I'm generally not a huge stick and ball kinda guy. I like some football but I don't live and die by any team. I hate basketball and am totally indifferent to soccer and hockey (World Cup notwithstanding). I don't get mad when my team loses. No sulks or depression or broken televisions. No lost wager money. No money spent glorifying the exploits of spoiled children masquerading as adults. I spend my money and time on different pursuits, those where real experiences can be had. Most involve 2 wheels, 4 legs with fur or things that go bang.
There are always exceptions though and mine is baseball. I love baseball.
Baseball is an American sport. I know there are great leagues (and even better individual players) in South America, Japan, Cuba and Korea among others. But it was born here and is still played at it's highest level in the Land Of The Free. We all played when we were kids, whether hardball or softball, it's all baseball. The DO played Bobby Sox softball and my granddaughter can hit a fastball like nobody's business. I think the boy will be a football player but you can be sure his grandfather will give him plenty of exposure to the Grand Game. His dad and I agreed. He gets football and I get baseball. It's made him an odd blend of Patriots and Giants fan but his sporting card will be well filled, as any boys should.
I grew up playing the game, not usually well but always enthusiastically. I've hit a home run, struck out, scored the winning run and made the last out. I learned sportsmanship, concentration and athletic skills. I exercised my mind as well as my body. I discovered things about myself and the value of teammates and fair play. Win or lose, there's always tomorrow.
We came to California in October, 1981 when the Army looked over my duty requests of Hood, Lewis and Carson and instead hose to send me to Ft. Ord, a place I'd never even heard of. In April of 1982 my unit sponsored a trip to see a Giants home game. It meant a day off so I said heck yeah, sign me up. The Giants played the Braves. Bob Brenly hit a grand slam and the Giants still lost. Candlestick park was cold, windy and decidedly spartan but I had a great time and fell deeply in love with my now beloved Giants. We took The DO and Lu's parents and both our grandchildren to a game. All got their first exposure to The Major League in a Giants ballpark.
I've followed them through the good and bad. Most seasons I was left just hoping they'd beat the Dodgers and stay out of the cellar. I've seen them at their worst. I've seen them at their best. I've seen them lose a heartbreaking World Series when they were 5 outs from a championship. I've seen them knock the hated Dodgers out of the playoffs and miss a chance themselves when they couldn't win the N.L. West with 102 wins. I've seen them lose 100 games.
They're in the National League Championship Series this year after winning the N.L West on the very last day of the season. We tended to watch games this year while occupied doing other things. The name Torture was adopted to describe the G-Men and their long list of heart stopping games. They've been in more one run games than I can count. The closer, Brian Wilson has had Lu and I screaming at the TV. The offense is spotty at best. They're hard to watch without a roll of antacid and a strong drink. Or two.
But the pitching. Man can those boys ever pitch. Starters Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgardner and even Zito at times. Affeldt, Mota, Rodriguez, Romo and a bunch of no names in the pen. They can all throw.
Some late season castoffs in the field for some pop in the lineup. Where would they be without Huff, Ross and Burrell? Torres and Sanchez are starters now. All began the year with other teams. And don't forget the Panda. A probable rookie of the year in catcher Buster Posey. They don't score many runs but tend to produce at exactly the right times.
Tonight they took a 1-0 lead in their best of 7 series against the Phillies, a team that's supposed to be far and away better than the Giants. The score was a typical nail biting 4-3 squeaker that they somehow always seem to win. This is a mentally tough team that knows how to grind and take advantage of their opportunities.
I hate taking a kids game played by adults too seriously but I do love my Giants and watching them win. I just don't know if I can take it any more. These guys are killing me.
Ah, sweet torture, thy name is Giants.
I can't wait til tomorrow.