It’s been so long since we’ve had a winner in San Francisco, or anywhere around here, really (unless the Sharks’ yearly flameouts in the Western Conference Playoffs have left you satisfied). Maybe that’s why it’s like we almost don’t know how to react to bandwagon jumpers when they inevitably hop on to enjoy the ride.
The 2007 “We Believe” Warriors had a ton of bandwagoners, as did the 49ers in 1981, 1984, and 1989-1995. The Giants of 1987 and 1997, too. The more the merrier, or would you rather it be quieter and less crowded during post-game celebrations like last night? Just because half the dudes in town are wearing Giants hats and hipster beards doesn’t mean we have to become baseball hipsters, all high and mighty about fans who got into the team for the wrong reasons, like the Giants are some band who used to be awesome but then sold out and did a bunch of commercials for huge American sedans and software companies.
You can’t say this area deserves athletic brilliance more than other areas. The natural beauty’s still all around us. The economy is lagging and unemployment is high, but that’s no different than anywhere else. Celebrating the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake was most striking in that it made you remember that this area hasn’t had a natural disaster of any great significance for 21 years. This isn’t about real life, it’s just about sports. And since January of 1995, for the most part sports has slapped us in the face with one hand while taking $30 for parking from us with the other.
Painful losses to the Green Bay Packers, Florida Marlins, New York Yankees, Utah Jazz, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Colorado Rockies, etc. Ownership changes. Ownerships that wouldn’t change, no matter how much we hoped they would. Scott Spezio. Jose Cruz, Jr. Dennis Erickson. Brett Favre. Chris Cohan. Armando Benitez. Jeremy Giambi. Derek Jeter. Alex Smith. Barry Zito. Dr. John York. Nellieball. Overhead projector. It was such a constant driving rainstorm of absolute crap that lasted over a decade, making people wonder: what’s wrong with us? Isn’t there money around here? Don’t people care? Are we cursed? If this is cyclical, how come every time we see a team start a new season it looks the same? Are we trapped in the most mediocre cycle of all time?
That’s why people can’t yell loud enough right now. Why the tension seems higher, more “torturous.” We just forgot what a great team looks like, and spent most of the year rationalizing how they’d screw this up. Now every base hit, every double play Javier Lopez induces, all of it feels like a euphoric dream that everyone in the city, the county, the northern half of the state, doesn’t want to end. Hey, if the bandwagon getting full means no more people saying “sit down please” in the box seats during huge moments, then keep loadin’ that sucker up. Because there are so many people who forgot what winning feels like, and want to soak up every last drop now (it tastes so good when it hits your lips).
I was in Chateau de BASG last night, standing in the living room — because sitting on the couch makes me want to hold a laptop these days, and this isn’t laptop baseball. This is ball your fist and get ready to pump it baseball. This is talking to your dad on the phone more often than at any time in the past 10 years baseball. This is taking a road trip to San Diego and taking over an opposing stadium baseball. This is flooding City Hall and Coit Tower with orange lights at night baseball.This is high-fiving a stranger fastball. Actually, this is giddily shoving your friend really hard and then hugging him or her immediately afterward baseball. This is making up songs every day about your team baseball. This is talking about it in the elevator baseball. This is scaring your dog with hoots and hollers baseball. If this makes me sound like a homer, a quasi-journalist who’ll never question the teams I root for, fine. Because it’s been a long time, and I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about terrible teams. Like Buster Posey last night, I AM DUE. We all are!
I’m going to take my writer’s hat off tonight after work, put my Giants hat on, and watch Game 5 in one of the downtown sports bars with my fiance and thousands of others, ready to scream for Tim Lincecum, who if the Phillies can defeat is followed by Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain. This is too important to watch at home, not when home is 3 miles away from the downtown craziness. The Giants are in control right now, and Philly’s middle infield looks old and tired. That doesn’t mean the Phillies won’t go down without a huge Phight (sorry) this evening, because nothing that feels this good ever comes easy.