THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS. I still find those words hard to believe, but it really did happen. It’s been 20 days and only now am I attempting to write about the experience and what it’s meant to me. It’s somewhat overwhelming to attempt to do this, because of the enormity of it all, but at the parade - the World Series Parade - Mike Krukow uttered these words of wisdom:
“…And everybody here today, you are standing here and you are not standing alone. You are standing with the person that taught you the great story of the San Francisco Giants - whether that be your Dad, or your Mom, a friend, or your sister, or your Grandpa. They taught you right. They taught you that you had to be loyal; you have to love your team. And to a man on this team, this 2010 team, to a man, back in August, they plugged into you, and you fueled and energized this group, all the way until the crazy month of September, and into what was an epic month of October, and what is one glorious day in November.
And you have but one responsibility. You owe it to the person who taught you the good book of the San Francisco Giants. You need to pass this story on. Keep this love alive. And when you tell the story, simply tell ‘em, We’re the Giants. We’re San Francisco. And we’re the World Champions!”
There are 3 people who taught me “the story” - my friend Janice, my cousin Shari (both of whom I went with to NLCS Game 3), and my cousin Jeff. They are Bay Area natives who taught me everything I needed to know about being a Giants fan. A real fan. One that doesn’t just become a fan when it’s trendy, but one who is fan all the time. 365 days a year.
And being able to share this experience with them was special.
World Series Game 1
Shari and I were able to score tickets to Game 1. In my opinion, it was the best game to go to. All the pomp and circumstance.
We left work about 3 hours before game time to take CalTrain to the City. It was great. The train platform was filled with Giants fans.
Some who have been waiting a long time for a championship.
As we got off the train and walked 2 blocks to AT&T Park, you could feel the excitement in the air. Orange and black was everywhere! I’d never seen anything like it before – not even in 2002.
Since we were in the bleachers, we walked the outside perimeter of the ballpark to take in the sights and sounds…
Then entered the park at the 2nd & King gate. Since it was potentially (turns out it was) our last game of the year, we decided to go all out and headed to the Centerfield area, to indulge in the best food in the ballpark – calamari and crab sandwiches. I swear I spent at least $30 just on food that night. The eating area was already crowded, but we found a nice couple to share a table with. When your team is in the World Series, you share the love with everybody!
We made our way to our seats, and as I dreaded, bandwagon fans surrounded us. But I won’t ruin this post by talking about them. You can read about them here. We didn’t let them hamper our experience. And it was one to remember for the ages.
• The Hall of Famers – Monte Irvin, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry and Orlando Cepeda threw out the first pitch (Willie Mays was sick and couldn’t make it).
• John Legend sang the National Anthem. I would have preferred a Bay Area artist sang it, but his rendition was good.
• The flyover. I love flyovers and this one was timed perfectly with the anthem. Plus, after the game, we took photos with the fighter pilots. ☺
• Tony Bennett sang. Twice. After every home win, they play “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Its one of my favorite moments of the game. So to hear him perform it live was just….wow. No words. Then he sang “God Bless America” in the 7th inning. It was the best rendition I’ve heard. It’s probably the only time in my life I’ll ever hear him live in person, and to have it be at the World Series was beyond imaginable.
• Then they played “Don’t Stop Believing”, which has become the playoff anthem, and showed Steve Perry on the big screen, along with a whole bunch of other Bay Area celebs that came home to support the team.
• And the best part of it all? All the runs we kept scoring! I mean, Freddy Sanchez hit 4 doubles – a hitting machine! And Juan Uribe hit a HR! Off the supposedly unbeatable Cliff Lee! Shari and I were going NUTS in the bleachers! We kept hugging each other and screaming in disbelief. It was unreal. Too good to be true.
That night was by far, my most memorable experience at AT&T Park, and in the 10 years of existence, I’ve been to a lot of games, so this says a lot.
With each post-season game, each series that was played, I kept thinking to myself, “So how is this all going to end?”
After being completely traumatized from 2002 (I couldn’t get out of bed the day after Game 7), I refused to let myself truly believe that winning the whole damn thing was even possible. Every hit, every strikeout, every huge play that was made was pure elation, but deep inside me, I had the fear of complete disappointment once again.
But slowly things started happening that made you start to believe that maybe, just maybe, it was our time. Destiny. Or as the KNBR morning show called it, “Particles.” (In reference to a Grateful Dead song.)
Like when the ball Ian Kinsler hit bounced off the center field wall in the deepest part of the ballpark, back into Andres Torres’ hands and saved a home run. That was precisely the moment that I thought, “This is bigger than all of us. This could really happen.”
Then of course, Game 3 happened, the only game we lost. But strangely, I wasn’t completely freaked out by that loss. I mean, I knew we wouldn’t sweep, but it just made the next game all the more important.
Mind you, for each of games following Game 1, I watched with my family. We’d start the game out with a bunch of us in the living room watching. Then by the 5th or 6th inning, we’d notice that Shari, Jeff and I would be the only ones left, because no one could stand to watch the games with us. We’d live and die, screaming with every pitch, every play.
But you know what was amazing? Jeff is amazing. He is SO SMART about baseball. He’d say things right after a play happened. Point things out that we never saw or picked up on. Then 5 seconds later, you’d hear the commentators say the EXACT same thing. And trust me, he’s a million times better than Buck and McCarver.
Game 4 was on Halloween. We were assembled as usual, at Shari’s house for dinner. There were so many darn kids who kept ringing the doorbell that her husband Troy, (a Dodger fan, so he didn’t care about the games) had to sit on the front porch to hand out the candy.
