As I write this, the Giants are about to take on the Pirates for the National League Wild Card. It’s a one-game, winner-take-“all” playoff, where the winner gets to face the Nationals in the National League Divisional Series starting on Friday.
To say I’m a little wound up would be an understatement. I have an Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale (because it’s from SF) to calm me down.
I swear this team gives me ulcers and probably has taken a year or two of my life. I spend what probably adds up to days or even weeks every year obsessing over this team.
The first answer is that my dad brainwashed an infant.
I’ve mentioned this before, but my mom grew up just north of LA. She and her whole family are/were Dodgers fans. My dad was born in New York and moved to the Bay Area when he was 5. He’s always been a Giants fan.
When I, the first child, was born, my dad swore up and down that no child of his would EVER be a Dodgers fan. So he would rock me to sleep chanting “Go Giants!” over and over. I was a wee tyke during the “Humm Baby” years and my first favorite players were Will Clark and Matt Williams, when I watched a game and just barely knew what was going on. Then there was the strike and the team was terrible for a few years, and I became a pouty, angsty tween.
Then 1997 happened.
Out of nowhere (to me, at least) the Giants were good. Like, really good. Like, made it to the postseason for the first time in my memory good. I started paying more attention to games, listening to them on the radio, following box scores and new favorite players (JT Snow and Shawn Estes). I started devouring both baseball and Giants history.
I fell in love with baseball.
Maybe it was pure luck that the Giants started winning right when I was at the age where I was old enough to understand the game, but still young enough to want to be captured by it. If they had stayed abysmal, maybe I’d be an A’s or Angels or Diamondbacks fan right now (ick). Or maybe I would be ambivalent towards baseball.
Instead, I am utterly devoted to this team. To this weird and quirky game, one descended from games we’ve played for literally thousands of years. To a city. To a bunch of grown men paid ludicrous amounts to swing sticks through the air and try to make contact with a little ball.
Why do I love this team? This game? I realized why, at least partly, when Matt Cain threw his perfect game in 2012. My parents and brother were at that game. It was a random weeknight game they picked because my brother was out of school for the summer and they probably got good deals on tickets. I don’t know. They, along with 40,000-odd people, walked in thinking they’d just enjoy an early summer night at a ballgame.
They walked out having witnessed history.
That’s crazy. And awesome. Every year, a team has 162 chances — 162!! — to do something awesome. Most of those chances go to waste, just becoming part of the rhythm and soundtrack of spring and summer. But every so often, something absolutely amazing will happen. And that’s just freaking cool.