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The Anti-Blue

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Up goes the ante; up goes my blood pressure [Oct. 24th, 2010|11:59 pm]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |optimisticoptimistic]

If I hadn't watched Game 6 of the NLCS with my own eyes -- every pitch, every out, every extra-base hit and every misplay -- I don't think I'd be able to believe that the Giants are going to the World Series. In fact, I still have trouble believing it, even though all the sports channels and local papers claim it's true. You know that when ESPN deigns to mention a Bay Area team, something big's a-brewing, yet I continue to exist in a state of half-denial. Am I happy about the Giants? Certainly; I'm ecstatic. The team has done more for its fans and its city than any of us could have imagined back in May. They've gone above and beyond, and while I'm getting pretty sick of the "misfits and castoffs" label that the media so affectionately insists on repeating, the mishmash nature of the team definitely adds a new dimension of surprise and delight for what they've accomplished. So why am I still holding my breath?

It's because they're still not done. Yes, winning the National League Championship was a huge milestone, nothing to scoff at. And I don't mean that they're still not done in the sense that "There's still a long road ahead, let's not get ahead of ourselves, the Rangers will be a tough opponent," etc. All that stuff is true, sure. I mean they're still not done in the sense that they haven't won the World Series yet. They are going to, but just not for several more days.

I had a conversation with someone a few weeks ago about the Giants' post-season. He was excited that they had won the division and said that no matter what was about to take place, he would be satisfied with what happened for the team in 2010. He felt that the Giants had already exceeded our expectations and that anything more than making the playoffs was gravy. With this mindset, he took a somewhat relaxed approach toward the Braves series, simply happy that the Giants were still playing a week into October. My approach is very different. Every time the Giants advance to the next tier, I feel even more invested, more anxious and, most significantly, more hopeful. It was an absolute thrill to be at the 162nd game of the season, cheering my lungs out and reveling purely in the moment, in the sheer joy of being NL West Champs. But the next day, I was looking forward to the NLDS, fairly certain that the Giants would win it while already bracing myself for the possibility that they might not. Once that series was over and we set our sights on the Phillies, my nervousness increased tenfold, but so did my optimism. Yeah, maybe the Giants squeaked into the playoffs, aided by unreal pitching and the Padres' 10-game loss streak. But every post-season win feeds my resolve that they belong here. With each step, "could" transforms more incontrovertibly into "should." And I get greedier and greedier.

No fan would ever take anything away from this Giants team. Win or lose, World Series Champions or not, they've been nothing but fun, classy and entertaining as hell. I wouldn't change a single trade or acquisition (except maybe Jose Guillen, man, eff that guy). But here they stand, on the precipice of greatness, about to fight for the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Major League Baseball team. And I can't lie -- I think they'll win it. I also can't pretend that I won't be absolutely devastated if they don't, despite everything they've achieved to this point. But ultimately, I don't think I have to worry about that second scenario. It's enough to make a gal believe in destiny.
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End it [Oct. 23rd, 2010|04:30 pm]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |determineddetermined]

Let's do this.
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Dream team [Oct. 17th, 2010|01:33 am]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |ecstaticecstatic]

Last night, I dreamed that I was Matt Cain's teammate. He started the game, which took place in a small, high-walled park in the midst of a quiet forest. True to form, he was awesome. I entered as a reliever after several innings. Spotted my pitches, got plenty of swinging strikes, and pretty much put the game on ice -- with Matty giving instruction over my shoulder, which was perfectly acceptable in the context of my dream. Before I could record the last few outs, the walls became mirrors, and red cannons rose out of the ground on all sides. As it so happened, our team had been on the run from a murderous rival group who'd finally found us, thanks to a mole who gave away our position. The cannons began firing and my teammates fled in all directions. I panicked momentarily before remembering my ability to fly. Quickly, I grabbed Matt by the arm and rocketed straight into the air. Using a grappling hook (unnecessary, given the gift of flight), I swung from tower to tower with Matt in tow, until I found a spot to land a good distance away from the carnage. We didn't know what became of our teammates, but what mattered most in that situation was that Matt Cain was safe.

