As the final out settled into Pablo Sandoval's glove, as the Giants erupted onto the field in Kansas City, winners of their third World Series Championship in 5 years, my eleven year old son Nate asked me, "Dad, are you crying?"
"No," I replied, only partially fibbing, "but if you ask me that again I won't be able to answer you."
We had just spent the better part of the evening watching one of the most thrilling Game 7's in baseball history—thrilling to us because it involved the Giants, the team my father rooted for, the team I root for, the team my oldest and best friends root for.
My wife sat on one end of the sofa, mildly amused as I paced like a caged cheetah during that ninth inning. She's from Wisconsin, so she watches the Giants mainly because I watch them. She professes to be a fan, but would admit not the kind of lifelong fan that I am.
My son perched on his knees on the other end of the sofa. He's somewhere in between us in his own fandom, heading, it seems, down the road following me, but at a slower pace.
None of us said anything other than, "Yes!" as the outs were recorded, and "Nooooooooooo...." as Alex Gordon ran around the bases while the Giants played soccer in the outfield like some World Cup non-qualifier.
And then Salvador Perez, the only player to score a run off Madison Bumgarner this series, popped it up, and, amid shouts in our family room of "Panda Panda Panda," the Giants won. I finally sat down and covered my face with my hands.
And Nate asked the fateful question and after my initial answer, I expanded upon it.
"Listen, buddy: don't ever let this get old. I know it seems like they win this thing every other year," (which, for him, is pretty close to the truth in his 11 years on this planet).
"It doesn't always happen like this. I waited 40 years to see them finally win one. Your Papa [my father who died in June 2012] saw them win only once. Now they've won 2 more times. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Cherish it. It may be a long time before they win another."
And with that, he nodded solemnly like he had just received some great truth, and headed off to bed with plans to wear the Lincecum jersey his Noni gave him for Christmas 2012.
I pondered this at work all today.
My first game was in 1977 at Candlestick Park against the Pirates. I remember watching Vida Blue pitch in 1978—his jersey said "Vida" on the back instead of his last name. My first doubleheader—remember those?—was the next year, against Montreal—remember them?? The heartbreak of '82, the 100 loss season of 1985...yikes!
Then the re-birth in 1986 led by the kids, Robby Thompson and Will Clark. The crashing defeat in the 1987 NLCS against the Cardinals, where the Giants forgot how to hit in St. Louis and Candy Maldonado lost the ball in the lights. The glory of 1989 and the tragedy of the earthquake.
The almost-move to Tampa Bay in 1992, and the last second save by Peter Magowan. The signing of Barry Bonds and the 103 wins (but no playoffs—-thanks a lot, Rockies. Seriously? 0-12 against the Braves?). The dip in 94-96. The trade of Matt Williams to Cleveland for some guy named Jeff Kent and 3 other no-names. The division championship in 1997 seemingly out of nowhere, followed by one brief shining playoff game before being bounced 3-0 by the World Series-bound Marlins. Losing a play-in game against the Cubs in 1998.
The emotional goodbye to Candlestick and the move to the glorious Pac Bell Park in 2000. Another division championship and a enormous HR by JT Snow in Game 2. (Damn you, Benny Agbayani and the Mets, for beating my guys in 4 that series). The run of 2002, where the Giants beat the Braves, got some revenge on the Cardinals, and led Game 6 in Anaheim 5-0 going into the bottom of the 7th. I was sizing up my own ring finger when Dusty Baker took Russ Ortiz out of the game and then handed him the game ball?!?!?!?!?! That didn't end well. Not well at all.
JT Snow's mad dash for home against the Marlins the next year, only to have the plate blocked by Pudge Rodriguez, who was waiting for him with the ball in glove. And the Marlins again won the World Series.
The maddeningly bland years that followed as Barry Bonds chased the Babe and Hank, and did so with some pharmacological assistance, allegedly.
The arrival from just south of a new manager, Bruce Bochy, and some new young kids.
And then the torture of 2010, a season that ended with the almost-unbelievable ending in Texas of Brian Wilson throwing that strike to Buster Posey that clinched the first World Series Championship for San Francisco.
And to have it happen again, 2 years later, this time in Detroit.
And now, again, 2 years later, another Giants World Series Championship. Again, on the road, this time in Kansas City, this time in Game 7.
They are all special. They are all meaningful. It should never get old.
Watch the fans, the true fans (not those felons and idiots burning up the city and destroying property; they are just thugs in jerseys). It never gets old for them.
Watch the players. It never gets old for them.
I am fortunate. I have been able to see my childhood team win 3 World Series. I told Nate, "You could be a Cubs fan, or an Indians fan. They've waited a long time, too. Their time is coming and then you'll see from a different side just how meaningful it is."
Sports are fickle, just ask any player in any sport. They'll tell you to savor each and every championship because you never know if you'll ever get another chance at winning one.
Fans should do the same.
I hope my son gets to see more, but I know it's not a guarantee.