Dear 2013 San Francisco Giants,
It’s been a long few weeks since you last took the field, and I hope you have been enjoying your well-deserved time with your families, golfing, fishing, hunting, or whatever it is baseball players do in the off-season. As for me, I’ve been enjoying the MLB postseason. Certainly, there is less stress without you guys in it, but there’s also some emptiness without you guys in it.
I wasn’t sure how you pulled 2012 out and won your second World Series ring in three years. Coming back from a 0-2 deficit in the NLDS, winning six elimination games, and sweeping your World Series opponent in four games are incredible feats that I still can’t wrap my head around. With such greatness comes high expectations. Giants fans entered the 2013 season still coming off the high of another October victory and the hope of another championship-caliber season.
First, there were some alright moments but some shaky moments—notably, sweeps in Milwaukee and San Diego. Then came two horrific blowout losses in Toronto, and then an unbelievable and rare inside-the-park walk-off home run by Angel Pagan in front of a sell-out crowd at home, at AT&T Park. Then we lost him for most of the season, along with Ryan Vogelsong who broke his hand in his best start of the year a few days before.
Yes, there were quite a few injuries. You left and center fielders seemed to change every day. (Is it Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres today? No, I think Kensuke Tanaka and Juan Perez! Wait, Jeff Francoeur still plays baseball?) For an organization that prided itself in pitching, the staff sometimes fell apart and if it wasn’t the starting pitching who messed up, it was the bullpen. Mental errors and bad defense seemingly bled through so many games and proved costly. I often asked myself if you guys were planning on getting clutch hits with runners in scoring position but as I painfully watched and followed day in and day out, you showed me that the answer was often “No.” As you all got no-hit by Homer Bailey in Cincinnati, it was one of those uncommon times I had found myself alone in a hotel bar, utterly bummed and sipping on wine partially because I was disappointed in you (To be fair, work, the BART strike, and a new guy in my life were also to blame). As much as I hoped it would be your wake-up call this year, it wasn’t.
What I had often dismissed as “A funk—everyone goes through it” became a nightmare that wouldn’t end. Losing—sometimes in the most awful and most preventable ways possible—had suddenly become the Giants brand of baseball. Even worse, as you fell, the multimillion-dollar Los Angeles Dodgers had suddenly ascended into NL West royalty. Your wins in the regular season games this year were luxuries. But because I am naturally a pessimist, I took on a “Same shit, different game” mentality and unfortunately expected the worst every time. I don’t know what had happened to that scrappy and strong team that pushed all the way through to a World Series in 2012, but I missed them. I didn’t think you had to win all the time, but I just wanted to see you all go down fighting. I felt like something sucked the life out of you, or that perhaps you were already satisfied with what you already had. There were times I couldn’t stand you, cursed at you in my head, on social media, or at my TV, and even felt like crying over you. We were having quite the one-sided relationship where I loved you much more than you loved me and all your other lovers (AKA your fans).
But I just couldn’t quit you, not after everything else we’ve been through together. As much as it sucked, all of these losses, injuries, and problems were natural parts of baseball. Maybe this season was just the baseball gods’ doing after all of our good fortune last year. Whatever the cause, the loyal Giants fans were humbled. I watched and followed every game even through the hurt, and sometimes, miracles and beautiful moments would happen here and there. Before I left to go to the movies, my brother and my dad both told me that they thought Tim Lincecum would throw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres that night. I thought he would too, but didn’t say it loud because I believe in jinxes. I hated having to follow those last few innings on At-Bat and Twitter but the pure happiness I felt for Timmy was just as real as it would have been had I seen it on TV. I was able to watch the gem Yusmeiro Petit pitched last month though, that almost-perfect game. So painful that he was only so close, but he did pitch his first complete game shutout. That kind of game that keeps you on your toes and breaks your heart and yet still has a happy ending is such a testament to how grand baseball is. It’s part of why I keep watching, because something so incredibly cool as a journeyman pitching a perfect game can happen anytime. You gave Giants fans plenty of other things to be excited about, like Pablo Sandoval‘s three-HR game in San Diego, Hunter Pence hitting five home runs against the Dodgers in one series, and all those walk-off wins.
Like all the other seasons, you continue to bring me, my family, and my friends closer together through outings at the ballpark and the conversation we share about you and the games. In the age of new media, you’ve also introduced me to awesome communities of fellow Giants fans who have also become friends. I’ll particularly hold Game 162 fondly in my heart. My friend Emilbert made “Giant Fans” for me, him, and our friends Emilia and Kelly and we sat at the very front row in the bleachers. A grand slam by the Padres had put you behind some, but you came back, caught up, and walked off, and you looked more like the Giants I know and love. I will also forever cherish being a part of the “goodbye” standing ovation for Barry Zito. I’ll think about this specific game to remind myself of how much I love you and how proud I am to be part of your fanbase.
Although there is some uncertainty about who’s in and who’s out in 2014, I know in my heart that no matter what, you will come back and play hard to regain the glory of being a winning team. Even if it’s not for the result I’m hoping for, I’ll still love you and will always wear my orange and black with pride. I wouldn’t trade anything for being a San Francisco Giants fan.
Thank you for 2013. I’m watching the days dwindle down until Spring Training. Until then, have fun and I’ll see you again next year.
(VIDEO: Readers, to remind yourself that the 2013 SF Giants season didn’t completely suck, check out this awesome montage their productions team put together.)
(PHOTO CREDIT: San Francisco Giants Photos)