Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't Stop Believing

In a perfect world, I would still be a Dodger fan. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up bleeding Dodger Blue. I remember the 1965 World Series when the LA team defeated the Minnesota Twins via Sandy Koufax’s legendary pitching. In grade school, the principal actually cancelled classes and let us watch the televised games (yes, World Series DAY GAMES!) in the school auditorium. That was special.

I died with the Dodgers when they lost the World Series to the Oakland A’s in 1974, and to the Yankees in ’77 and ’78. I reveled in Fernandomania in 1981 and entered Nirvana with the team when they finally beat the hated Yankees in a World Series rematch that year.

And then, something totally unexpected: I moved to San Francisco in 1986. I immediately fell in love with my new City, with its compact coolness, breathtaking vistas and edgy vibe. But I still rooted for the Dodgers, albeit quietly. After all, the Dodgers and the Giants are legendary archrivals. No need to alienate my new San Francisco friends.

In 1987, the Giants won the National League Western Division. This was the scrappy team of Will Clark, Robby Thomson, Mike Krukow, Kevin Mitchell, Jose Uribe and Jeffrey Leonard, with Roger “Humm-Baby” Craig as their manager. All my friends were into this team and I was treated to many games and good times. It was then that I fell in love with the Giants, who would continue their success into the landmark 1989 season, when they won the National League Pennant and went on the World Series. The team’s theme song that year was James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” And so we did!

I was actually in attendance at Candlestick Park when the Giants clinched the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. It was the most exciting baseball game of my life because of the spirit and energy of the fans and the excellence of the team. After reliever Steve Bedrosian got the final out we all went crazy and didn’t want to leave the stadium.

The euphoria in San Francisco was magnified when we realized that the Oakland A’s would be our opponents in the World Series. A Bay Area Fall Classic! But a terrifying 6.9 earthquake took the air out of the Series balloon. The Giants lost to their East Bay rivals in four games. I’ve hated the A’s ever since and have never been to a game there even though, for a few years, I lived just one BART station away from their Coliseum.

The Giants are my team. I’ve lived and died with them for too many years to think otherwise. They represent my coming of age in San Francisco. Even after I moved to Portland, Oregon in the year 2000, I continued to follow the Giants and identify myself as a San Franciscan. When my team finally made it back to the World Series in 2002, I was totally San Franciscan again, much to the annoyance of my Portland friends. Alas, they lost to the Angels. It was enough to give a diehard fan a Cubs complex. But I still believe.

All this is just a way to explain to my Los Angeles friends why I “switched religions” and became a Giants fan. My LA friends have been mystified by my turncoat ways, but they need to understand how much I love the city of San Francisco and how the Giants represent that important time in my life when I lived there. Nothing against the Dodgers, mind you. I still appreciate them and watch their games on TV when they are on. But I am a San Franciscan. ‘Nuff said.

This blog will also hopefully explain why I am beside myself in joy this week at how my Giants are once again in the World Series, this time against the Texas Rangers. Both are underdog teams who played inspiringly against all odds to make it to the top of their respective leagues.

My San Francisco Giants are in the World Series! With Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, Buster Posey and Brian Wilson, they are the most colorful and offbeat team in major league baseball. And this year, they will prevail!

The team song this year is “Don’t Stop Believing.” Amen!

I was there at AT&T Park for Game 3 of the Division Series! A good friend was getting married in San Francisco the next day, so I waited in line on game night for the Giants' generous Free Section in right field. I got in for three innings!