It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977
For 53 years and 53 teams, baseball broke the hearts of San Franciscans, but tonight an improbable team ended years of frustration and enhanced the love of a sport and 25 guys who worked as one. As their management and the team tried to convey, the victory was for a city, for fans, for past players and for past generations. The atmosphere has been electric for the last month. You could feel how badly people wanted this one and perhaps needed it.
Torture was the word of the year to describe this team, but it really wasn’t one year. It was 53 years. A team of underdogs, a team of misfits, a team that nobody ever believed had a chance, was the team that everyone fell in love with. The team with a rich history of Hall of Famers had its most successful season with a bunch of no-names. In the future, many will not remember some of the names that helped to bring San Francisco it’s first baseball championship. As I mentioned previously, the City of San Francisco loves its champions, but more they love their champions who do it the right way. The 2010 San Francisco Giants did it the right way. There will be many who say they knew this team had it from day 1, but if they tell you that, they are liars. A team of misfits, discards from other teams, showed the world what teamwork is all about. They have said repeatedly this post-season that the most talented team doesn’t always win. It’s the team that plays the best that wins. As late as the beginning of August this team was in 4th place and 7 or 8 games out of 1st place, but the team showed how baseball is a parallel to life. You work hard, you keep grinding, and you never stop believing.
As a San Francisco native I am overwhelmed. There are hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of natives who grew up in the same generation as me, who had moms or dads that introduced them to baseball at Candlestick Park or Seals Stadium and had to wait their whole lives. Everyone has their own unique story. There are many people like me who wish the dad that introduced them to the sport were here to enjoy and celebrate with them. Yes baseball is just a game, but it is America’s past time. It is like life itself. Unlike those in New York who have 27 Championships, this is San Francisco’s first. For those who have waited their whole lives for this day, it is a day to be savored. Hopefully it won’t be 53 years until another championship is won. Those who had seen things go wrong in the past know the heartache and how sweet this victory is. This will not be taken for granted. It will be cherished. It will be savored. The team itself reminded everyone of the history of the organization. It reminded those not old enough about the heartaches of the 3 previous attempts at the World Championship. It reminded me of the great history of San Francisco, and it reminded me of all the great things the City has to offer. The team helped me to teach my son about all the great history and people that built this City. My son saw Joe Montana, Bob Weir, Steve Perry, Danny Glover, and a slew of other celebrities from the area cheering for the team just like him. Somewhere around the 7th inning of Game 2 he started to grasp the gravity of the situation and understood the passion around the desire to win the whole thing. A World Series victory would be the beginning of a big healing process.
There is an old adage in baseball that as Spring Training begins, hope always springs eternal. No matter what I am always optimistic about the Giant’s chances. This year I wasn’t. I really felt this team didn’t have what it would take. It shows how life is so unpredictable, how what is perceived could also be deceiving. Baseball and life are unpredictable and just when you least expect it, it will serve you up a surprise.
Growing up watching Mays, Marichal, Perry, Cepeda, McCovey, Clark, Mitchell, Speier, Fuentes and all it is amazing this team has accomplished something that those other teams couldn’t. No heroes, just a bunch of blue collar ballplayers. Fortunately for me I was able to share a little bit with my own son and helped him to understand how unique an experience this is and how unique this team is. Attending the last game played at home and also participating in the Opening Ceremonies of Game 2 of the World Series was not only a unique experience, but it was the creation of a memory that he will keep forever. Having my son tell me, “I will never ever forget this day” was a highlight for me. I remember when my dad took me to see Ed Halicki’s no-hitter back in the late-70s as if it were yesterday. I know my son will be thinking the same even 30 years from now.
It is only fitting that Edgar Renteria, a player that is at the end of his career and contemplating retirement was the MVP of the series. He spent many months on the bench, has a torn muscle in his arm, yet was one of the many heroes in the end. Hard work, determination and a never say die attitude, were Edgar’s message to all. It’s one we should all learn to employ in life.
I am speechless to say the least. I am more choked up than anything else. The memory of all those who never got to see this day, but taught us to love this team, this City, and the game of baseball would be proud of the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants. They were not only a team of destiny, but true deserving champions in every sense of the word. A team of misfits who fit perfectly together.
As I write this, there is honking and hollering in the streets. The younger generations are celebrating in the bars and dancing in the streets, but I know there are many like me also sitting at home with not so dry eyes thinking of those who never got to see this but helped us to appreciate this moment. They taught us how to “love the laundry” (as Seinfeld calls it). Such a bittersweet time in San Francisco.
The much maligned announcer, Joe Buck, said it best….”America’s Most Beautiful City now owns Baseball’s Sweetest Accomplishment”.