And it’s a good thing because we couldn’t be bothered. Because Madison Baumgarner and Buster Posey happened. A 21-year old pitcher, and a 23-year old catcher completely DOMINATED the Texas Ranger lineup. The lineup had been the most potent offense in baseball all season long. I had known MadBum was good, but I didn’t know how good he was until that game. What was most surprising was the composure between these 2 kids. They way they carried themselves, well; you wouldn’t have known it was Game 4 of the World Series!
As Game 4 ended, in another lopsided win, the 3 of us sat there, looking at each other going, “Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. This is really going to happen.” We were one game away from winning it all. But of course, back in 2002, we had been just a few outs away; so we made each other solemnly swear to do everything exactly the same the next day. Same time, same place, same food, same clothes – nothing changes. And nobody was to talk to the jinx (he knows who he is).
So we did as planned, and assembled again for Game 5. Timmy vs. Cliff Lee - again.
We are huge Timmy fans, partly because he’s part Filipino, like us. How many Filipino’s do you know who are professional athletes in America? Yep, not many. So when one emerges, especially one that is dominates the way Timmy does, its special.
And boy was he ever. I will never forget the look on his face as he struck out batter after batter. He was all business. And we were so elated. He had rough points in the season that made you think that maybe he lost what had made him so special, but he showed up big time. You could see “the look” in his eyes. He turned into Big Time Timmy Jim once again.
That last couples of innings were intense. I was getting pitch-by-pitch text messages from Ron. We were pacing the living room, covering our eyes. As Brian Wilson made the first 2 outs, the anticipation became unbearable. We didn’t even notice that Troy had brought out the camera and began videotaping us.
As Nelson Cruz came up to the plate with 2 outs, we convened into a circle rightinfront of the TV. You couldn’t be any closer to it. Soon he had 2 strikes on him, and when he swung the bat for the strikeout, we screamed, turned to each other in a group hug, jumping up and down, crying tears of joy, high-fiving and hugging each other.
I remember screaming, “The SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS are WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!” I remember grabbing 4-year old Jasmine and telling her to remember this moment, because it was very, very important. I remember Janie calling from LA to scream and cheer with us for a few moments. I remember getting an unbelievable amount of text messages.
And I remembered the words that Brian Sabean had said, “You don’t pick the time, the time picks you.” And this was our time. Fireworks were going off in the neighborhood; cars were honking their horns. The City, the Bay Area, all of Northern California was united in pure happiness. It felt so good.
Then it came to celebrate. We knew it would be nuts trying to get to the City on the morning of the parade, so we decided to spend the night in the City.
It was perfect. We started the season at the Hyatt Scottsdale for Spring Training, and ended it at the Hyatt Embarcadero for the parade. Full circle. Just like the parade route, which was the same one taken by the team when they first moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958. Full circle.
We planned to situate ourselves at City Hall, so we could hear the speeches, and thought that 8 am would be early enough to be there. At 5 am, I got up to use the bathroom and checked my phone. There was a text from Lauren that she had sent at 1:30 am telling me that they were heading to City Hall. I texted her back and told her that we’d be there around 8 am, and she responded by saying that it would be really crowded by then.
So I got Shari up, and we hurried to get ready, checked out of the hotel, and took BART to the Civic Center. There were already a lot of people, so all we focused on was getting as close to the front as possible.
By some miracle, we found Lauren, and she had a blanket laid out. Thank goodness, because we would have been toast if we had to stand the whole time. Actually, we were toast anyway.
In our haste to get there, we failed to stop and get food and drinks. And by 7 am, there were so many people there, that once you were in, there was no way you’d be able to leave and come back. So between Shari and I, we had a chocolate bar and Altoids. And nothing to drink. Oh and did I mention that it happened to be a really hot day. And, everyone around us was smoking pot? By the time the ceremonies actually began (well after the 1 pm scheduled start time), people were testy. I was testy. I just wanted them to get it over with. I was so annoyed that I had to hear Gavin and Arnold speak.
But once the players started speaking it was great. They were great. The way they acknowledged the fan support was endearing, and very much appreciated, because it takes a lot of effort to be a die-hard fan.
As the ceremonies ended, and the crowd dispersed, it was only then that we realized how large the crowd was. We had been in front, and had no idea how far back, or how wide the crowd had extended to. They say it was a million and a half people. I didn’t even know San Francisco could hold that many people. Later we’d learn that there were 2-hour lines just to buy a BART ticket to get into the City. Crazy! But that’s how much the Bay Area loved this team. That’s how much this championship meant to them. And to me. And to hear the players acknowledge that, and say they wanted to do it for us, just made us love them even more.
I love the Giants so much. Its what connects us. We go to Spring Training every year together, we go to games, we talk about the team, the players, the moves, the plays, everything. Even now, in November, Jeff and I have all-day long conversations about the Giants and the moves they need to make. Its what we love.
Having grown up in Hawai’i, I didn’t become a fan until the 90’s, so I have loved hearing Janice, Shari and Jeff’s stories of the growing up Giants’ fans in the 70’s and 80’s. I love hearing about how they’d sneak into Candlestick for games. How they found Darrell Evan' paycheck and gave it back to him. How they'd harass the visiting bullpen.
It’s the history of it all. And I love history. And that’s what’s so great about baseball. It’s been around for over 100 years, there are so many stories that have been told. And so many still to be written, and told. And to be able to have been a part of this part of Giants' history has been so special, something I will remember forever.
There’s not a day gone by, in the past 20 days since this happened, that I don’t think about it. And it still brings tears to my eyes. I can be having a crappy day, and then I look at this:
And it makes me feel better. It really does.
In retrospect, I think I had to have experience the devastating loss in 2002, to fully appreciate the championship in 2010. I loved the way it united the Bay Area, I loved the way it united my friends, and I love that I was able to share this with the people who taught me about the Giants. And like Kruk said, “We’re the Giants, We’re San Francisco. And We’re the World Champions!”
More photos at: