A Win for the Giants!

Last night, George and I attended “Social Media” night at AT&T Park and it was fabulous! This year’s giveaway was suggested by the fans on Twitter (like last year), including yours truly, and was inspired by this:
Buster Hugs!My new #BusterHugs t-shirt features the Romo/Buster hug after winning the 2012 World Series. Personally, I would have gone with the 2013 Tim Lincecum no-hitter Buster hug, but really, all Buster hugs are awesome.

Also awesome? THE GIANTS ACTUALLY WON! Tim Lincecum pitched a fantastic game! There was a moment when Timmy loaded the bases in the 4th with no outs. AND HE PITCHED OUT OF IT! That’s when I knew we had a chance to win. Hunter Pence was also amazing, getting hits and making fabulous catches in left field. Too bad Akemi missed it because he was clearly showing off. 🙂 It was my first win of the season (in three games), so I’m happy to finally see them do well when I’m at the stadium. I hope this trend continues, even when I’m not there.

Of course, today I’m home sick and feeling so wretched because I can’t have two good days in a row, now can I? Fingers crossed that I get back to my old self quickly as Mom and Dad are coming to town tomorrow and I’m ready to have fun!

A Trip to Giants FanFest

Though I’ve been a Giants fan since 2005, I’ve never attended FanFest before. My dear friend, Jen, has attended the Chicago White Sox equivalent, SoxFest, since I’ve known her and raved about it every year. I know that Giants FanFest is run differently and this year I finally got up the courage to go. My lovely friend, George, a FanFest veteran, agreed to go with me and be my guide. It was everything and nothing that I wanted it to be, but I had a great day and I know I’ll be more prepared the next time I go.
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This team, you guys! This team!

I’m not a lifelong Giants fan. I grew up outside DC, decades after the Senators and decades before the Nationals. If you wanted to follow baseball, you were an Orioles fan. Cal Ripken Jr was my guy. Every year on Father’s Day, the whole family would caravan up to Baltimore to take in a game. Grandpa would be keeping score and all of us would be eating our body weight in ballpark food. Camden Yards seemed like paradise.

Until I found AT&T Park.

I became a Giants fan on May 5, 2005. My mom came to town for Mother’s Day weekend and I wanted to take her to a Giants game (since they were playing the Nationals). My favorite professor gave me his season tickets in the bleachers and I was hooked! The Giants lost that game, but I couldn’t wait to go back. Luckily, that favorite professor became my advisor, mentor and friend, lending me his tickets many times over the next couple of years. I got see Barry Bonds hit home run #725 from those seats.

The day before I left California, Barry Bonds broke the home run record. As I sat in that hotel room in Berkeley, I cried tears of joy that I was still in the Bay Area when it happened, so I could watch on TV. But there were also tears of sadness that I was going to miss this team SO much while I was gone. Grad school didn’t work out and neither did moving back home with my parents at the age of 28. So, when I got the change to move back to San Francisco, I jumped at it. It was June 2010.

I LOVED the 2010 World Series run. We lost some games, but we felt in it the whole time and the energy was great. We took it to Game Five of the World Series, but the whole time, I just had that Tom Hanks voice in my head – “We’re gonna WIN!” The group of players was fantastic – a cast of characters that embodied San Francisco from Brian Wilson’s beard to Aubrey Huff’s rally thong. Buster Posey was the Rookie of the Year. It was epic, amazing and ridiculous.

Two years later and the Giants are going back to the World Series. We’ve got a new cast of characters – from Happy Flight (Angel Pagan) to Marco Scutaro to Reverend Pence to Baby Giraffe (Brandon Belt) to BCraw (Brandon Crawford). I’ve been on edge for weeks, waiting for the Giants to break my heart.

A coworker gave me two tickets to Game Two of the NLDS. I was in AT&T Park when the Giants lost 9-0 and fell 2 games behind in the series. This team would have to win three games in a row, on the road to stay alive. And then they did. Reverend Pence was born and those Giants, this team, played “for the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back.”

We made it to the NLCS, which we got to start at home. We dropped Game One, but came back to win Game Two. Then we dropped Games Three and Four in St. Louis and I figured, “okay, this is it.” We made it to the NLCS when I never thought we would and the line ends here. But then Zito did something I never saw him do in a Giants uniform. And we brought the team back to San Francisco.

