Is It Really All Random? Headline Animator

Words

I try to pinpoint words that when strung together, like beads in a necklace, express something with texture and richness; I hope for the occasional sparkle of a well placed gem. I frequently fail miserably. But on a good day, as with a candid photo, I unexpectedly capture a heartbeat, and it feels as if I've successfully seized fog with my hands.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

T Minus Ten Days and Counting

I don't think the months have diminished the high of the World Series win. Tomorrow, when part of the world is eating wings and nachos, dialed into the the Super Bowl, I will know pitchers and catchers report in nine days. And that's all that really counts. 


It was fun to read what I had written the day after the Giants took the series. Back when they only claimed the division because the Pads choked. And Atlanta went down because they were injured. And the NL buzz-saw called the Phillies failed to expose the pretenders. The baseball gods had spoken and the magic lasted right on passed the Rangers. Was it really all random?  So from November 2, 2010:




Today is the morning after, and I awakened to find it’s true. My Giants have won the World Series.

Of course, I'm happy — happy as one can be that hasn’t completely absorbed a situation — I’m also in my head. I can fully enjoy small bits of the season, one morsel at a time, the stories that emerged from this team now known as “misfits and cast-offs”, but the banquet that is last night is overwhelming. Still, something feels complete. 

Tomorrow is the parade down Market Street to City Hall. My husband and I will be going. With a few hundred thousand of my closest friends, I’m sure I will know it’s finally true.

I can't remember a time that the Giants haven’t been a part of my life. When I was in grammar school, before wild card teams and division play-offs, the Series took place the first week of October. It was then that I would come home from school to find my mom teetering on a ladder, washing the kitchen ceiling to the blare of the series on the radio. They were day games then.

I remember Juan Marichal hitting Johnny Roseboro on the head with a bat, Don Drysdale dusting Willie Mays off the plate with an inside fastball, and the Alou brothers. Jose Pagan, Orlando Cepeda. I remember Willie McCovey’s ever-present smile. Bobby Bonds. The sad day Mays went to the Mets. And when he came home. For once he was one of us it was hard to acknowledge he'd ever had another.

For a while in college in Georgia, I was too cool for baseball.  Once back in the Bay Area it was Giants time and every goofy, damnable trade Tom Haller ever made.  Then came the news that Horace Stoneham was selling the team and it would likely be relocated to Toronto. I’d never been part of a letter writing campaign, but I learned fast. To every newspaper, every team owner and all MLB executives went my plea to save the Giants for the city by the bay. 

An owner wrote back personally that as long as there was breath in his body, the Giants would stay here. A rivalry for all time, said Walter O'Malley, owner of the Dodgers. Brooklyn and New York, LA and San Francisco. He wouldn’t let the Giants leave. He was good as his word and Bob Lurie emerged to save the team and keep them here. Lurie also lost money every year he had them. During his watch the Giants hired the first black manager in baseball, as Frank Robinson took the helm.

By the late 80s, the Giants fielded an almost team, “Humm, baby”. I watched every circle Jeffrey Leonard made around the base paths in St. Louis, ‘one flap down’ during the ‘87 NLCS, as well as Candy Maldonado’s boggled almost catch in right field. There was Dave Dravecky’s amazing comeback in 1989, and his broken arm mid-pitch the following start. He crumpled to the ground.

The Giants won the National League pennant on what would have been my daughter’s tenth birthday.  I stood cheering, then screaming, part of the din at Candlestick, as they beat the Cubs for the title, in the moment, separate from the moment. 10/09/79 she had been born, and died, and I thought I’d never smile again. Ten years later I shared the pennant winning moment with my husband and eight-year old son thinking one never knows what life will provide if you hang on and keep grinding it out, and nothing illustrates that better than baseball.

That year we witnessed the shutout, earthquake Series, followed by a few years never as good or as bad as those I remembered—until the heartbreak in 2002, which was both.  During the time in the middle the Giants were sold to a group of investors in Florida. This time letters couldn’t save my guys from a new destination in more hospitable climes.

I’d been at Candlestick Park, wind blowing, bundled against the elements, when they broke their low attendance record for three consecutive days. I sat on the right field side, a little off first base, with my own personal vendor in a 58,000 seat park that had 1,600 fans in attendance. Who could blame Bob Lurie for finally baling?  But the Magowan group stepped in and we were spared the loss of a team with a history and pride to match no other. A franchise whose number of wins exceeds the New York Yankees.

This game is no one-night stand. I'm reeled in for life.  “...I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.” Bart Giamatti’s, “Green Fields of the Mind”.

So. Here we are with different names and faces, generations later but with the same dream, realized.  Yup, it will take a while to absorb this. I can’t help but think of my late husband, and the hundreds of games we saw together while raising our boy to appreciate a sport that many have loved, few have fully understood, and only a scarce and elite group have played.  There is a kinship between this game and me, and with those who play it, pitch by pitch, breath by breath, for 162 games and six months of each year. 

102 days till pitchers and catchers report to camp.





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