Thursday, October 8, 2015
OK, now it's over
Though I didn't figure them to fall short in so painful a way, they did. No World Series repeat this year.
The Giants did me a favor.
They freed me.
I crawl out now from under my self-imposed tyranny, of following the Giants' every move, every triumph and torturous pratfall.
I am relieved of the sweet burden of having stayed with my team for the last seven months.
I cast aside the nightly yoke of watching the Giants perform dinner theater for me, of tracking them surreptitiously by radio devices at work. I am pardoned from trying anxiously to follow the postseason by text at church: "Score?" I'd type from behind the hymn book where the choir sits at Mass. "3-2! Posey just doubled in Pagan," my wife would answer from her seat in a far-off pew.
As much as I enjoyed hanging on every pitch through the crisping fall last year, as the Giants clawed their way to the national title — and two years before that, and two years before that — I needed a break.
The Giants did too, I suspect.
This hot-and-cold pattern has gotten so routine that I've decided the year after a championship is hard on the Giants, and makes me appreciate all the more those teams that win back-to-back titles. Not only have the Giants played longer than all but one other team in their championship seasons, they wear themselves out the following season with pregame ceremonies commemorating their glory.
I don't know how other teams do it — I've heard more than once that the Giants "do it right" — but the Giants' ceremonies are exhausting, to fans and players. They cram festivities too full of pomp and circumstance, and speeches and novel ways to deliver trophies, and orgasmic variations on The Natural's theme song — that the players lose momentum come game time.
Time for the Giants to rest up, take month-long naps, refrain from celebrations. Time for me to be normal again.
No more baseball until April. No more sports, for that matter, certainly not football, which has more and more become a sad microcosm of our American ills — corporate cartels, violence and its encouragement, celebrity worship and soap-operatic bad behavior, reported breathlessly and daily in the media.
No baseball playoffs. I'm not a baseball fan; I'm a Giants fan. I have no interest in other teams.
It's sort of like being facebook®™ friends with people because of one common interest, and then being ushered in pictorially to their children's proms or their parents' birthday barbecues. I wish them well, of course, but I have nothing invested in those events, nor is it my place.
Time for other fans of other teams to enjoy the drama and take up the burden through the long, cooling autumn.
Although I'm glad the New York Yankees are already eliminated, and hope the Los Angeles Dodgers go quickly. It's a Giants thing.
Now I join the masses who wait 'til next year, with the potent stuff of daydreams to get me through winter. Rightfielder and charismatic leader Hunter Pence, benched first with a broken arm and then with muscle strains that kept him out most of the season, will be back. So will sure-hitting second baseman Joe Panik, out the last months of the season with back injury; fans hope, anyway.
Rookie Matt Duffy, who came up from Double-A as a bench player and soon owned third base and made everyone forget about the contributions of Pablo Sandoval, who fled to the (American League East last place) Boston Red Sox, is most likely to raise fans' hopes.
The Giants have late call-up rookie Kelby Tomlinson, a skinny Clark Kent, who took over for Panik at second and might likely get turned into an outfielder because the team will want his bat. Leftfielder and leadoff hitter Nori Aoki and first baseman Brandon Belt, both felled by concussions, will be back, though if I had to bet I'd say Belt will get traded for some pitching.
Catcher Andrew Susac should return too. Boy, the Giants crumbled with a lot of injuries, losing outfielder Gregor Blanco and his good year; centerfielder Angel Pagan, hurt during big chunks of the year; outfielder Juan Perez; and utility infield Ehire (yeah, the broadcasters can't pronounce it, either) Adrianza, who had finally, finally, finally figured out how to hit in the Major Leagues before he went down with a concussion.
Four season-ending concussions. You'd think this was football.
Still, the Giants stayed hopeful right into the last week, losing to the hated Dodgers at home and officially getting eliminated from postseason play. The Giants had to watch the Dodgers use their home turf for celebration.
The Giants finished the season ignobly, taking the last game into the ninth inning with a 3-0 lead before the last-place (by 24 games) Colorado Rockies broke out with seven runs and marred a day already heavy with the retirement of relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt (and yet another ceremony). The Giants also watched veteran starting pitcher Tim Hudson retire, having given him the opportunity to win a World Series ring last year after 17 seasons in the majors.
Someone else will take Hudson and Affeldt's places. Someone good, we hope.
We'll make do with old episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man (just as bad as I remember; worse) and look out the window, until April beckons again.