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!

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: