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These Giants, Man. These Giants

October 21, 2014

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In which, for the third time in five years, you find yourself retroactively caring about the result of the MLB All-Star Game.

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First off: don’t pretend any of this makes sense. It’s baseball; it laughs maniacally in the face of sense while chewing on a rusty piece of baling wire and fondling a taxidermied mink. The Giants don’t deserve to be here. We don’t deserve to be here, again, wrapping our hopes and hearts and other vital organs around a short series of athletic competitions that mean everything and nothing in equal measure.

Deserve, though, ain’t got nothing to do with it. It’s happening: another World Series at Third and King, by the shores of McCovey Cove. The bandwagon creaking under the weight of Panda Hats™. Take it, smell it, rub it on your chest. Taste it. Yeah…tastes good.

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Travis Ishikawa, the sort-of prospect from the end of the Bonds years who the Pirates had no use for in April, is a postseason hero. Hit one of the, oh, top five home runs in franchise history, he did. Top three if you’re feeling generous. That’s the first thing.

Hunter Pence, the result of an experiment involving weapons-grade plutonium and an ill-fated praying mantis, starred in a YouTube video about how he’s “too shy to get a table at Costco.” You can’t make this stuff up.

Ryan Vogelsong is still here, doing things. Brandon Belt got hit in the face by an errant asteroid and had his thumb bitten off my a malamute, but he’s OK now. Marco Scutaro crumbled into a pile of vertebrae dust, but then this fella from Fresno came along and was like, “Don’t panic.” But he spelled it with a “k.”

There are conventional heroes, too, the names that are etched deep into the alabaster of each October run: Madison Bumgarner, slinger of cutters and snot rockets; Buster Posey, the cherubic embodiment of light and wonder. And, of course, Bruce Bochy, lurching manager savant who can dive you to distraction over a 162-game slog but damn if the guy doesn’t pull aces when the lights get real bright.

These Giants, man. These Giants.

***

America is rooting for the Royals, just so we’re clear. Small-market success story, decades-long playoff drought, heartland, blue-collar blah blah blah. It’s like Cinderella and Rocky Balboa got drunk on strawberry margaritas and Miller High Life and had a bouncing baby boy named Chet Freedom.

The Giants are spoiled. We’re spoiled. We don’t need this, not again. That’s what they’ll tell you.

Then I close my eyes and picture an 11-year-old boy, ears glued to a fuzzy radio in his parents’ living room, listening as a 103-win season goes up in flames on the right shoulder of Salomon Torres and the bats of the stupid, stupid Dodgers. That was my team; I’d pinned a whole summer of hopes on those knuckleheads, and it all evaporated in front of me. The next season, as Matt Williams was chasing down Roger Maris, every player on every team packed up their gloves and quit. They canceled the World Series.

That was two seasons of utter baseball-related agony. A kick in the balls of my prepubescent psyche. And that was mere prelude to the ’02 debacle in Anaheim at the hands of those Disney-owned mongrels and their cloth monkeys. Then the Fall of Bonds. And more losing.

Every sports fan has a sob story. There are dudes in Chicago right now with threadbare Andre Dawson jerseys who would sell a kidney and/or their soul for a tiny taste of what we’ve been guzzling. But there was a time when an adult me was pretty sure he’d never see the Giants soak themselves in sparkling wine and leap around like idiots.

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Then I saw it. And I saw it again. I started a blog about this stupid, wonderful team. I parlayed that into a gig writing about baseball for actual money.

Because everyone is the star of his own movie, I felt like I’d put a bow on things. Like the credits had rolled, the outtakes had played and now we could return to normal, with “normal” defined as the Giants not winning any more World Series for a while, maybe for a long while. I was cool with that.

Now…this. What is this? What are we doing? Where are my pants? What’s this funny taste in my mouth?

Guys…seriously.

***

The Giants are about to play for the championship of baseball to become baseball champions. Again. Four to seven contests to decide if there’s another parade down Market Street. My son, who I’ve successfully injected with the Orange and Black serum, will have seen more World Series wins in seven years on Earth than many long-suffering fans saw in an entire lifetime.

Is this the new normal? Will the even-year mojo continue into perpetuity, climaxing when Tim Lincecum Jr. pitches a perfect game to nail down the 2038 Fall Classic?

I dunno, man. Probably not. It’s got to end some time. Maybe it’ll end with the Royals doing the champagne happy dance while we sulk and absolutely no one feels sorry for us. That’s probably what we deserve.

Remember though: deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it. Pay the quarter, take the ride. Wee!

***

These Giants, man. These Giants.

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