Given the events that have transpired since, I think it's pretty clear what that dream portended. Roy Halladay was going to give up four runs. Tim Lincecum was going to battle through without his best stuff. Cody Ross was going to hit two bombs. Pat Burrell was going to mash an RBI double against his former team; Raul Ibañez would miss his chance to prevent it. Classless Phillies fans were going to taunt Lincecum and shower him with catcalls but then, eventually, shut the fuck up. And the Giants, as a team, would prove all the pundits and talking heads wrong with a win that may not totally silence the doubters, but should at least make them think twice before they dismiss the pride of San Francisco.

About a week ago, I had a dream that Matt Cain and I were in high school together. He got upset with me because we had made plans to go out to lunch, but I had brought mine from home instead. "You're gonna have to come with me when I get my lunch," he scolded. Thinking back, that dream was forecasting the 3-1 NLDS win. Obviously.

Oh, Giants. I love you so.
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Hope [Oct. 3rd, 2010|09:19 am]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |hopefulhopeful]

Today I will personally bear witness to either the best or worst game played at AT&T Park in the past seven years. Baseball gods, I beseech ye, shower some luck and happiness on this team and its fans. For what sayeth the good book? "Glory be to the Chosen One, he of the flowing locks who leadeth the league in strikeouts for consecutive seasons; and to his battery mate, he of the boy's face and man's strength, who rightfully taketh up the mantle of the cleanup spot and weareth it well; glory be to the journeyman, he who provideth the spark for his teammates at the top of the order and inspireth us all with his labor, discipline and super-speed; to the broad-shouldered Southerner, who showeth endless grace and poise beyond his young years, and unpredictable life to his fastball; to the hirsute one, he who maketh his opponents to quake in fear at both his 93mph slider and his woolly, wild visage. And glory be to the multitudes who prayeth at the altar of this team and their history, which place lyeth on the shores of the fair McCovey Cove, and from whose bowels the joyous cries of victory will echo forever and after throughout the annals of time." Amen.
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Fantastic voyage [Sep. 11th, 2010|07:49 pm]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |creativecreative]

What a roller coaster this season is so far. (Just because I haven't been posting doesn't mean I haven't been following!) As we launch into the final three weeks of regular play, here's a quick n' dirty timeline to run down some high and low points of the season. With any luck, I will still be writing about the Giants in a month.

April 9: Four straight wins?! At this rate, we'll go undefeated this year! This is math I can easily do.

April 10: Hmm, I guess the Giants are human after all. 161-1 it is.

April 17: I love Tim Lincecum, ad infinitum.

April 21: What an infuriatingly low-scoring series that was. And who the hell is this Matt Latos character?

May 1: Why couldn't I have gotten a picture with Tim Lincecum, whom I love, ad infinitum? Oh wait, Cain got a win. Fine, baseball gods, I am pacified. For now.

May 13: On the losing side of a three-game sweep in which we score a total of four runs and are absolutely hamstrung at the hands of Matt Latos... We must be playing the Padres! (Also of note: Bent on leaving a trail of utter devastation in his wake, Latos decides to cripple dear Dave Flemming's innocent car as well. What kind of monster is that?)

May 16: I wish we could just play the 'Stros all year long.

May 23: "I hate baseball and I hate all of you! I'm never coming back to baseball, never!"

May 28: At this point in the season, my two biggest wishes are that the Giants promote Joe Martinez as the fifth starter and demote Wellemeyer, and that they promote Buster Posey and send down someone, almost anyone -- which proves to be a prescient idea as Posey is called up the next day and immediately establishes himself as a god among men.

June 4: The Pat Burrell Reclamation Project begins, a sub-division of the Posey Era.

June 11: Wellemeyer lands on the DL with what I diagnose as severe, irreparable damage to his pitching muscle. Martinez is recalled, and I do a dance of joy. Meanwhile, Buster is tearing it up.