And finally, the team that never seemed to get it together to win at home, took the energy of the 43,000 people in the stadium and the millions in the City and gave us Game Six. I watched the game yesterday from Public House with my friend George, which is just about the best place to watch without actually being in the stadium. The energy was amazing once the game started, chanting and yelling, about to blow the roof off the place when anyone got a hit, a strike, a run, a good catch. We won last night and I started to hope again.

Today was a long day at work and I was torn between watching the game for pleasure and watching the Presidential debate for work. I moved back and forth between the two, getting updates from my dad via text and relaying updates to my favorite professor who now works at the same place I do. That 3rd inning was amazing and Brandon Belt’s solo home run (nearly another splash hit) in the 7th was fantastic. Everyone was playing well, playing hard and continue to play for the team on the front and not that name on the back.

I never get cocky with this team, even up 9-0. But then it started to pour down rain, like it had several times earlier that day and it just felt like a sign. We had three more outs. Lopez got us two and then they brought in Romo, our stripey socks closer. In the best justice we could ever ask for, Matt Holiday popped the final out to Marco Scutaro and the Giants won the Pennant. We’re going to the World Series again for the second time in 3 years, which seems so surreal. The Tigers are coming to our house on Wednesday and if these guys can keep the momentum going, it’s going to be a great series.

This team, you guys! This team!

Run 5K: The Giant Race

Told you I was going to cry when I crossed the finish line!

I did it! I ran my first 5K in 37:26!

Last Sunday, I got up at 6a and got my race gear on: my favorite Addias socks, my favorite black Gap pants, a black Lucy running top with my new Giants tank top and my hot pink Lululemon headband. My mom pinned my race bib on me (which was actually more difficult than I would have thought) while I ate a banana. We left the house by 6:45a to drive across the City to AT&T Park. There was very little traffic to be had until we got close to the stadium. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who had driven down and there was a long line of cars creeping along King St to turn on 3rd towards the parking lot. Despite my earlier anxiety, we managed to get parked and head back to AT&T Park by 7:20a.

Though it would turn out to be a lovely day, weather-wise, San Francisco in the early morning is rarely a warm and sunny affair. My adrenaline was running high, but I couldn’t stop shaking. My dad went back to the car for my jacket, so I could keep warm before the gun went off. I knew that once I got started running, my body would heat up and I’d start sweating, but I had about half an hour before that would happen. I also realized that I hadn’t loaded my carefully selected playlist onto my iPhone before I left the house, so I’d be scrambling for music to run to.

I fought my way through the crowds to find the 10min – 12min corral. There was an obnoxious women leading warmups with music blasting underneath her shouting. I know that warming up is very important before running, but at 7:30 in the morning (on a Sunday), I have very little patience for cheery people. I stretched out on my own on the sidewalk as there was not enough room in the corral for my time. My parents hung out with me until almost race time, which definitely helped the nerves. All around me, people had real race gear, running gear and shirts from previous races. I definitely felt out of my element, but more than anything, I just wanted to RUN!

Despite the advertised time of 8am, the gun did not go off until 8:10a, which was frustrating for everyone. Of course, they had to introduce all the dignitaries and talk about the charity that people raised money for. And then they had a gospel choir sing the National Anthem because apparently, you can’t do anything sporty without reminding everyone that you’re in America. (I kid, I kid, but seriously?) Finally, they removed the barriers and we were able to move closer to the finish line. The gun rang out at 8:10 and we were off! I crossed the start line at 00:40.

At first, it was really difficult to get moving at all due to the large number of people on the road. I also couldn’t get my Week 8 playlist to play in the order I wanted, but didn’t have the time or angle to deal with it properly. But I persevered and soon, I had room to run with tunes in my ears. Not having paid much attention to the landmarks on this route before, from a distance, I thought that Pier 28 was the Ferry Building (meaning I thought I was doing MUCH better than I actually was). As I got into the zone, I didn’t even notice the Ferry building as I ran passed it. I didn’t grab water at the turnaround as I was more concerned with just not stopping in the crush of people going from the road to the sidewalk.

