I recently had a debate with a coworker, and I made the point that all it took for two guys to get along was a couple beers, a TV, and a good ball game. Men are inherently social, as long as there are no women around to bring out the Alpha side, and we like to avoid drama. Statements like “so how ’bout that home team?” “I love/hate that guy/bum,” and, the always insightful “at least our offense/defense/pitching isn’t as bad as last year” always make for good conversation. All men are just bros we haven’t met yet.
That said, I’m not sure I’d be too welcome in the ATL right now, just as any southern accents heard in Bay Area this week will inherently be regarded with some suspicion.
But that’s not all. It seems like this year has sparked rivalries that nobody seemed to care about before. I always kind of felt that the Giants hated the Dodgers, naturally, but liked and respected the Padres. While we certainly weren’t rooting for them, they were just another team we had to beat, not the child-eating, line-cutting, non-door-holding scum coming out of Los Angeles.
That’s changed, to say the least. The Padres and, by extension, their fans, have now become our greatest enemy. For most of the year they were everything that we wished we could be but could never quite manage to become; our team had flashes of brilliance, but never enough at the same time to get a string of wins. When our pitchers were lights-out, our hitters could barely remember how to hold a bat. When lightning struck and our hitters poked through a few runs, our pitching somehow evaporated. Torture. They were never good enough to be satisfying, but never bad enough to give up on. Torture.
The Diamondbacks were always something of the ugly duckling, except that they had done in their fourth year of existence what the San Francisco Giants had only dreamed of. The Rockies were always something of an afterthought until they became the scariest team in the league. Bay Area darling Troy Tulowitzki had a September of Biblical proportions, and what had barely been a competitive league become a three-way clash of the titans. Torture.
The Giants needed one win in three to clinch the division, but Giants fans knew how dramatically the offense could be shut down, the anxiety showed up anew. Two tough games later, they finally won. Torture.
But rather than describing a terrible season, “Torture” became a rallying cry for the resiliency of the team and, again, the fan base. You couldn’t write drama like this, and when the Giants did win, there was a new hero every day. Just when you thought that the jealous ex-husband with the wispy mustache was the murderer, you find out it’s the kindly gardener with a bad kidney and an old Dalmatian companion. When Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and Pat Burrell go for what feels like an 0-19, Cody Ross, Mike Fontenot, and the odd Giants pitcher come through with the win.
I love this team. I love this sport. I love that the season is long enough to allow many stories to come and go. We’ve seen heartbreak. We’ve seen redemption. We’ve seen rookies overcoming obstacles, and old washed-up veterans reemerging as MVP candidates. We’ve seen old friends reunited and rising stars come crashing down to reality. And mostly, we’ve seen a lot of really, really good pitching.
If this were fiction, it would be considered cliché and cheesy. Because it’s real, it’s glorious.