The World Champion San Francisco Giants

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who I'd like to tell is 8 year old me.

8 year old me is lonely and awkward and lives entirely in his head.  He spends hours playing with his baseball cards and spends Saturday mornings at the San Jose public library reading those doublethick compilation books of the Peanuts strips.  Charlie Brown had an inner life; I didn't relate to men of action - to superheroes or cops; Charlie Brown was an observer in his own life as much as a participant.  He was not a winner.  But he was sincere. It made sense to me.

Baseball was good because it was inside my head.  I liked football and basketball.  They were exciting and explosive - but baseball...I could spend an entire day reading box scores, an entire summer reading the Baseball Encyclopedia.  It was infinite - the nifty jargon "what is SLG?  how do you figure out SLG?" the middle names - William Howard Mays.  Stephen Patrick Garvey. Wilver Darnell Stargell. A hundred years of baseball.  A world inside my head.

And I was a San Francisco Giants fan.   My first ever present was a ball signed by the 1970 team, the year I was born there's Gaylord.  And McCovey.  And Jim Ray Hart.  That's my name.  When I was 8, my grandfather took me to Candlestick; and while I can still feel the rush of seeing the green of the grass for the first time my most enduring memory is the middle aged black man in the Cincinnati cap (I say middle aged; he might have been 22) in the concourse shouting out "The Reds are runnin'!" as we looked to find our seats in the top of the first.  It was the moment when I knew the world was real.  In my head, no one ever cheered against the Giants.

I didn't know what it would mean when I was 8.  Didn't understand that baseball breaks your heart.

But I learned.

We lost almost every game I went to.  And when we moved to Ohio in the 80s and went to go see the Giants once a year in Cincinnati - we lost almost every time then too.

In 1986, after the two worst seasons in SFG history, we were in the pennant race into deep September. And were eliminated from contention when Mike Scott no-hit us.  On my birthday.

In 1987 we had a 3-2 NLCS lead.  And lost.

We won the pennant in 1989.  And then came the earthquake and a four game sweep.

The very best Giants team I ever saw was 1993.  We won a hundred three games and had a double digit second half division lead.  And didn't make the playoffs.

I moved back to the Bay Area in 1995 and was able to go to a couple dozen Giants games in '95 and '96.

We lost almost every one of them.

I moved to south Florida in 1997.  We lost two 1 run NLDS games to the Marlins.  I was at both.  If you've never been a fat 27 year old in a Barry Bonds jersey taunted by 40,000 Marlins fans as you exit a stadium in October, there are better experiences.

We were the best team in baseball in 2000.  Lost in the NLDS.

We were up 3 games to 2 in the 2002 World Series.  8 outs away with a 5 run lead.  And lost.

In 2003, we lost 2 more 1 run NLDS games to the Marlins.  I was at both. 

I started blogging regularly in 2006; one of my very first posts began with the following line:

                      I'm a San Francisco Giants fan. We're never going to win the World Series. 

I don't recall specifically when it was that I first learned that Charles Schulz was a Giants fan; that part of what went into Charlie Brown's always getting the football pulled away, or always losing the baseball game, or Linus believing every single October that the Great Pumpkin - an orange fantasy - would choose him as the most sincere boy only to be heartbroken - that part of that was Schulz being a Giants fan.  He knew what I would learn.  That in the end you always lose.  Every time.

I'm 40 now.  More days than not, the experience of being me has felt like it did when I was 8.  When I have to leave my head I am uneasy at best and frightened at worst.  I'm not entirely who I want to be.  But I mean well.  I try hard. 

I don't know that I have room for this in my head right now.  I started crying during the pregame last night - because it was just clear - you know?  They couldn't beat us.  They weren't good enough to beat us.  And I almost didn't want to watch as Renteria hit the home run - because they weren't going to score 4 runs; they weren't going to score 4 runs and that made it real. 

And it's just more than fits right now.  Too much is different in my head than I can do right now.  I can't accommodate both the magic and the loss of this past year at the same time.  And the loss of my dad is bigger than the magic, so there's just no room.  I wish there was room.  I'd like to be happy.  You spend your whole life waiting for the Great Pumpkin, you want to appreciate it when it comes. 

But I can't.  It doesn't fit right now. 

But who would appreciate it is 8 year old me.  Because he's not a loser.  He and Charlie Brown just won the World Series.

The headlines are here.


Anonymous said...

Reading your blog is like looking at the documentary to my life. I too live(d) in my own head.Growing up an "only" child in an adult world I owned everything Charles Shulz wrote because I secretly held a kindredness to Charlie Brown, but you share that with few, if any.Having to force yourself everyday to function in the world outside of your own head is so exhausting. And one day you get oh, so lucky, as to find one person who loves you enough to understand and not feel threatened letting you live in both worlds.... And if you are very, very lucky, even offering to help carry the load on those occassions when it seems too big for you to do alone.

Losing one of your "adults" alters your life forever. Over time you learn to live around it so it does not hurt so much, but it's still like trying to ignore an elephant in the room.
I just wanted you to know I appreciate your insights, they are very close to home. And even though the first part of our lives are scary, sad, lonely places, the older you get, it does get better, you seem to get more comfortable in your own skin and your way of life becomes "okay" to be that way.

Anonymous said...

Damn...I thought I was the only kid who checked out all the big Charlie Brown compilations in my library (I remember when "There Goes The Shutout" was finally available, thinking that Charlie Brown was actually going to pitch a good game somewhere in that book, only to find that it was a facetious reference to a first pitch homer)

I've been through a whole lot of shit that I'm just not comfortable fessing up to, let alone attaching my name to it like you do. There's been a lot of good, amazing, unbelievable stuff too. Sometimes at the same time. Life is kind of like having three televisions turned on at the same time; one with a tragedy, one with a comedy, one with a horror flick, all with the volume maxed out. Sometimes you can focus on one or the other but generally, you take it all at once, and life is like staring at a screen full of static.

But our ultimate reward is eternal quiet; we have forever to experience that. So I just try to appreciate the stupidity of life while I can.

On that note...oooh, elections results are coming in soon!

John said...


Seriously.... You are a great, GREAT writer. You hit me in the heart. and hard. Eloquent, timely, just terrific. I remember being 8 years old, because of the way you wrote about it.


Jim said...

Nice of everyone to say. I appreciate it.

Blog said...

J. K. Rowling was down and out at one point. You got any Harry Potters rolling around in that brain of yours?

Mark said...

Allow me to join the Jividen love-in. This blog is wonderfully written. I've read every Tendown. I'm particularly keen on the more personal blogs as I find them touching and affecting in a way that's extremely unique. I really can't say enough good things about the Blog of Revelation.

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