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It’s True!

The San Francisco Giants are the World Champions
of All Time, Space, and Dimension

by Gregg Pearlman

“You’re glowing!” That’s what a co-worker told me on November 2, 2010, the day after—and I want to spell this out, so as to make it perfectly clear—THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES. For a moment I was mildly concerned that I might be pregnant—me and the wife’d have to have a little chat—but really, I felt aglow. I still feel it, more than a month later.

It’s a relaxed sort of glow, though. When Brian Wilson struck out some Ranger dude to wrap it up—I forget who it was, but really, who cares?—I didn’t leap out of my seat and bang my head against the ceiling. I didn’t go outside and run around naked (for which my neighbors should thank me profusely, possibly on bended knee). I didn’t even whoop. My hands went straight up in the air, signifying a successful field-goal attempt (or an unsuccessful seven-ten split). I’m mildly surprised I didn’t burst into tears at any point. I was just quietly, happily, deliriously stunned. And highly pleased.

That’s how I still feel. I’m having trouble taking it in, perhaps because of the kind of Giants fan I am, the kind most of my friends are: the kind who, at least until November 1, believed that the Giants can never, ever win a World Series, even though we know, rationally, that it could happen. (Even though we know, rationally, that it has happened.) I keep waiting for the championship to be called back for a face-mask penalty or something. Or for not using performance-enhancing drugs. My friend Woody, in fact, suggests that the team might be stripped of the title because of an illegal amount of back hair on my part (and even that is nothing compared to Robin Williams, also a self-professed Giants fan; you’d think that since his profile is even higher than mine, MLB would go after him first). No take-backs have happened yet, though, so I’m starting to think maybe it’s for real, that maybe Our Boys get to keep their rings and that big ol’ trophy.

But I should point out that one of my sources of continuing disbelief is my certainty that the 2010 Giants just weren’t good enough to win even a postseason berth, let alone a World Championship. I’d look at that offense and think: Yeccchhh. I’d gaze reluctantly at Edgar Renteria, who obviously was through; the absurdly slow, skill-diminished Bengie Molina; Michael Sandoval, Pablo’s older yet far less talented brother, who looks a lot like him and apparently replaced him at third base this year. I’d worry about whether Nate Schierholtz or John Bowker should hold down right field, and why I would want it to be either of them. I’d wince upon hearing that Brian Sabean’s gone and picked up some Sabean-style player such as Jose Guillen, as if he’s going to be the solution.

Wilson would enter a game in a save situation, and I’d go into instant dread mode because he always seems to walk a tightrope, and the easier the save situation, the less he seems to concentrate. I wouldn’t trust Jonathan Sanchez to keep it together, or Barry Zito, or Madison Bumgarner. Strange that they’re all lefties, isn’t it? Maybe I’m taken in by the “common wisdom” that left-handed pitchers are all mentally fragile weirdos. Then again, I had trouble trusting Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, too. And probably it’s best not to even bring up the name “Todd Wellemeyer.”

And the main reason I just couldn’t trust these players is that they wore Giants uniforms. I never really thought of the team as cursed, the way Cubs fans seem to (about the Cubs, I mean). Not “cursed.” More like “doomed.” Or “condemned to spend eternity disappointing me.” I couldn’t trust the team because I wanted so badly for them to win.

And now they have. And it’s truly wonderful. We still hear cries about how Barry Bonds’ home runs (and only his, of course) shouldn’t count, that his records should be taken away; but this title can’t be taken away. Oh, baseball could try, if it wanted, but we’d always know the truth, which is this: THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES. In case you missed that last sentence, distracted as you might have been by a paragraph further down that mentions Jessica Alba, I should repeat that THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES. Yes. It really happened.

After Game 5 I was on the phone for two solid hours with friends and family. When I spoke with Steven Rubio, his first words were, “I bet you thought we’d never be having this conversation.” Actually, that notion was so foreign, so, I don’t know, abstract, that the very concept of “us having that conversation” had never crossed my mind.

2010: A Space Oogling

You may remember that in 1984 somebody decided that the time was ripe for a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, so 2010 was born. (Little did Arthur C. Clarke know, when he titled the book on which the film was based, that the 2010 World Series would figure into the story so prominently.) Lots of things happen in the film, but the most important thing is that Jupiter basically turns into a second sun, and now there’s no more darkness. We see people admiring this wonderful phenomenon.

