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The San Francisco Giants parade and ceremony: Otherworldly

Any mass gathering like the Giants parade on Wednesday is all about size and color, to use John Stewart’s benchmarks.

Color? Orange and black, baby. But really, it was all colors. Is there a more diverse fan base in the universe. I saw blacks,Latinos, Asians, Filipinos, young, old, straight, gay, disabled.  (A Filipino woman in a wheelchair asked me to take a picture of the empty chair Tim Lincecum sat in).

It wasn’t an all-white or all male crowd. It was a living mirror of the Bay Area.

When it comes to size, the parade was Woodstockian. Half-a million strong? It moved and snaked, then settled at the Civic Center where to me it felt like the the Obama Inaugural–but about 60 degrees warmer.

The warmth, the love, the smiles. It was perfect for Giants fans. It was even good if you weren’t a Giants fan. People were just  happy. Work was stopped. Teachers played hooky. Muni was free

But the bottom line, after all these years, there was real joy in Mudville.

That wasn’t the general feeling of the day after a dismal mid-term election when the mandate of 2008 got neutered and the country was sent into a two-year phase of gridlock.

So I was looking forward to the spectacle as anti-dote. Sure enough, Gavin Newsom, who had real reason to celebrate the day after winning the Lt. Gov’s race, had the sense not to gloat and to recognize it was time for the politicians “to step out of the way to restore a sense of pride and joy to the city.” 

So why was Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger there?  He was treated like a Dodger, naturally.And a politician. New governor, Jerry Brown, native son, and another victor from the night before, should have been there.

Then on came the Giants. They just had to walk on and stay awhile to bask in the crowd’s admiration.

Speeches? That’s the politicians’ downfall. Baseball players are not as articulate in front of the mike as you’d hope. They perform at genius level on the field. Far from great wits or raconteurs, they can lead a cheer,however. On this day gargantuan cheers were all that was necessary.

One by one the mike exposed the ordinariness of our champions.  So it was great that the speaking was kept short. Only Brian Wilson and his beard shtick sustained some interest.  Buster Posey was also thoughtful. He wanted to win it all again.

But Aubrey Huff knew what to say and do. He revealed his heralded rally thong.

I have issues about lucky underwear having had a few pair. I did wash mine during the World Series to the chagrin of  superstitious friends . I told them it’s lucky underwear. Not lucky dirt.

I was not close enough to check Huff’s hygiene. But he did produce the thong for all to see, our championship amulet.

When “I left my heart in San Francisco” played, it was all over, just  like it is after a game at the stadium.

People stayed on wanting more. These are tough times,after all.  True joy is in short supply.

But the Giants had left the stage and now it was time for the memories to take over.

An American fairy tale for a struggling country: San Francisco Giants, 2010 World Series Champs

 As a long-suffering fan and San Francisco native, I tried to replicate the team’s joy when the Giants won it all.  I jumped on the person next to me (fortunately, my wife) and then poured champagne (a bottle from BevMo’s .05 sale) on my head.  Wet? No worries. I had that thick orange towel they handed out at World Series Game 1 to soak it all up.

What a season. What a championship. 56 years it took? That’s just about my entire life.

So I’m still in a Giants semi-stupor, though it’s wearing off fast as I turn on the news and get a taste of reality.

Mid-terms, the stuff that counts, the direction of this country.  It’s all bad.

It’s the reason we need the Giants.

I voted last week so I didn’t have to think about real life too much today. I didn’t want a mid-term implosion to get in the way of my Giants’ euphoria.

I know I can’t stay in my Orange haze for too long, but the Giants’ story is just what this country needs. It’s a story of optimism, hope and belief. It’s a story of what happens when we all hope for the same thing and pull together.  In many ways, it’s a perfect fairy tale for a country struggling to stay afloat, socially, economically.

The Giants’ weren’t exactly royalty at the beginning of the year. They had some great young arms, but no supporting staff. No pop, no power. This team wasn’t suppose to play in October, nevermind November.

But there they were, a team put together with a recession budget. GM Brian Sabean was like a guy at the pick and pull, looking for parts to build a champion racer. He had a list and a credit card limit. He had already overpaid badly for Zito and Rowand in previous years. And even Renteria got too much.  So the Giants didn’t have the dough to build a Yankee-like coupe.  Instead, they put together a team that could race to the last day of the regular season and to Game 5 of the Series.  Castoffs? They were all grinders. Every piece was necessary and had a moment to shine at some point in the season.

