
Then came the Jose Castillo Era. Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and more resistant to various strains of Jose Castillo. The era takes Castillo’s name because he was the archetypal player for that wretched stretch of baseball, even if he wasn't even around for a full season -- he couldn’t hit, couldn’t take a walk, couldn’t field, and he had nothing to do with the ludicrous "speed and defense" philosophy the organization was trying to foist on us. He was a shot in the dark, and the bullet took out the light switch.
Right now, it feels like that unfortunate stretch of bad, unwatchable teams had to happen. It feels like we’re watching the montage that segues into the crowd-friendly resolution. It’s impossible for a Giants fan to not be completely in love with this team filled with homegrown stars, diamonds in the rough, and feel-good reclamation projects.
The only problem I can see is that all of these good tidings don’t really mean a danged thing on the field. The Giants still have to win games, and they still have an offense than can get completely shut down, which is what happened last night. It’s possible that the Giants could lose their next three games by a combined 30 runs. Just because a team is likable and compelling doesn’t mean the rest of the league is impressed enough to roll over. It’s possible that we’re just being set up for a larger heartbreak.
But that paragraph is just a dark, locked part of our subconscious right now. Can’t think like that. This feels like a team with some magic in it. There hasn’t been a team this easy to root for since...since...
1987. It’s 1987 again, and this time we left Candy Maldonado off the roster. Let’s try it again. This could be good.