11.03.2010

Closure

As I sit in my quiet office again after a day spent with (by some estimates) up to 2 MILLION people on the streets of San Francisco in recognition and celebration of the Giants winning the World Series, I'm struck by a great many thoughts.

- I can finally shave again. I am NOT a beard guy!
- The rest of the country doesn't "get" San Francisco or the Giants and that's not only okay, its kind of how I/we like it.
- All the pain and all the suffering since 2002, 1989 and all the other years when we had a helluva team that just couldn't get it done.
- Ashkon. I'd heard him mentioned on KNBR but hadn't had a chance to listen to and enjoy his rewrite of Don't Stop Believing until just the other day. And I've since played it at least two dozen times and maybe more, for myself and for others. I downloaded it and have it loaded on my iPhone, I have it on my MacBook Pro's desktop. It will be rotation for a long time. Listening to it gives me goosebumps!
- The nearly totally united city joyous in celebration, strangers hugging and giving high fives.
- Spontaneous chants of "Let's Go Giants" breaking out on BART and in the streets.
- The smell of fine Northern Californian marijuana wafting freely through the crowd. (How did Prop. 19 fail?)
- Yahoos using the winning of a championship as an excuse to break stuff and riot in SF.
- The lovable assortment of goofballs, misfits, castoffs and freaks that are the Giants. Seriously, these guys have more character in their long hair and fearsome beards than the Dodgers have in their entire baseball system.
- And I keep thinking about my father.
My father passed away in the middle of October of 2002. He wasn't a Giants fan, he had even turned his back on baseball after the 1994-5 strike. But I knew he still read the scores in the sports page (yes, we used to get a newspaper back then) and it was one of those things he and I could always talk about even when we had grown apart in other ways, as sons often do.

My earliest memory of baseball is likely an amalgam of several games over a couple of seasons. But the most vibrant memory I have was of being at Memorial Stadium watching the Orioles in Baltimore with my dad, my brother and my sister when I must have been 7 or 8. These were the Glory Days when the Orioles were THE team.  Jim Palmer was pitching to Rod Carew. How do I know this so clearly? Well, I'd turned around to look at someone or something in the stands and damned if Rod Carew didn't hit a line drive foul ball off the back of my head!

I didn't get that ball either though I did get a sore head. And I'm not sure if the ball hit something else before whacking me, I kind of think it must have because I wasn't knocked out, I didn't even get knocked down. But I sure do clearly remember that lesson, KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE GAME! In fact, I'm sure my father, after making sure I hadn't been turned into a vegetable or had a gnarly concussion, said something very similar to those words to me.

Fast forward to 2002. The Giants are in the World Series against the Angels. The Giants were up three games to two going into Game Six. It just so happened that the wake for my father was on that same day and there was a part of me that felt guilty for thinking about baseball during the commemoration and celebration of my father's pretty extraordinary life. There were no iPhones then, there were no portable Wifi devices to scope out the score during the ceremony which is probably a good thing. But, when the wake had begun and people were coming back to the house to share stories, have some drinks and to say goodbye to a man that had touched them all in various ways, I did pop on the television for a moment just to catch the score.

And I saw Dusty Baker pull Russ Ortiz in the 7th for Felix Rodriguez after two men had gotten on. I distinctly remember screaming in my head that this was a mistake, that Dusty was going directly against his philosophy of sticking with a pitcher just a little bit too long. He was pulling Ortiz too early. And then Scott Spezio hit that three run home run that signaled the momentum shift from Giants to Angels. The Angels won Game Six and walked through a pretty easy Game Seven to steal the World Series.

All of this happened while I was dealing the death of my father and the two became inextricably intertwined in my memory.

Where's Waldo?
What this 2010 World Series win for the Giants has done is provided closure for me. In a semi-convoluted way, this win has allowed me to lay to rest the memory of my father. I hadn't really known that I still needed this closure but this win, this fantastic win by the lovable 2010 Giants was what I really needed to put him to rest in my mind (he'll never be gone from my heart, that's just not possible and I still miss him each and every day).

Thank you to the San Francisco Giants for healing a part of me that I hadn't even been aware was broken. I'll always love and cherish my father's memory but this World Series win has allowed me to close a chapter of my life with a tortured joy instead of the tortured pain of watching Scott Spezio's soaring fly ball just get over the fence in left to start the unraveling of that great 2002 team.

Photo by Andy Reitz.
Today was an homage of sorts to my father's memory. A celebration of my past, a way to share the love of the game with my own sons and to hand down the legacy of tortured love that is San Francisco Giants baseball.

Thank you, Timmy, Brian, Uribe, Edgar, Huff Daddy, Pablo, Cain, Pat and everyone else from Brian Sabean to Bruce Bochy, Kruk and Kuip and Jon Miller and Flem to Murph and Mac on KNBR. Today was a special day for me and for all of us and I really can't begin to thank all of you enough.

And I know that somewhere in the ether, my father is smiling knowing that his son is more at peace now with his own family than ever before.
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