June 28: Going to weeknight games is a pain. I gotta leave work early, change my clothes, arrive at the park with barely enough time to settle in before the first pitch, and go straight to bed when I get home. The hassle can easily be ameliorated, of course, if the Giants beat the Dodgers, if I don't get stuck behind some Eugenio Velez-looking mofo in a Dodgers cap, and if there isn't an obnoxious bitch a few rows back calling Giants "fuckin' pussies" through seven innings until another woman finally asks her to kindly shut the hell up. Fate is not kind to me on this night.

June 30: NEVER in a million years did I think the Giants would rid themselves of Bengie Molina before his contract was up. Bold move, front office. *golf clap*

July 1: The Giants embark on an 11-game road trip, and Kuiper on KNBR declares that they will return having gone 6-5 -- better yet, 7-4. Murph and Mac can barely suppress their incredulity, and as the team has lost five in a row I silently scold Kuip for drinking so early in the morning. Little do I know.

July 17: Turns out there IS magic inside, it's just that someone forgot to mix it in until July. Tim Lincecum Bobblehead Day is a great success. Torres and Huff are both red-hot, and I can't even imagine a day when Buster will ever stop hitting. Bonus: Even after waiting hours in the sun for a bobblehead (complete with paintbrush-bristle hair), I don't get burned!

July 28: Torres says, "Eff this noise," wins it in extra innings and gives me something to smile about all the way home from work.

July 29: Buster's streak ends, but not before all of baseball gets to see what a stud he is. I want this month to go on forever.

July 31: Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay temporarily turns into a sports bar as several Giants fans cheer and applaud a late-inning comeback over the yucky Dodgers. They do go on to sweep. However, the trade of Joe Martinez to Pittsburgh puts a bit of a damper on the day for me. I still think about it and sigh. I miss that guy.

August 8: Okay, it was a bit out of line for Sanchez to predict that they'll sweep the Padres. But I don't think it's as big a deal as everyone's making it out to be. In fact, I rather welcome this display of bravado from someone normally so stoic. Now go out and back it up! Yeah!

August 13: I spent money to watch Sanchez make a liar of himself, and fools of us all? Dammit.

August 18: August is so much different from July. And by "different," I mean worse.

August 24: Whoa, whoa! Slow down, guys. You've already used up about eight games' worth of runs in this series against the Reds! Can't we just, like, scratch some of them from the record and store them for Cain's next few starts? What if we need these later?

August 25: What could have been The Best Comeback of All Time turns into a 12-inning loss, but for some reason I still want to give them a gold star for effort. The Giants teams of yesteryear would not have fought this hard.

August 30: At least once a year, there is a loss that makes me want to lie down and die. Fine, I'm being dramatic. But I do need to seek a cool, dark, quiet room, close my eyes, and search my mind for a place devoid of all cognizance, a safe haven where the memory of this loss cannot encroach. Ryan Spilborghs provides this loss. I scream at the television, pound my fists on the floor, and then curl up in bed and fall asleep for lack of the will to do anything else.

September 4: I'm in Fenway Park, and it's awesome! Another ballpark checked off my list. Boston loses, and I, wearing a Red Sox cap, pretend to be disappointed. But having already watched the scoreboard and noted that the Padres lost earlier, there's not much to be sad about. With no Giants broadcast in Boston, I miss a hell of a win later that night.

September 5: It's my birthday, the Giants beat the Dodgers and the Padres lose their tenth straight. I couldn't ask for anything more, baseball-wise, but... shouldn't we be in first place by now? I mean, 10 straight losses, holy hell.

September 10: First place is awesome! It's everything I imagined and more! We're in this thing! We believe! Yes we can! Hummm baby! There's so much magic inside that it's now on the outside!

September 11: Booo.