But no real stars. Why that’s no good for baseball, as one commentator suggested.

The Giants and baseball may have a hard time competing with the violence of football. But they are reflective of a recession-age champion. It’s excellence built-on a budget. A team of hope. A team that the chardonnay sippers could love, along side the blue-collar bleacher bums. I sat with both during the playoffs. 

 First off, there is no team that has as diverse a fan base as the Giants. You look at the crowd and it’s not all of one type.  That’s how you know it’s San Francisco. I sat next to a young Latino teamster from the Mission, a Caucasian  female business owner from Potrero Hill married to an Asian, a white professional couple from the Peninsula.  A Korean immigrant and his born-here son from the East Bay. What kind of entertainment/team attracts that kind of mixed demos?

And after every victory, I must have hi-fived several hundred strangers after every home-run, run scored, or ultimate victory. No Purelle necessary. We were Giants family.

That kind of teamwork on the field, a sense of unity, is what was special about this team and their ballpark. Over 43,000 a night coming together over a victorious championship run is not as trivial as it seems on first blush. 

I admit I felt the same way in the  AT&T  stands as I did when I stood in 15 degree temperatures two years ago in the Washington Mall for the Obama Inaugural. There was a real sense of unity and hopefulness that I  hadn’t seen or felt  in a long time. There was no divisiveness, just talk of working together, of a brand new kind of politics. There were cheers, parades, speeches.

It wasn’t a game nor entertainment. It was for real. Where did it go? 

That’s why I want to hold on to my Giants’ feeling as long as I can. Because after today, I know the real world is not going to feel so great.

Oh, by the way, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” And here’s how they’ll win the 2010 World Series

Giants baseball, torture? 

Torture is more torturuorus remotely, when you can’t see the game live or even on TV. Try getting the info on the web by Smartphone from a not so convenient spot. But there we were at the Millennium Restaurant’s backroom waiting for every download. And when the screen flashed that Howard struck out looking, there was no prompting needed. That was it. The Giants were in. The Giants fans in the room toasted, gave the Russ Hodges’ cheer, then returned to our tempeh.

But when I got home I wore out the DVR. I couldn’t get enough.  As a long-suffering native, I’ve been admiring this team’s four year  evolution from the arrival of Lincecum. It’s always been entertaining, but who wants to be a loveable loser?

 The final pieces didn’t come together until this May. First Posey, then Burrell, then Ross, Ramirez and Lopez. 

And now the team feels like a real team.  A real championship ensemble, a cast of characters with no real superstars like Giants teams of old. There’s no a Mays or a Will the Thrill or a Barry.  The Rangers are that type of team this year with Josh Hamilton. The Giants are crafted differently. It’s like Brian Sabean went down to the “pick and pull” to put together a race car. Hardly, a Ferrari, but when all the cylinders are firing, it’s enough to get to the finish line by a nose.

I predicted the Giants in 6 against the Phils.  This time, I figure the Giants will win the first two at home, with Lincecum and Cain. Cody Ross will again be a key performer, but Posey and Burrell will also liven up. And so will Pablo Sandoval. In Texas, the Rangers will show off their stuff and take two of three, with Lincecum winning game 5. The team returns to SF with a 3-2 series edge. Game 6 will be closed out by Matt Cain,  a nice antitdote to the mid-term election disaster that’s looming. We’ll all need an escape from the impending doom, and the Giants will be there to keep our minds off the heavy matters.  And why not, the history will be thick. The Giants win at home, the first time ever in SF, and the first time since 1954 for the franchise.

That’s the dream.  Believe it.

I’m taking inventory of what I wore on that night  Wilson struck out Howard. Lucky clothing? I think it was my  socks with the border collies on it.

My border collie’s  doesn’t  hit. But boy can he catch a frisbee.  His name? Coincidentally, it’s  just like the NLCS MVP.

Ross.

Update:

Watching different media. Unbelievable how the Giants get no respect for going through Oswalt, Halladay and Hamels.  No love for the Giants from national media. But that’s good. The Giants are the underdog in the Underdog World Series.