Baseball is so depressing these days! Both for reasons that matter and don’t. Greg Halman is a reason that matters. The annoying results of the MVP races is a reason that doesn’t. The new CBA that is going to turn every awesome amateur baseball player away from the sport falls somewhere in between, more towards the not-mattering side of the spectrum, but nonetheless, all these things taken in a large two day chunk can get a guy down on things. Also, it’s raining, and cold. So there’s that.
Now seems like as good a time as ever to think back on good and better times. Like sort of a year ago when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and my wife and I were in the city with our friends and it was all a big mess of chaotic fun. I’ve been putting off writing this, mostly because I think my experience sort of defies description (One, I was drinking, and Two, I’m not that good of a writer), because the pictures don’t really do things justice, and because I’m unsure about how interesting this would seem to other people. Oh well, here goes.
I have a funny relationship with the San Francisco Giants. In college, as I was easing back into liking baseball again after a decent hiatus, it was fantasy drafts and friends from San Francisco who got the ball rolling. These guys were like I am now, and they knew a ton about the game and even more about their hometown team. For one reason or the other, being the cultured admirer of letters and fine writing that I am, I began to somewhat regularly read McCovey Chronicles. And so for a while, I knew more about the San Francisco Giants and the players on my fantasy team than I did about the Seattle Mariners. Drafting Eric Bedard in the third round before his first season in Seattle was a bad choice. And so time passed, and my enthusiasm for the game evolved, and I started reading a great deal of other websites and articles, and here we are. Last season, when the Giants made the playoffs, I jokingly agreed with my wife that if they went all the way to the World Series, that we’d go down to San Francisco to watch the games with our friends. Turns out the Giants made it to the World Series and it turns out that joke turned into reality.
That’s a picture of the television we watched a number of World Series games on, including the deciding Game 5. And that’s also where I was sitting. Come to think of it, that’s also my cell phone on the TV stand. Still rocking the LG Chocolate, fools. Anyway, the room we were in was rather small, and extremely crowded. I want to say that a comfortable number of people would have been about 9 or 10, and there were regularly more like 13 or 14. Those last few people make a big difference, but what the fuck, these people were serious about their Giants, and I guess this is how people who are in their mid-twenties and single live. Weirdos. Let’s flash forward to the final out of the World Series because I can already tell we’re threatening to go long here. tl;dr, am I right? The final swing and miss by Nelson Cruz was pretty crazy in that small living room. So rarely is excitement and anticipation palpable, but it was during that game, and it grew up to that moment. The reality of this thing happening—this thing that all of these people really quite desperately wanted to happen, and had wanted to happen for a long time—was actually pretty powerful. And then the pitch, and the swing, and the miss, and the Brian Wilson, and things were very loud and very frantic from that moment on. The room erupted, people hugged one another. We spilled out into the hallway and kitchen and up a rickety old staircase onto a roof. We drank beer and popped champagne and yelled at people in other buildings and down on the street. Soon after we were on the street as well, drinking from paper bags and half-running down the hill towards the Civic Center some many blocks away. People were really very happy and jovial. The sidewalks and roads were already packed. We all yelled and high-fived strangers. Cars were constantly honking. Black and Orange was everywhere.
We arrived at the Civic Center to a monstrous crowd and government buildings lit in orange. People had been watching the game all evening and there were large screens projecting the postgame or something. Mostly everyone was yelling and jumping around and hugging each other. I think those actions may emerge as a theme. I honestly don’t really remember what we did there. We drank some beers and looked around and just took it all in. These pictures of the masses really don’t do them justice. It was a wall of people everywhere the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. I don’t get out much. Eventually we settled on a nearby bar where they played We Are the Champions and Don’t Stop Believing and whatnot. After a while someone thought it would be a good idea to walk to the stadium. Not all that familiar with the geography of downtown San Francisco, and in the company of drunk fanatics, we all agreed it was a great idea. I don’t know how many blocks or miles it was, or how long it actually took to walk, but it felt like a really long ways and a really long time. There were just as many people down in front of the stadium, but the vibe was altogether different.
The closer we got to what I assume is the home plate entrance of the park, the thicker the group of people became until we had to start slowly inching our way through a huge throng of people. For a few moments I could see that everyone was crowded around the main street intersection, where a sort of serious size fire had been started. People were throwing things on top of the fire and jumping over it. Bottles began to be thrown. The distinct sound of breaking glass became more and more prevalent. You got the feeling that a riot hadn’t quite started, but that it wouldn’t take much to make things official. The atmosphere felt volatile and fragile. The alcohol seemed to be slowly overtaking the happiness. People looked like they knew they could get away with something if they were so inclined. There was a definite contrast between this scene and the one at the Civic Center and while I didn’t feel unsafe at the time, I was definitely more aware of the attitude and people around us, and wasn’t opposed to moving on. We walked away from the main gathering and sat around the statue of Juan Marichal, closer to the water and further from the chaos. Able to observe the scene without being fully in it. The positive vibe returned. We took more pictures and watched as a local television reporter broadcast around a big group of yelling, happy fans. We took our time for a while, enjoying, what I might imagine one could argue baseball and sports is all about, the company of friends and shit. The group of real Giants fans we were with decided to go to another part of town and soak in some more celebration. My wife and I took a cab back to where we were sleeping as we had to catch our plane in the morning. We had scheduled our trip in an attempt to catch as many games possible in San Francisco. Games 2-through-5. The only way we were able to experience this whole thing was because the Giants did something kind of incredible and beat a supremely talented team quicker than they probably should have. Sometimes things work out. Sometimes baseball delivers on your expectations and even exceeds them.