San Francisco Four Philadelphia Two: Giants Back to World Series

23:31 Sun 24 Oct 2010
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As everyone in San Francisco already knows, the Giants clinched their first World Series berth since 2002 last night, winning another squeaker over the Phillies, three–two. I couldn’t watch most of the game, but saw the last few pitches, huddled with other fans around a dodgy internet stream. The Giants of course made it “interesting”, allowing runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth; closer Brian Wilson went to a full count against Ryan Howard with two outs before making a fantastic final pitch to end it, a slider that just clipped the bottom of the strike zone.

The Giants won three of their four victories by a single run, making for exciting and incredibly tense baseball. The Giants have done just about everything by the skin of their teeth this year: clinching the division on the last day of the season, winning each of their NLDS victories over the Braves by a single run, and then the three one-run games over the Phillies. That might be why I sense more baseball frenzy this year compared to 2002—this seems like a more unlikely run to the World Series than for the 2002 team, although that perception might be due to the 2002 team having had Barry Bonds (and Jeff Kent) on offense. The 2010 Giants are lighter on offensive star power, but their starting pitching is fearsome.

Which it needs to be, given that they’re facing the Texas Rangers and Cliff Lee in the Series. As well as rooting for the Giants, I’m also rooting against the Rangers, and not merely because they beat the Yankees. They’re probably fourth on my strangely-derived list of AL teams to dislike, trailing only the Red Sox (pitied pre-2004, hated since) and perhaps the Angels (2002 World Series; were owned by Disney when I first got back into baseball; horrifically awful name that attempts to grab two cities) and just ahead of Cleveland (terrible name; “The Bug Game”).

I may be more in tune with the city’s baseball fever this time around; in 2002 I’d only lived here a couple of years, and had little investment in the Giants taking their first title since moving West. Now, while I’m still a fan of the Yankees above all others, I identify significantly more as a San Franciscan, and that’s spread to baseball allegiance. Also, I seem to know a lot more people now who are baseball fans.

The atmosphere in San Francisco has definitely been different. As the colder and wetter weather has arrived, more or less on schedule, the city hasn’t been subdued by it. The excitement of the sports fans has quickened the city’s heartbeat, and there’s a manic edge in the air, perturbations emanating from the alternating hope and fear that the 2010 Giants are so adept at generating, now married to the slightly sickly energy of a long-suffering fan base contemplating whether at last redemption is near or merely yet another prelude to heartbreak approaches.

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