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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Winning Ship

Now that we’ve gotten the Super Bowl out of the way, it’s time for baseball again. Seems hard to believe, as our pitchers, fielders, and one outstanding rookie catcher played all the way through October last year. It’s been the shortest off season I’ve experienced to date, partly because the World Series was held in November, but also because the celebration hasn’t stopped since an estimated hundred thousand people mobbed the heart of San Francisco, effectively stopping traffic not only in the city, but all the way down the peninsula. The number is great, but it in no way reflects the number of people who shared the same joy I did. As time progressed, the bandwagon phenomenon grew exponentially; new fans popped up left and right. But the championship isn’t really for them. The title of World Series Champions belongs to those who have waited fifty-six years for this moment, to those who still attended games after Willie McCovey couldn’t take his team to the World Series. To those who still wear their orange and black when the Giants finish fifth in the NL West. To those who refuse to put an asterisk by Barry Bonds’ name, and who stuck around even after he was no longer jacking home runs into the bay. The fans were rewarded even before November 2nd; the Giants were making magic all season, using each day to carefully piece together a valuable roster up through August, with the final addition of Cody Ross. What was really special was the way that all of these men (many of whom didn’t find great success in their former homes) literally amalgamated to bring forth a club that would rattle even the most established rotations. A self-described group of “misfits”, each man picked up where another left off, striking out all-star hitters and thrashing home runs off number one starters. I’ve been rocking a Giants cap now for twenty years, and it’s incredibly difficult to articulate the kind of love I feel for this team. That being said, I will be the first to admit that I did not anticipate a trip to the World Series. In fact, the day we became champions of the National League West division, visions of the World Series had not even begun stirring through my mind. Beating the Padres after a close season, beating the Dodgers—incredible. It was enough. Or so I thought.
The Giants easily defeated the Braves and Bobby Cox in his last ever managerial season, and we advanced to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Everyone thought the Giants were toast but between Tim Lincecum, Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, and Pat “the Bat” Burrell, we turned it out. The dejection and disappointment on Ryan Howard’s face when Brian Wilson struck him out to win the series will never escape me, and I’d guess the same holds true for many Phillies fans. We were going to the World Series.
At this point, I knew we had a great chance, but pride comes before the fall, so I tried to keep it grounded. None of the sports writers thought we had a chance, they claimed (and many still do) that we rode a hot streak and that the Rangers’ pitching staff was unbeatable. Apparently they all forgot that the Giants had the best pitching staff in the National League, and boy, did we give them hell. It just has to be asserted that winning each series in less than five games is no stroke of luck. Tim Lincecum (who won the Cy Young award for excellence in pitching two years consecutively), dominated Cliff Lee and we took game one 11-7. Though only one game ahead, we’d taken down their biggest weapon and it became clear that they had nothing we couldn’t handle. My number one man Matt Cain took game number two, and with one loss, the series came down to 3 games to 1 with the Giants leading. Now, the World Series is best-of-seven game spectacular, so we only needed one more of three to win ship. Back at square one, we had two pitchers, arguably the best in baseball, face-to-face.

Winning pitcher: T. Lincecum
Losing Pitcher: C. Lee
Save: Brian Wilson
We did it.

Time stood still when Buster Posey (later to be named baseball’s Rookie of the Year) gloved that last swinging strike. There is the most immense pride living inside of me now; pride for my city and for a team who won it the way it should be won: outstanding pitching, exemplary management, and unassailable heart. I firmly believe that nothing will ever match that split second of euphoria; I don’t foresee any possibility of attaining any more happiness than that. Granted, we won’t be World Champions forever, but the feeling will never fade, and I hope that every die-hard fan gets a chance to experience it within his or her lifetime. Except Dodger fans, I could never wish for that.

-Kelsey Laubscher


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great synopsis of feelings. It really captures what it must be like for Giants fans after all these years!

February 13, 2011 at 10:47 PM  

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