I really started to feel how far I’d gone and how much there was left to go when I passed the Ferry building on the way back. The runners/walkers still heading to the turn around were cheering and high-fiving those of us on our way back, which definitely helped. However, as I passed Pier 28 and rounded the curve, I saw AT&T Park rising up in the distance as a beacon. My feet hurt, I was thirsty and my right calf was tight, but I knew I’d come too far to quit now.

We split from the road to run down the path behind the stadium and got cheers (and mimosa toasts) from the early brunchers at Town’s End. All of the sudden, AT&T Park was the only thing in my view and I was coming to the back gate. I cannot possibly describe the elation and emotion I felt as I crossed into the stadium and onto the field. I ran hard to the finish line, crying on the inside, even if my body couldn’t produce tears. There were people screaming and cheering in the stands and we all briefly appeared on the jumbotron as we finished. I didn’t really hear anything as I crossed under the time clock, just ecstatic that I actually finished. I ran the whole race without stopping.

I grabbed my finishers medal and a bottle of water, pulling my headphones off and my iPhone out of its holder. I was sweating too much to get my water bottle open as I stood in line to get my chip cut off my shoe. I called my parents to find them and enjoyed my time standing in Left Field. About 75% of the reason I wanted to run this race was to get the chance to touch the field and I loved it. My dad took the coveted photo of me with my medal on the field before we headed out to pick up my t-shirt and Matt Cain bobblehead.

Even with all the training and encouragement of my friends and family (which I appreciate SO, SO much!), I wasn’t completely sure I could really do it. But I’ve got the warning track dirt in my shoes to prove it. I ran all 3.1 miles without stopping with a pace of 12:04. I wasn’t the fastest, but I finished! I didn’t get an overwhelming love of running in my gift bag, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I did it!

Giants: Watching Perfection

Running out of K’s

Baseball in June is one of my favorite things, but at the same time, I can usually take it or leave it if I’m not in the stadium. The glow and manic energy from Opening Day has faded and the hunt for the Postseason seems very far away. Unless the Giants are playing exceptionally, I’ll turn on the game when I get home from work or not, depending on what else is going on. This point in the season feels like the long, slow slide to the All-Star break before things start to get nutty again in the play off hunt.

Last night, I got home from running errands and was chatting on the phone to my parents, who had just arrived back home on the East Coast. I was glancing through my Twitter feed and noticed that Matt Cain seemed to be having an exceptional game with strike outs. I flicked on the television at the bottom of the 7th inning (so, yes, I missed Blanco’s catch) and saw that the score was 10-0 Giants. I updated my parents (who tolerate my obsession with the Giants the way good parents do) and then I noticed the 0-0-0 for the Astros as CSN Bay Area headed to commercial break. I quickly got off the phone because I knew I needed to watch the end of this game with my full attention!

The camera kept panning to Matt’s wife who was standing in the stands, trying to keep cool, but failing adorably. My phone started to light up with texts from friends, watching the game and wanting to make sure I was watching too. I felt like we should have been gathered at Civic Center plaza again, but I know that no one wanted to move an inch away from the television screen as Matt quickly put away the batters in the top of the 8th. The bottom of the 8th came and went quickly, no caring about the offense of the Giants one whit. “Just get him back out there,” said the television announcer.

There was no cut to commercial after the bottom of the 8th, just Posey popping out of the dugout, followed by Cain, heading to the mound for the last inning of the game. I was literally on the edge of my couch as each pitch was thrown. One out and I was screaming and clapping in my apartment. Two outs and my eyes started to tear up because he was either going to pitch a perfect game or a perfect game up to the last out and I was going to be crying either way. Last pitch, hit on the ground Arias and hurled back to Brandon Belt. OUT! Perfect fucking game for Matt CAIN!

Twitter erupted and I was giving Matt Cain a solitary standing ovation in my apartment, while tears streamed down my face. This was the 22nd Perfect Game in the history of the Major League Baseball. Think about that. With 30 teams (give or take) each playing 163 games a season since 1876 and this is only the 22nd time it has happened. We’ve had twice as many Presidents as we’ve had Perfect Games (with only 87 extra years for Presidents). Like Brandon Belt, I had a hard time going to sleep last night and this will be a “Where were you?” moment for a very long time!

#PerfectCain celebrates with Buster Posey and Brandon Belt

Edited to add two magnificent .gifs from McCovey Chronicles: