I’m Still Pinching Myself

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

            OK, so this has been an amazing 24 hours or so. From the first call I got at 2:30 AM Greenwich Mean Time from Deb Brondolo in San Jose saying “Job done,” it has been a big breath of fresh air. I have been a fan of the San Francisco Giants since 1971! At that time, they still had four Hall-of-Famers (Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Perry) playing for them, but they couldn’t go any further that year than losing a best of five play-off to the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games. Little did I know then that this team would dismantle itself, rebuild, suck numerous times, then keep enticing with moments of brilliance that ultimately weren’t enough to get the job done.

               The 70s and 80s were mostly a wasteland, as they continued to field mediocre teams made up of players who couldn’t wait to get the fuck out. There was a spark in the mid-80s with the team of home-grown stars, but when they were put in the Big Show, i.e. the 1989 World Series against the cross-Bay rival Oakland Athletics, they looked totally pathetic. Will Clark, Robby Thompson, and Matt Williams were great players, but not enough. In 1992, they signed Barry Bonds to a 6-year contract. The results came immediately with a 1993 season in which the team managed to win 103 games but not make the playoffs because division rival Atlanta won 104. The team had to redefine itself after that, for Will realized he was not the best player on the team anymore, and had a below par season, so in 1994 signed with Texas as a free agent. (Isn’t that ironic, the Giants played Texas in the World Series, and Clark aligned with SF, totally dismissing the 4 years he spent in Texas!)

                 The teams of 1997-2002 were brilliant, the tandem of Bonds and Jeff Kent proving to be a strong offensive weapon. The team had three post-season appearances, culminating in the 2002 World Series against Team Disney, aka the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Bonds was to have a major breakout, having stunk up the place in all his prior playoff experience. Two years earlier, he’d hit 73 home runs, as tainted a record as the love that Soft Cell sang about. It was majestic to see a Bonds home run off Angels closer Troy Percival that seemed to travel to such remarkable heights, the cameras feeling compelled to focus on players in both dugouts marveling at the impossibility of a ball being hit so ridiculously hard. As it turns out, and no matter how much he denies it, Barry had a little help! Still, the failure of the bullpen in Game 6, and the total lack of hitting in Game 7, made it clear that this wasn’t quite the team of destiny.

                        So who’d have thought that this 2010 team, that had little in the way of speed or clutch hitting, that at one point in the season was a blasé 41-40, could scrap their way to the final convincing victory against a reputedly hard-hitting team whose deficiencies were laid bare by a solid pitching staff? Cliff Lee came into this World Series with a 7-0 post season record; he’s now 7-2, giving up 10 runs in his two losses. There are maybe 2-3 future Hall-of-Famers on this roster (leave it up to you, the Giants fan, to determine who they are) as opposed to the teams of the 60s that sported FIVE, but couldn’t make it to the Big Show, let alone WIN it. Whatever it is, the Good Guys, Freak, MadBum, Matty, Edgar, Cody, Buster, Huff Daddy, and The Beards came through for their long-suffering fans, including this writer, who remembers those mid-week ballgames in the 70s when maybe 2000 fans showed up. Didn’t matter that it was July, there’d be all those empty seats as a crap team would play a meaningless game against the Padres or Astros, the oppressive winds making a bigger statement, but the fans hung in there anyway. Nice to see us finally get rewarded for our unshaken faith. 

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