I’ve been waiting two weeks to write this piece. If being completely truthful, I almost wrote it Oct. 10.
I’m starting mid-stream, let me back up a little.
The San Francisco Giants are going to the World Series (I would not have written those words Friday, Oct. 10).
So, here I am again … the ‘mommy’ writing about sports. However, just like the Mustangs and what they bring to this town, so too can professional sports bring to a family. There are only four colors I have ever known when applied to professional sports teams – red and khaki (some say gold) and black and orange.
I’ve shared in past pieces the sound of a San Francisco sporting event playing in the background was a common sound growing up in our family. The ‘quiet’ zone was observed, unless of course the noise was produced as a result of what was happening on the television.
We are a vocal and passionate family. We are not good in ‘social’ settings for all game viewing. Our passion can often be misunderstood. Pacing, standing, face in hands or bowed in prayer all can be confusing fan behavior to the ‘recreational’ viewer. I come from a long and strong line of ‘diehard’ San Francisco fans. It is both a prideful and a faithful club. Through many a bad season, player injury and team slumps we stay committed to our Boys of the Bay.
So on that Friday, Oct. 10 I could hardly contain my excitement and anticipation for what was still to come. Knowing we had two games to play in St. Louis before coming home, however, tempered my excitement. This had little to do with ‘faith’ in a team and much to do with superstition and the power of the ‘jinx.’ If you are a Giants fan, my guess is you understand this.
I can honestly say, we are indeed a special breed of crazy in the way of fans. It’s pretty well understood, to a degree not even I fully fathomed until the middle of last week.
Wednesday (Oct. 15) as we sat in our staff meeting, staffer Rich Paloma shared a cartoon image of a dead Cardinal (bird) with colleague Dennis D. Cruz and I. Cruz and I, both Giants fans, immediately winced a bit. As Paloma chuckled, Cruz stated, “Nope. Too early. We’ve got some games still to play. It’s too early to think like that.”
To a non-fan, I’m sure this was heard as a lack of confidence in a team. As we discussed it later in the newsroom both Cruz and I acknowledged the understanding and humbling effects all Giants fans tend to live with. Experience has taught us. History has made us wiser and in some ways a bit reserved, publicly speaking. We know that July is too early to get excited over a team’s standings. We understand that baseball has a long season, but mostly we ‘Believe.’
To some this is delusional. Some just hate us. It’s easy to do after all. We are not a breed of trash talkers midway through. We enjoy the jabs, after the fact. We tend to revel in results not cocky history. Make no mistake, we could and we have, but that typically comes … After the results support our point.
Case in point, this year marks our third trip to the World Series in five years. This year is yet another year, when many were writing us off in mid-summer. Like most MLB teams, we have faced our fair share of injury, ruts and challenges. That’s how we play best. Just as in 2010 and 2012, the 2014 Giants baseball team is a scrappy bunch of misfits. We do not rely on one player. We have a bullpen full of potential and a mastermind who plays it well.
Four years ago, I started teaching my son about the game of baseball. He’s a swimmer, not a ‘ball’ kid in any way. It was the brilliance of the movie ‘Money Ball,’ that helped me see how I could share this beautiful game with my son the chess player. That’s what baseball is. Just like chess it is slow, strategic and reliant on skill. You can’t get comfortable too soon and every play is critical to the next. Every player is reliant on the other, the true meaning of team.
Sure, some may say the same for football or any other ‘team’ sport but one friend made a good point recently. We were discussing getting eager too soon in the season and he said, “That’s the beauty of baseball. It’s slow. The season is drug out. The true baseball fan has an emotional connection they cannot turn off until the final pitch. And then, well, then … they begin to look to next season.”
My kids get excited when they watch. A lead by 3 early in the game really amps them up and then I speak.
“It’s early,” I constantly remind them. “This is baseball. It just takes one bad pitch and one swing of a bat to change the whole game. We must be patient.”
It’s just like life, that’s what I love and yes, we take it to that level when we watch (during commercial). Yeah, mommy tries to keep it light and add lessons whenever possible. Lessons, I’m always looking for lessons in the most obscure places to help them remember life-changing moments. You just never know when they might appear.
For us, last Thursday night they happened a few times. In the end however it all came down to two moments for our family. The first came when Jeremy Affeldt took to the mound and my son suddenly recognized ‘the guy’ who shook his hand and autographed a baseball. ‘The guy’ who kept the Cardinals from scoring in the ninth inning and then … the swing of a bat. As a mom, it was almost too perfect for all that I’ve been trying to teach them. Just like life, you gotta take risk and sometimes you just gotta swing.
As a fan, I’m pretty sure I blacked out as I saw the connection, heard the sound and knew where it was headed. We won the Pennant. This swing, that swing, the swing of Travis Ishikawa is now yet another lesson for our little family. It is a lesson in perseverance, belief, friendship and taking chances.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.