So the San Francisco Giants are back in the playoffs.
For a guy who grew up worshipping the Los Angeles Dodgers – I may still have a Don Drysdale autograph on a paper placemat somewhere – it wasn’t easy giving up my hate for the Dodgers’ archrival when I moved to San Francisco in 1989. But, gradually, the years of following the local teams in the newspapers and on television wore me down.
There was the Word Series run in 2002 when the Giants had the title in their grasp but gave it up the last two games. What I remember most about that series, though, is J.T. Snow running in to score on a play and then sweeping up manager Dusty Baker’s 5-year-old son who had wandered in at the wrong moment to pick up a bat. Much more than the big-market Dodgers playing a stone’s throw away from Hollywood, the Giants always seemed like a family – even when they were bickering.
Then came 2010 and their truly magical playoff run.
Suddenly, in late September the Giants were on the verge of winning their division. This was a team with one star pitcher, unproven kids and aging players cast off from other teams. We went to the game when they first had a chance to clinch the division title. They lost and would wait two more days until the final regular season game to accomplish that feat. But, we got our orange rally towels and were hooked.
We waved them in front of the TV when the Giants clinched and jogged around the ballpark shaking hands with the crowd. We waved them when they knocked out their more heavily favored opponents three times in a row. First, the Atlanta Braves and their soon-to-retire manager, the legendary Bobby Cox. Then the Phillies, chock full of stars who had dominated the National League the previous two years. And, finally, the powerhouse Rangers.
It was the first World Series win for the Giants since their move to California in 1957. It was a great story. The black beards. The skinny ace pitcher taunted at away games for his long hair. The star catcher with the throwback name (“Buster”) and personality who came up from the minors at midseason just in time to lead the team. So many late, come from behind games that the team motto became “Torture” even before they made the playoffs.Giants Celebrate Division Series Win
I got an added bonus. The younger of my two daughters – then 11 – got the bug at least for a year and went out for a softball team. We played catch every other day through the Spring. She moved on to other sports – notably gymnastics and circus skills where I’m no help. But, the gloves, yellow balls and aluminum bat are on the shelf when needed and she knows how to use them.
And, I’ve got someone else in the household who wonders why Lincecum suddenly seems to walk more batters than he strikes out and understands the wonder of the Giants’ comeback from a 0-2 hole to beat the Reds in a five-game series.
I don’t know if they can win it all again. But, at least they kept the high-buck Dodgers – those Yankee wannabes – at home for the post season.
I guess I really am a Giants fan.
Robert B. Lowe