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The Giants and the holiday season

It’s a holiday weekend and what better time than now to evaluate your own sense of mortality?

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

I have fond memories of being a Giants fan around the holidays. I vaguely celebrate Christmas because my family does, and there have been many years in the last decade that were filled with all sorts of Giants World Series memorabilia.

One of my first tweets to Grant was about how my family only gets presents from me when the Giants win the World Series. At the time, it was sound reasoning. Not so much anymore, but who could expect it to be. (I have bought many fine shirts, appliances and gift cards for my family this year, don’t worry. This policy is no longer in place.)

Anyway, it’s the holiday season which means we’re coming up on a new year that can’t get here soon enough, despite the probability that it will not be any better than the current year. But that hope, man, that hope is what keeps us going.

Not just in life, but in baseball. 2017 was an awful year, in general, and having a baseball team that wasn’t terrible really might have helped. But, we don’t get nice things anymore and we’re not allowed to complain about it, at least in terms of baseball. Literally no other baseball fans want to hear Giants fans complain. Even though many people never considered the period of time where they were winning World Series after World Series more than a fluke, they still don’t want to hear it. And, fair enough. (But you will call it a dynasty and you will kiss these rings.)

Most of you know that I also write about the Golden State Warriors over on Golden State of Mind. One of my colleagues, Bram Kincheloe, has a weekly read, where he kind of talks about whatever he wants and it’s usually tangentially related to the Warriors or the NBA. Now, I’m not here to steal his thing, but I thought, since it’s a holiday weekend and Grant is unlikely to want to write about this garbage team again this weekend, I would throw this out there.

So, let’s talk about Evan Longoria. Not the trade, or the money, or the value he may bring to the team. Let’s talk about the fact that, for the first time in my life, people were complaining about the Giants trading for an old player - and I nodded along - and then I looked him up and he was my age.

Many of you have likely already experienced this, so consider your “lol young” noted. But for me, it was like an out of body experience. I’ve heard the same said a lot about people my age in the NBA, but as my dad is fond of saying, “Basketball is a young man’s game.” Which is mostly true and I had accepted that reality.

But I distinctly remember the first time I saw a baseball player who was younger than me and having the same reaction. I think it was in 2007, it was definitely against the Padres, and I was 22. I was at the ballpark and a young player’s face and info came up on the screen and I saw that he was two months younger than me and I had the Mr. Krabs meme reaction.

Growing up as a baseball fan, or growing up in general, you always assume that the players are going to be older than you. You assume there will be an adult around. The first time you find yourself in a situation thinking “Man, I need to find an adult” and realize that you are, in fact, the adult - the meme also applies here.

When I was 19, I was in a terrible fireworks misfire accident. The adults in my family were freaking out, while their kids reacted to that by also freaking out, and I realized “Wait, I might actually have to be the adult here.” Which ended in me clutching a small child to me who was not, in fact, my cousin’s son, and refusing to let him leave the area. I was not ready to adult.

When I was 22, seeing that baseball player’s age on the screen, I was still not an adult. Are you kidding me? I was either drinking 4 Lokos or helping puking friends to get home. How did anyone have their life together enough to be a professional baseball player?

And now, ten years later, to realize that I am on the old end of the baseball scale (with exceptions, of course) is really something.

Bryan and I talked about this on the CainCast episode of the McCovey Chroncast, discussing Matt Cain’s career and accomplishments. Cain is roughly six months older than me and he is retired. Tim Lincecum is almost in the same boat and might as well be retired. You start to think about all that these people have accomplished and compare it to what you’ve accomplished in the same amount of time and that, my friends, is not healthy.

I cannot throw a fastball. I cannot catch a fastball. I couldn’t hit a fastball. There’s a reason I played co-ed colleague softball as the extent of my amateur baseball related career. Man, I was a regular Buster Posey of slow pitch softball. Leaning slightly to the left to get the pitcher to throw a strike that would bounce into my glove. Good times. But I digress.

When your interests revolve around mostly sports and sports-adjacent content, it’s easy to get sucked into an “old before your time” mentality when you watch how people your age get discussed. And the discussions aren’t generally incorrect, there are issues associated with aging. Don’t I know it. Spending an evening with Epsom salt and Icy Hot all because of one week at my office day job tells me that anyone my age would have to be in exceptionally good shape to survive professional sports.

But adjusting to hearing people call athletes your age “washed” (aside from LeBron James, who seems to be aging in reverse, curse him) is certainly a Mr. Krabs moment in and of itself.

I know that I, myself, am not washed - I’m planning on running for city government and writing more and doing basically all of the things - but it can really get into your head and make you think you should have done more. And then you remember, “Oh, right, the career of a professional athlete is incredibly short compared to their relative lifespan.”

Which brings me back around to Timmy. My dear, sweet, McCovey Chronicles draft adoptee, Timmy. There will never be a side of me that doesn’t want to see him in a Giants uniform one more time, but that side quarrels with the side of me who hates to see him continue to struggle and fail. Do I want him to come out throwing heat at his showcase? You bet I do. Do I want to watch him wither and fade out for the third time? Oh god, no.

But as you get older, I’m realizing you start to want to hold on to the things that gave you comfort and happiness in your youth. Especially around the holidays. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain were that for me. One of them is out of the game, so I’m rooting for the other one.

Evan Longoria is still playing. And by god, I’m going to root for him to succeed. Because I know that the day is coming where there will no longer be a professional athlete who is my age and successful, and I am not ready to deal with that just yet.