Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Still unreal: The Giants win the pennant

There was no way I was going to write on this game last night. As spectacular as every moment of the Game 7 was, it was all a messy hodgepodge by the time I got back to my house, like the infield dirt of AT&T Park or the carpet in the clubhouse following the champagne celebration. There wasn’t one defining moment in that game; instead, being in China Basin was one big party from the 3rd inning on, with all 43,000-plus attendees patiently awaiting the grand finale.

Is there anything more poetic that baseball? The skies opened up in the 9th inning and set up a cinematic finish to a spectacular series. Game 2 provided the underlying story line in Matt Holliday’s slide, so everyone knew what had to be the final out – an infield fly out (Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha, irony) from the antagonist to the hero, effectively ending the Cardinal’s postseason run and sending 3rd and King into hysteria that it hasn’t seen since 2010.

I doubt if there is a place better than San Francisco in October. Aside from the torrential downpour last night (which was glorious, by the way), the weather is usually fantastic. (Thanks to global warming, perhaps) It’s rarely raining in the Bay Area in October, but instead clear with gorgeously colorful sunsets and a nip in the air that reminds you of sitting by a crackling fire or trick-or-treating as a kid. It’s nostalgic, and last night was without a doubt reminiscent of our childhoods and, perhaps more significant, a magical 2010 Fall for folks all over the Bay Area.

The last minute decision to be at the game molested my pockets, but it was so worth it:

- Sometimes god looks out for you, like when you break 17 traffic laws between Marin County and 2nd Street in San Francisco without seeing one cop. I left work about 10 minutes before first pitch and got to the left field bleachers by the bottom of the 2nd inning.

- There aren’t many feelings better than screaming like a mental patient at your car radio, then looking left to see the guy in the car next to you fist pumping in approval. That happened about five times on Van Ness last night.

- 40 dollars to park seven blocks away!?!?!? Whatever, worth it.

- During the regular season, the bleachers are a pretty annoying place to sit, but during the postseason, there isn’t a better place to be. Big shouts to the blackout-drunk guy in front of us with a nonfunctional wrist, smacking my buddy in the face with his rally towel all night long.

- Matt Holliday needs a DNA test, because the left field bleachers are officially his daddy. That was the most relentless heckling I’ve ever been a part of, and the struggle for Holliday was very real.

- Standing out in the bleachers, looking up into the sky and catching raindrops in my mouth made me feel like I was seven again. If I didn’t save my ticket from every sporting event, I would have made last night's into a boat and floated down a gutter for old time's sake.

- God bless the extra sweatshirt I left in my car, or else I may have driven home shirtless. I was soaked through and probably on the verge of catching pneumonia, but I haven’t felt that good in a long, long time.

- Even after an elbow injury ended his season, Brian Wilson has still been fantastic for the Giants. He’s a great presence in the clubhouse and dugout, not to mention he’s good for a .GIF, oh, I don’t know, everytime a camera is nearby.

-That being said, Sergio Romo has fully taken over that role of “the closer that makes everyone in the park go nuts.”

- The pitching staff may not be what it was in 2010 or 2011, but they were absolutely nails when the Giants needed them. It all started with Barry Zito, and it probably will for Game 1 of the World Series too. Imagine that.

- Hugging complete strangers is only acceptable on nights like last night.

And that’s why this city is amazing. No matter how decidedly pro-Cardinals Joe Buck is, even he couldn’t concede in his broadcasts that there is a better setting for postseason baseball than San Francisco. AT&T Park is a sparkling example of how a city and a team can work together to build a magnificent ballpark and rejuvenate an area at the same time. The Giants' fan base is an example of how a city – hell, an entire region – can come together, regardless of their differences, and celebrate a common bond. The team on the field is proof that heart and hard work pay off, though there’s still work to be done. Tomorrow we’ll turn our attention to the Tigers, but today we all wake up, decidedly hoarse, and relish in the magic that is Giants baseball.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Giants playoffs make fans completely lose their minds, create #RallyZito

Okay, so this is why Twitter is so much fun. Anybody checked out Facebook lately? Me neither. It's probably filled with a bunch of political status updates, pictures of puppies lying in beds of flowers and people posting on Lil Wayne's wall urging him to donate money to a charity if the post gets 200,000 likes. Twitter is the place to be right now, especially if you're a Giants fan looking for cheap entertainment while you anxiously prepare for the team's possible elimination. 

I'll be accepting the award for "strangest season in the history of baseball" on Barry Zito's behalf, and the first person I'd like to thank is whoever came up with the idea of #RallyZito avatars last night. I'm sure it started somewhere in that circle of Giants fan tweeps that frequently bitch about anything from Brandon Belt's body language to Hank Schulman's loathing for advanced statistics. Either way, it was brilliant and it caught on like wildfire. I don't check "What's Trending" very often because most of the time it's filled with topics like "Why she ratchet" or "10 reasons why I miss my ex," but the fact that #RallyZito has been trending for over 12 hours shows just how daffy Giants fans have truly gone.

It had to be Zito.

How boring would changing our avatars be if we were depending on Madison Bumgarner to stave off elimination? The only awesome picture of MadBum that exists on the interweb is that one of him holding a penguin and @GiantsNirvana has been rocking that for at least a year, maybe longer. #RallyZito has been made possible by the fact that somehow the guy has had more embarrassing pictures taken of him than any celebrity in recent memory, and ALL of them ended up in the Google image vault. Here are a few of my favorites:

Okay, I just found that last one and I'm not gonna lie, it's the most amazing of them all. If you're looking for added entertainment, go ahead and search #ReplaceSongLyricsWithBarryZito and ReplaceMovieQuotesWithBarryZito on Twitter.

"You had me at 'Zito.'"

Quite frankly, I'm completely sick of writing about Zito. I started off this season comparing him to Alex Smith and basically rode that out for the entirety of his lucky year, where batters constantly made loud contact and somehow hit it right to his defense. Then I covered one of his starts in a press box and he almost pitched a complete game shutout. Now we'll all sit back and watch him attempt to play the stopper in his second straight elimination start in two weeks - a game he'll probably win.

Regardless of how he plays, one thing is for certain: my assertion that San Francisco fans are forgiving creatures has pretty much proven to be true. Is this entire #RallyZito movement coated in sarcasm and the kind of nervous laughter that is usually heard in the 5150 ward? Absolutely. But somehow, someway, we've all learned to love Barry Zito - win, lose, or no decision.