Author's Note: I jotted down some assorted thoughts, ramblings and joy-soaked musings a day after my San Francisco Giants completed their four game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to clinch their second World Series Championship in three years. Reading them over a few weeks later, I decided to edit them together into an essay because, well, I’m still really happy about the fact that my San Francisco Giants completed a four game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to clinch their second World Series Championship in three years. But if what I’ve written below makes no sense to you, it’s likely due to the fact that most of it was scribbled while I was under the influence of bourbon. Or because you are an android hiding underneath a human endoskeleton and are, thus, incapable of feeling human emotion.
If a person made me as irate as often as sports have over the course of my lifetime, there’s a reasonable chance I would currently be wasting away in some federal prison on a totally justified involuntary manslaughter charge. This is probably a silly overstatement that, somehow, feels absolutely true.
It’s silly because it is ludicrous to get vicariously wrapped up in the successes and failures of a bunch of strangers being paid millions of dollars to play a game for a living. It requires not only a suspension of logic, but of all practical intelligence, to think any team winning a professional sports championship has any real bearing on the day-to-day life of anyone other than the people either directly (or even indirectly) involved. But the Giants have just won it all for the second time in three years and I am elated. I am elated for my Mom (a die-hard fan), my friends (who toiled in misery with me during the lean years) – hell, I’m even elated for the players, coaches and owners; none of whom I know personally, all of whom make a lot more money than me, are probably arch-conservative, right-wing fanatics and should, thus, be the objects of my scorn. But most of all, I’m elated for The Bay Area, for reasons only someone who has ever had to leave that glorious place for some place decidedly less glorious could understand.
Grant Brisbee put it nicely when he stated that this was probably the greatest Giants season we’d ever see. Not because of the sort of statistical dominance that would otherwise define “greatness” in sports, but because of the multitude of crazily compelling, all-is-lost-to-joy-in-our-hearts moments that have occurred. Think about what’s happened this season: Posey’s comeback, Lincecum’s downfall, Cain’s perfect game, Melky’s suspension, Panda’s triple in the All-Star Game, Belt and Crawford’s ascension, all the way back to Posey lighting up the second half on his way to what was just awarded an MVP season. And that’s not even getting into the postseason, where we watched the two-week miniseries Their Backs Against The Wall™ - capped off with images of rain-soaked ballplayers facing the heavens above – and not one, not two, but THREE REDEMPTION STORIES unfold in the narratives of “Vogelsong: The Nomad,” “How Lincecum Got His Stuff Back” and, maybe most importantly, the six year saga that has been “Barry Zito and The Albatross Contract.” Speaking of Zito --
Four years ago, I was at bar in San Francisco’s Marina District with a group of friends drinking away the agony of another Zito-started Giants loss earlier that evening. Unsurprisingly, I have no recollection of any of the details of that particular loss (not even to whom we lost), despite vividly remembering the stream of curse words a friend and I exchanged over our miserable team. And then we saw him. In the corner of the bar, in a nice leather jacket, Barry F#*king Zito was tossing back what smelled like tequila shots with some smoking hot blonde. For all I know, he was doing the same thing we were, burying whatever sorrow a multi-millionaire who was great with the ladies, but sucked at his job, could possibly be experiencing. And it angered the hell out of me. In that moment, I actually hated Barry Zito. Isn’t that weird? And not because of some dumb platitude that you can’t hate someone you don’t know – because I don’t know Rush Limbaugh, either, and I hate his stinking guts – but because What the hell has Barry Zito ever done to me?!
I recalled this memory while watching Barry Zito throw 5 2/3 highly competent innings during Game 1 of the World Series. This following his 7 2/3 shutout innings in Game 5 of the NLSC that, without exaggeration, saved the team’s season. I found myself rooting for him. Hard. I don’t know that I’d ever done that in the six seasons he’s been on the team. I wanted him to succeed not just for the greater good of the team, but also for the good of what had now become the third act of the sports movie that is his career with the Giants.
So I am drunk with happy. Drunk with the emotions of seeing a team I’ve watched for more than twenty five years win it all. Again. But most of all, I am drunk with a weird strain of joy-fueled homesickness. Twice now, the Giants have won it all while I was watching in the same lucky corner of my Los Angeles apartment. How I wish I could’ve jumped for joy on the corner of Third and King Street with the rest of the revelers. But I didn’t. I was here. And you know what? I would gladly take the overwhelming homesickness that comes with hearing Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, Jon Miller and Dave Fleming calling the Giants’ winning strikeout in the World Series over the kind of irrational rage that leads a sports fan to want to commit involuntary manslaughter. Both feelings are patently absurd and, yet, somehow make absolutely perfect sense.