For a while, I couldn’t figure out what the best part of the Giants winning the World Series was, but I think I figured it out. The best part was everything. The champagne tasted like distilled, carbonated life force. The parade was a sea of madness, validating every second that was spent watching an organization that was frustrating when they were bad, but even more frustrating when they were good. Everything was the best part. I could ride a Greyhound bus to Florida with only the memories of the World Series run to keep me entertained.
And, obviously, I want more. Another championship would be simply delightful. Winning it all is something that becomes a inexorable part of your being, like eating human flesh. No, seriously, it’s exactly like eating human flesh. Look at me, now: exactly like eating human flesh. The endorphins fire, the pupils dilate, you can’t believe it’s actually happening, but it’s so much better than you ever would have thought, and there’s no going back. No going back. We have the taste.
But there’s a pretty good chance that the Giants won’t do it again. Oh, that has nothing to do with the team -- the odds are against every team, regardless of how good they are -- so don’t think I’m conceding anything. Them’s just the odds. And there are fourteen teams who have waited 22 years or more for another World Series win, or who have never won a championship at all. Among the drought-stricken, here’s my personal rooting order:
16. Los Angeles Dodgers - I purposely set the cutoff at 22 years to annoy every Dodger fan reading this.
15. Malaria - I will root for malaria to win the World Series before the Dodgers.
14. San Diego Padres - Divisional rivals are divisional rivals. Whenever I feel a twinge of sympathy for the Padres, I remember the guy in the Ken Caminiti jersey trying to start a "Bonds cheated" chant, and I get over it.
13. New York Mets - Still ticked about 2000. Just because Bill Gates became rich and powerful doesn’t mean that he forgot about the time Benny Agbayani gave him an atomic wedgie in middle school. Or something.
12. Houston Astros - Still ticked about 1986. That’s pretty danged petty, for sure, but Mike Scott scuffed the soul of a young boy. I barely recovered. He started it.
11. Milwaukee Brewers - Maybe there’s a Brewers fan who isn’t also a Packers fan, but I doubt it, and they’ve had their taste of success. Also, Bud Selig. It should be noted, though, that the list from here on out is filled with teams I could see myself rooting for in a World Series.
10. Baltimore Orioles - In 1983, my dad took me to an A’s/Orioles game. This was right after I was given my first ever pack of baseball cards: a vend-pak of 1983 Fleer that contained a Benny Ayala card. When Ayala came to the plate, I cheered as if Neil Armstrong had just pinned Benito Mussolini in a wrestling match. My dad had to tell me to quiet down a little. I stared at the blinking cursor for and hour, and that’s the most interesting thing I could come up with for the Orioles. They’re not this low because I dislike them, they’re just there.
9. Washington Nationals - If I don’t care about the Orioles, then I really don’t care about the Nationals, but I’ll fall for the plight of the hypothetical fan I’ve invented in my mind. This one is a long-time Expos fan who still followed the franchise after the move. That dude’s been though some pain. Here’s a trophy.
8. Detroit Tigers - A historic franchise in an embattled city -- here’s where the teams start to become ones you might actively root for. They’d rank higher if they still played in Tiger Stadium, but they got bonus points for making sure the Padres didn’t win a World Series before the Giants did.
7. Chicago Cubs - This is the easy sentimental favorite, so it’s an upset for them to be this low, but as a baseball fan, I kind of like there to be one team that is totally, irrevocably cursed. It adds a magic and a tradition that is just so baseball, and I’m not even making that up. Sorry about drawing the short straw, Cubs fans, but keep on keeping on. There has to be a you.
6. Seattle Mariners - I like Lookout Landing, Seattle is a nice city, and it’s ridiculous that Kevin Durant plays basketball in Oklahoma. That’s about all I can think of, but it’s enough to put them up this high. The sabergasms over last year’s offseason might have knocked them down a little, but they served their penance last season. And if they chose Jesus Montero over Justin Smoak, like just about any other team in professional sports would have, maybe the Giants don’t win the World Series. So good work.
5. Texas Rangers - It’s a courtesy thing. Thanks for that thing you did for us back there, and we’ll, uh, be pulling for you in your future endeavors.
4. Kansas City Royals - If a tenth of the 3,239 top prospects they have pan out, they’ll be a ridiculously fun team to watch. While sympathy alone isn’t enough to get them the top spot, it’s enough to get them close, and, man, do I have sympathy for Royals fans. They’ve had to watch a ton of dreadful baseball over the past 20 seasons.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates - When Bonds came to San Francisco, he revitalized a city that was once sure it was going to lose its team. He set records. He was an all-time great -- the most talented player I’ve ever watched. But when he left Pittsburgh, he left some scorched earth. The Pirates haven’t been over .500 since they had him. For some reason, that makes me feel guilty. Like, just a little. But Pittsburgh also makes me think of "The Deer Hunter," and that cheers me right up.
2. Cleveland Indians - The perfect storm of sympathy. They watched a wild-card expansion team steal a World Series from them in the late innings. They haven’t won a title since shortly after World War II. And since they won their last title, they lost a World Series to the Giants. That takes skill.
1. San Francisco Giants - It’s been, like, 115 days since the Giants’ last title. So get out of here, you grubby, drought-stricken franchises, yearning to breathe free. We have our own little drought. Quit looking for handouts. In fact, quit hanging around here. You depress me. We’re so much better than you now.