Thursday, November 4, 2010

What believing can do...

I stood on the curb at the intersection of Market and 3rd, behind crowd barricades, amongst the faithful waiting for the arrival of the 2010 Giants. To the right of me was a Mother with her children, behind my left shoulder was the mother and granddaughter of a 92 year old Giant fan who could not attend the parade. To my left at my feet was his great grandson. A father stood behind me off my right shoulder with his 4 year old daughter on his shoulders as she held a sign saying "I believe in torture."

Directly in front of me were three other small children sitting on the curb being as patient as children can be waiting. And Kathy my neighbor, stood by my side anxious to take it all in to report to her son (who would be watching from his computer in Arizona." I thought to myself, you could pull out anyone here and they would have their own story of why they needed to be here, today...
Out of nowhere, I said "See what happens when individual people united for a common cause." Smiles and "that's right" rung out in agreement.
This band of hearty Giant fans had arrived from the East Bay, via BART, from Marin via the Ferry, by foot, bus and car. They all came early enough to find a spot where they would be able to see history. Kathy and I arrived around 9am for the scheduled 11am parade. As we waited a group of people gathered in front of the barricade blocking our view.

We yelled, we asked the police for help, we escalated trying to get across to those people breaking the rules that we would not stand for their rudeness. They ignored us. As one of the children who stood in front of us shifted with some discomfort at our heckling, the mother elbowed him and said "don't turn around". A few police actually tried to get them to move back behind the barricade, but they ignored them as well. I yelled "SPITBALL!" Another of us yelled "ENTITLEMENT!" Another "RUDE!" Finally, a group of around 10 police came in a solid line and physically moved them back and put up a barricade. The man behind me said' It's like you said, looks what happens when people unite for a common cause!"

THE 2010 Giants. They have been called many things. Certainly if bets had been made at the beginning of the year the odds were heavy against this team being in the post season let alone the World Series. There are people in San Diego, Colorado, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Arlington who are still shaking their heads. How could this happen? How could this unlikely group of people win it all?
If they had been at that parade they would have caught a drift of why.
The parade route was the same route taken by the 1958 Giants that welcomed the team to SF from the East, as the first team west of the Mississippi. The parade wound its way through the same streets and buildings from which ticker tape rained on the heads of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Davenport and Felipe Alou.

In the 2010 parade some of the most revered giants were Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichel. For the Giants it had been 56 years since the NY Giants won the world series. Since then only a couple of close calls...many broken hearts. There had been records broken. memories made. But the world series had alluded some of the finest players in the game. For them, those players who had come so close, today was sweet. For the fans who cheered them on today was like honey.


Say what you want about San Francisco, it is unique. It honors and respect diversity. It often seems bored with the conventional. This team was replete with characters.

As Aubry Huff passed me in the parade he held high over his head his red thong. The "rally thong". Brian Wilson with his black shoe polished beard and mohawk stood like a military statue at the other side of the trolley car casting a tall and eery shadow.

Timmy Linecum, pot smoking, loose lipped pitcher of enormous talent and a strange grace and simplicity stood with a righteous grin and a Red Bull baseball cap. Girls screamed as Busty Posey came by, honoring him with his name blazoned on their midriffs set high on top of a MUNI bus.

Pablo Sandoval stood with his Mother and held an air horn. Andrez Torres marched with a singular purpose like a conquering hero down the middle of the street. Sergio Romo walked with orange rally towel over head down the center of the street. Leading the cable car that held the singer who made Journey famous, Steve Perry. Following the real thing, was a float that held a singer who had made a name for himself by borrowing "Don't Stop Believing" to make a Giants anthem. Senators, Mayors, owners and managers. Announcers and sponsors and the support people from hot dog vendors to ticket sellers. Diverse yet warm and exciting.


These players were supportive of each other, even if it meant they took a back seat. In a sport where egos often reign, here for the 2010 Giants, often it was a different player who made the play of the game. This was a team where the highest paid player sat on the bench during the playoffs and still managed to be supportive of his team. A team where Cody Ross acquired in August was without a doubt the reason why the Giants were able to capture the National League Championship. Several players were playing inspired ball because they were brought onto a team that believed, they were worth it. A team where a player at the twilight of his career was the MVP of the World Series hitting the winning home run in game 5 of the series. There appear to be no prima donnas, only a team. TEAM where the efforts of each individual unite for a common cause.

If you were around this team in August, September and October you would not be surprised at the look in the eyes of the players and fans on this Wednesday in November.
Belief had been validated.

Mike Kepta/Chronicle

Brian Wilson had had breakfast with Mike Krukow on the morning of the last game. With no hesitation, he looked at Mike and said "today's game has been written." It was a done deal. There was no doubt as to its outcome. This belief...this audacity was a center piece to the success of the Giants this year. But it wasn't always easy to believe. Come behind victory, after come behind victory, one run games, miracle plays all led to the word TORTURE as the definition of the year. But that torture was something we all came to thrive upon because our Giants didn't let us down. They believed they could do the impossible, we saw that they believed and we found out what belief can do. It can turn "torture into rapture."

Smiles in the crowd and a deafening roar continued throughout the entire parade. After the last vehicle passed, and we began to make our way home, we all were touched with the realization we had shared in history. And we all left as champions.

Eric Risberg/ AP

Oh my, what people can do when they believe.