FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 31, 2012 –
BY DARYL FISHER
Note: This column was written the day after game one of this year’s World Series, when actually winning the World Series still seemed like a long shot to me and many other Northern California baseball fans of the San Francisco Giants. It sure was fun to be wrong!
For those of you who follow professional baseball, you know that the San Francisco Giants have somehow managed to get themselves into this year’s World Series. It was an improbable journey, beginning with winning their own division, something that all the analysts and prognosticators thought would be impossible for them to do, especially after their hated rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, made a blockbuster mid-year trade that brought them some of the best (and most expensive) players in the game. But by using great pitching, solid defense and some timely hitting, the Giants surprisingly ran away with their division and found themselves in the first round of the playoffs, where they immediately dropped the first two games of that five-game series at home to the Cincinnati Reds, who along with the Washington Nationals, were considered the favorites to win the National League pennant.
Then, with their backs to the wall, the Giants traveled to Cincinnati and did the unthinkable by winning all three of those elimination games on the road, which qualified them to meet the high-flying St. Louis Cardinals (who had beaten the Nationals) in the seven-game National League Championship Series.
Like the Cincinnati Reds before them, the Cardinals quickly jumped on the Giants and had them facing another three elimination games, and to the amazement of Giant fans everywhere, their team won all of them, including game seven in a blowout. So, as I write this, the Giants not only find themselves in this year’s World Series, but they have pulled off another minor-miracle by winning the first game of it by the unlikely score of 8-3, a truly remarkable feat since they were facing arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball, Detroit’s Justin Verlander. And that finally brings me to my little story.
When I was about 12 years old, I went to a Pacific Coast League All Star game at old Edmonds Field in downtown Sacramento, the goal being to get some autographs of the players who would soon be stars in the big leagues. More specifically, I went to the game to get the autography of Willie McCovey, who everyone said would be the next great San Francisco Giant, which had been my favorite baseball team since they moved from New York to the City by the Bay. And when I snuck into the clubhouse after the game and somehow got Willie to sign my scorecard for me, I was in heaven! So, from that day on, I have been a loyal and long-suffering Giants fan, and to suddenly see them have a chance to be in the World Series yet again (they won it all in 2010 for the first time in SF team history) was a dream come true.
“Dad,” said my daughter the other day with obvious concern, “I think it’s time for you to do a little clothes shopping. Every time I see you, you’re wearing the same exact outfit.”
“Oh, that’s just because the Giants have been winning all those elimination games lately,” I tried to explain.
“What?” asked my daughter, not having a clue what I was talking about.
“Baseball players – and their fans – are very superstitious,” I said, “and I’m just doing my small part not to jinx anything.”
“By wearing the same clothes every day?”
“More or less.”
“Are you wearing the same underwear, too?” asked my daughter with disgust.
“No, of course not. Just my jeans and sweater.”
“That’s crazy, Dad. You know that, right.”
Anyway, there I was the other night after the Giants had beaten the Cardinals in the seventh and deciding game of the NLCS (and still wearing my lucky outfit) when my youngest son came up to me and proudly announced that he and one of his best friends had decided they wanted to go to game one of the World Series in San Francisco.
“But tickets to that game will cost you a small fortune,” I told him.
“Tell me about it,” said my son, who then told me they had already gone online and bought the tickets.
“So how much were they?” I asked with concern.
“Well, decent seats started at about $750 and went way up from there, but Kevin and I found a couple of tickets way up in the nose bleed section one row from the very top of the stadium on the third base side for $375 each, so we bought them.”
“You got to be kidding me!” I said, shocked that my youngest son, who is on a very tight budget, would pay that kind of money to watch a baseball game. “Look, no one likes the Giants more than I do, but I would never pay that kind of money for a seat up in the sky to watch a baseball game.”
“But Dad, wasn’t it you who told me to always follow my bliss?”
“Well, yes, but….”
“Well, my bliss is currently leading me right to AT&T Park in San Francisco to watch the Giants play the Tigers in game one of the World Series.”
“But by the time you pay for gas, bridge tolls, $50 parking, food at the ballpark and those incredibly over-priced tickets, you’re talking at least $500 each! Plus the Giants are facing Justin Verlander in the first game and they’ll be lucky to get a hit, much less a run that might win the game. That’s probably going to be one of the most boring games in World Series history, especially if you’re a Giants fan.”
“Look, you’re not talking me out of it, Dad. And you’re the one always talking about how we only get this one little `single instant’ here on earth, and when I get to be really old like you, I want to be able to say I saw a San Francisco Giants World Series game!”
So, to make a long story short, not only did my youngest son go to game one of the 2012 World Series, he also got to see the festive Opening Ceremonies (including what was apparently an awesome `fly over’ since from his $375 seat at the very top of the stadium he could almost reach up and touch the jets as they flew by). In addition, he got to witness Barry Zito somehow beat Justin Verlander , which was almost as miraculous as Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval hitting three home runs in his first three World Series at bats, something that had never happened in the whole history of baseball.
“You know,” I said to my son after he had happily returned home from seeing one of the most memorable games in World Series history, “I’m still thinking that you throwing away all that hard-earned money on a baseball game you could have watched for free at home on TV means I didn’t raise you right.”
“Well,” said my son with a big smile, “if you ask me, I think it means you did raise me right!”
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Copyright News-Ledger 2012