Nowhere do we see folks wondering about how their lives will change forever. We just see them accepting the situation without question. (Granted, they’d have to—what are they gonna do, knock Jupiter out of the sky? Call customer service?) But if it really happened, the human race, already well known for freaking out over solar eclipses once upon a time, would panic. We’ve never, ever had to know what it’s like to be without night. I mean, sure, lots of really, really cold places see nothing but night—or day—for months at a time, but never for years at a time, or millennia. How we would deal with it is outside the range of human thought; we are unprepared for such a thing—who could be prepared? There’s nothing to compare to the situation of two suns and no more night. It just doesn’t fit anything we know about life. Perhaps the closest parallel is the idea of lunar-powered tinfoil giraffe-straighteners oogling by the grootle-bush. “Whats doing WHAT by the WHAT?” Yeah. Exactly.

“My imagination, such as it is, would be perfectly happy with a far less ambitious scenario,” offers Woody, “in which—rather than the entire universe being enormously altered for ever more—that ‘she gets relocated in the sky’ thing that happens in Woody Allen’s Oedipus Wrecks happens to Jessica Alba, nude. Actually, now that I think about it, Jessica Alba being forever naked in the sky would make 24 hour-per-day light awful handy.” (Much as I hate to rain on Woody’s parade, I’m thinking that in 70 years, maybe this would not be such a boon. Besides, once she’s dead, it’d just be grotesque.)

So, now that we’ve gotten past Woody’s weird little segue, you have an idea of how the concept of the San Francisco Giants Winning It All manages to fit into my head: it doesn’t. Oh, rationally I know that it is and always has been possible, and that indeed THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES. My mind still wrestles with THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS OOGLED BY THE GROOTLE-BUSH, but I’m okay with that. Even though, on an emotional level, I still can’t quite fathom the concept that THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES, there’s enough “rational” in me to continue to be superhumanly pleased.

Perhaps, when it comes to the Giants and people with a mindset like mine, it’s all about optimism—a gene neither Woody nor I inherited (assuming either of us had some ancestor to inherit it from). Or maybe, Woody guesses, “It’s a difference in the way we associate it to our lives. Sure, [“normal” Giants fans] love the Giants, and follow the Giants, but each season’s another start, and every new recruit [brings] the promise of hope. [If I were Woody, I’d hate to see all this bracketed text within my quotes.] Sure, these [fans] live with the Giants and follow their ups and downs, but there’s something different going on there—these fans aren’t hooked to the team the same way we are, a way that causes the traumatic response.

“It’s sort of like the difference between being a True Believer—the kind of Catholic who not only goes to mass and [participates in] all the rituals, but truly believes in everything the Church stands for—and the more casual person who goes to church and, yeah, believes in God and all that, but also has no problem sinning like hell just because, hey, that’s modern life, isn’t it? That latter believer will view, say, reports of massive pedophilia within the priesthood with passing horror, then go back to tallying up his stock gains on the day. The True Believer basically sees all his values, everything he’s tied his horse to, not just betray him, but abuse his trust and faith in the worst possible way. And yet, even then the guy can’t just walk away and turn his back because, indeed, he’s put everything into that basket. As horrid and abusive as it is, if you simply walk away from it, you then have nothing at all. So you stay with the bits that you identify as frozen in time and incorruptible as a means of weathering the storms of constant deception and outrage from the rest of it.”

All Aboard the Championship Train! Everybody Welcome, for a Change!

If you’ve read my previous material on the subject, you know that one of my pet peeves has been the fact that until November 1, the San Francisco Giants had been in their current metropolitan area longer than any other team without ever having won a championship. The conditions I place upon that statement render the New York Giants’ titles irrelevant, but while I take a certain amount of pride in those championships (despite having spent only a few days in New York, ever), the New York Giants—though the franchise became the San Francisco Giants—aren’t the San Francisco Giants.

And “any other team” is not limited to baseball. The Giants’ drought exceeded that of any other NFL, NBA, or NHL team, even the New York Rangers. (David Beck tracks this diligently, especially when he otherwise lacks anything to become, correctly, good and annoyed about.) Because of that, I rooted fervently against any team that was about to win its first-ever championship because, especially after the 2002 World Series, it was very important to me that these teams not win it all before the Giants do. And when the frigging Rays went to the Series a couple years back, I just about went out of my gourd, relaxing only when the Phillies wrapped it up. And since the Giants came out west, 10 teams that had been in their current areas for no longer than the Giants won a total of 21 championships (assuming I haven’t miscounted).

I found this hugely frustrating. Geez, hadn’t the Giants paid their dues, for crying out loud? Haven’t their fans? Does it state somewhere in the National League charter that the San Francisco Giants must never, but ever, win a World Championship? Are there codicils, written in the late 1970s, saying that they must never win Cy Young or Rookie of the Year awards, or throw no-hitters? Tim Lincecum’s first Cy Young came in 2008, Mike McCormick’s in 1967; Buster Posey won the Rookie of the Year this year, John Montefusco in 1975; and Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter happened last year, Montefusco’s in 1977. The wait for all those things was absurd.

But in each of the last three years, one of those particular famines ended. The first two initially made me think it was possible that I might actually find a full-time job (though I wasn’t foolish enough to believe in the possibility that such a job would actually pay well or be anything like what I should be doing for a living, whatever that is). And I did gain employment around the time of Sanchez’s feat—which made me wonder if somehow, if, say, God rolled a 1 on all 144 of His Celestial 12-Sided Dice, the Giants might be given a chance to roll all those dice again in hopes of 144 more 1’s, signifying that THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES.

I tended to scotch this thought when it occurred, though, because I knew it just couldn’t happen, even if it could. And now I can tell you that sometimes it’s great to be exactly 180 degrees from correct about something you know.

Have I mentioned that the San Francisco Giants Won the 2010 World Series and thus are the Champions of Major League Baseball?

“Funny, but even 12 hours later, this is entirely failing to suck,” said Woody on November 2. “This may make winter just a tad less shitty than normal. I’m just not hating this, and every time I start to wonder how long it’ll be before I start not caring as much, I make another note to myself to remember that not only did we, finally, win it, but LA didn’t. This just so doesn’t suck.”

“Just think about the magnitudinal magnitude of this,” said David Beck. “Here is a season where for once in the [40 or so years we’ve both been rabid Giants fans], the only time ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever in all that time, there will never never never never never never be a moment when some last Giants out is made and that’s it: season over, and someone else goes on to win things. Every year [during that period] there had been one of those awful wretched awful times [at some point], no matter how expected or how really really awful it was.

“Not this year. It just won’t happen. Ever. Never ever never ever. I mean, is that mind-blowing or what? We’ll wait through the rest of November, [and it still] won’t happen. Into December, still won’t happen. All the way through until the first pitch of next season. It will never ever have to happen. Ever. As strict and as pure an impossibility as there could ever be. That is just insanely wonderful, you know?”

As I said during my wedding (another pretty good day in my life) I do. (Actually, I’m pretty sure we had to say “I will,” but that makes less sense in the context.) It’s all still head-shakingly amazing to me, though, because for a long time, I honestly believed that the San Francisco Giants organization didn’t understand that, through no fault of their own, Giants fans had suffered like those of no other team. I was sure that the organization wasn’t even aware of the team’s futility when compared with all other teams not only in baseball but in those other major sports. I wondered if those at Giants Headquarters had any sense of Giants fans being a laughingstock among baseball fans in general for continually supporting a never-ever-winner. I wondered if those Giants guys had the remotest sense of their fans being a pretty angry, fed-up group of people. (Maybe I’m just projecting my own feelings, but I’ve encountered too many Giants fans not to think I’m right about this.) And, as much love and civic pride I feel for the concept of the San Francisco Giants, I had become disgusted by the decisions made at Giants HQ, and the people making them.

I was convinced that the Giants guys never understood their fans at all, apparently believing them to be knowledge-bereft dilettantes who shrug their shoulders at defeat—“if they don’t win, it’s a shame”—as opposed to those millions of die-hards who’ve been around long enough to watch the team fail, time and time again. Indeed, I have said “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”—knowing full well that, like all other Giants fans, I would take it, and keep taking it, because the Giants, no matter what, are my team, and I’d just have to live with the inevitable, most likely heart-stomping failure.

So I was angry from the moment the postseason started. Granted, the anger ebbed with each victory, and it might actually have disappeared following the Giants’ final 2010 win, but you know, baseball is supposed to be a pastime, a passion, something to be enjoyed inherently; It has become clear to me that “angry from the get-go” is no way to watch baseball.

“I’m just so sure history’s going to repeat itself,” Dave had said before Game 5 of the NLCS. I, meanwhile, had felt as though the Giants had lost already, despite their lead in that series—not unlike late in 1993, when I felt as though the team had lost the division even while still occupying first place. And with the Giants holding a commanding lead during the Series, images of horror-inducing “wrap-ups” flounced through my mind:

  • “So the Rangers win Game 3 here at Arlington, and if they can win tomorrow they’ll be right back in it!”
  • “And the Rangers have become the first World Series team to win even two games after being down three games to none!”
  • “Unbelievably, the Rangers have come all the way back from a two-nothing deficit, and there’ll be a Game 7!”

I made those images go away before mentally writing the next headline, and I’m very thankful that the Giants made this exercise academic. Knock on wood.

A part of me still fears that Baseball’s Powers-That-Be could take this championship away, if only because of Barry Bonds (who still has not been definitively determined to have done anything naughty, baseballwise), and that the Giants would go down in history as the most baseball-ruining team ever, now that nobody cares about the Black Sox anymore and thinks that what they did was bad.

On the whole, though, I’ve found it difficult to adequately express, even to myself, my feelings about the Giants’ chances to win a World Series. Let’s see if the upcoming section does the trick. (Well, let’s just say it does. It’ll be easier that way.)

The Concept of Being a Ballplayer Isn’t Part of Your Thought Process at All

As the type of person likely to read this piece, you know, and have known for many, many years, that you will never play baseball in the major leagues, and you’ve accepted it. You have the occasional dream or brief fantasy about it, but the idea of it not ever happening is just such a given that “it’s never gonna happen” never, ever crosses your mind.

Or… periodically you’ll have that dream or fantasy, knowing perfectly well that it will never, ever happen any more than going back in time and drawing mustaches on all of your great-grandmothers is going to happen. Just no way. Period. And yet there’s still a part of you—call it a wish or a hope, though “hope” almost implies that it could somehow happen if all the planets aligned and we all started bleeding legal tender—that wants, somehow, some way, to be a San Francisco Giant. You know it’s utterly, madly, solidly impossible... but even your rational side says, “Well, maybe the play charts in the Celestial Table-Top Baseball Game say that if God goes and rolls 12’s on all 144 of His Celestial 12-Sided Dice, you actually do get to play for San Francisco Giants, even if all you end up doing is pinch-running for someone at third base with two outs in the last inning, a pitcher batting, and the Giants already being down by 30 or more runs.” I mean, there’s a chance, however absurdly and, well, hopelessly remote. And you know that the chance is zillions of times more remote than even you think it is, and the remoteness of that chance is such that, for all intents and purposes, the chance does in no way exist. “None chance,” as Mike Krukow likes to say. Zero. However zero-y we can make zero be. That’s how much chance there is. And yet….

The first scenario, I’m guessing, is how most people would handle it; the second scenario, I’ve learned, is pretty common among Giants fans (and maybe fans of any given team—I tend not to mix with outsiders)—not in terms of ever playing for their team, but of the team ever winning a World Championship. Rationally you’d know it could happen, but, assuming you’re a Giants fan, you know that no matter how many times they break your heart, and in how many horrifying and life-draining ways, there are new ways yet to be explored, and it’s as though God has to roll all 13’s on those dice for the Giants to actually win it, ever. In other words, no way.

The “knowledge” that it just cannot, will not, must not happen is akin to whistling in the dark, and that we’re all seduced—and betrayed—by the hope. The hope is a perfectly reasonable thing to have—or (as I would have said before November 1, 2010) would be, for people who aren’t Giants fans. We’d be saying “no way” because we feel stupid laying bare that desperate, anguish-induced hope and—ashamed as we may be to admit this even to ourselves—utter need for our team to succeed at the ultimate baseball challenge.

At least that’s what I think is going on. It’s hard to tell, because I’d never be like that.

I would not be surprised to learn that nobody except a Giants fan thinks like this or understands the thought processes. I think even Cubs fans couldn’t possibly get it. Not that I’m proud of getting it.

But right now I’m still basking. And I have decreed that my 2010 San Francisco Giants are the World Champions of All Time, Space, and Dimension. See, in the coming years, many other teams will win a World Series, but that won’t matter because of my decree. Your team might win a World Series, but my team is and will always be the champion. Why wouldn’t I be pleased?

Copyright © 2010 by Gregg Pearlman