Now that the Giants and their fans have breathed that sweet, sweet first place air, there's no going back. Second place is not a position to be proud of. It is not a spot to put down roots and make a home. Once upon a time, we might have shrugged and said, "I'm just glad we have a winning record this year." That time has passed. There is no honor in settling. We now rage with the bloodlust of an angry peasant mob, suddenly made aware of our rights and our power, storming in to end the Padres' unjust tyranny over NL Westdom. Our torches burn bright and our pitchforks are sharp, gleaming. The Padres see us rollin'; they hatin'. Donning horrendous camo-uniforms, they steel themselves for a battle. Pitchers will duel to exhaustion, and runners will move station-to-station in a flurry of bunts and sac flies. Bloodshed is inevitable; hopefully Scott Hairston loses an eye. But we will not be beaten and from the midst of all the small ball, we will emerge victorious. The Giants have come so far. How can there be any other way?

Oh, yeah, the wild card. I forgot about that. Mm, okay, if the wild card is our ticket to the post-season, yeah. I guess we would accept that. But we'd rather just win the division! You hear that, Padres?! We would rather win the division, if you please!!!
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My dad finally shaved his playoff beard. [May. 23rd, 2010|11:37 pm]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |blahblah]

What a great weekend! The Sharks had their annual post-season choke job, just later than usual so that we could all become fully invested and high on hope, and the Giants got swept by their red-headed step-rival across the bay to complete a 1-6 roadie. Starters got Cained left and right. One-run leads were insurmountable. Yet for the life of me, I could not stop watching. My morbid curiosity led me to follow most games well past their expiration dates. Who needs rotten.com when we've got CSN Bay Area?

Now seems as good a time as any for an Office quote: "It's like squishing a spider under a book. It's gonna be really gross, but I have to look and make sure that it's really dead." Giants baseball!
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Wellemeyer lemons [May. 22nd, 2010|01:34 am]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |aggravatedaggravated]

After last Friday's game I floated home on a cloud and collapsed into bed, exhausted but happy. I was probably tired from engaging in what they call "cheering" and "clapping." I had "smiled" and raised my hands above my head to "rejoice" in what they call "the scoring of runs." It was all very new and exciting, especially in a Wellemeyer start. And as I drifted off to sleep, warmed by the thrill of victory, I wondered whether I could finally learn to like Wellemeyer, now that he had given me the memory of a good game.

I needn't have worried my pretty little head. Much like there is Bad Zito and Good Zito, and Bad Sanchez and his equally-mustachioed-but-somehow-less-sinister counterpart Good Sanchez, there is also Bad Wellemeyer and Good Wellemeyer. Good Zito seems to have killed Bad Zito and found an excellent hiding place for the body (tonight's game notwithstanding), and Good Sanchez rassles Bad Sanchez on a regular basis but wins over half of their matches. Bad Wellemeyer, however, is an unstoppable beast, a Nothing of a man determined to demolish the Giants' Fantasia on the nights he is uncaged. I imagine that Good Wellemeyer can do little to rein Bad Wellemeyer in, because how can one tame a pitch-black void bent on destruction? Bad Zito is 6'4", 215 and Bad Sanchez is 6'2", 190 -- a couple of lightweights compared with this natural disaster, this swirling vortex of carnage transforming the Giants' outlook on the season into a post-apocalyptic hell.

By the way, it's weird how many sets of twins are on the Giants' staff.

This whole road trip has been absolutely wretched to watch, and of course that's not all Wellemeyer's fault. He definitely contributed more than his share, as the 13-1 drubbing at the hands of the D-backs was about as low as low gets, but the pathetic, sputtering offense, an off-night from Timmy and an uncharacteristically high number of walks from all of our starters made Giants baseball into a maddening week-long blur. I'm really starting to worry about our lack of a big bat, and growing desperate for Panda to break out of his slump. It's just not fun right now, and I haven't the patience for bad baseball.

The only upside I can see to this Wellemeyer situation is the possible return of Joey (Joe-Joe Junior Shabadoo), who would at the very least make the dugout a more aesthetically pleasing place, but who might also be a serviceable fifth starter. In the meantime, I've coined the phrase "Wellemeyer lemons" to refer to his starts. I can't tell you how pleased I was when I came up with it this morning. It is, indeed, the best thing to come out of his season so far. Pass it on. Wellemeyer lemons. "It's gonna be a thing!" (Not for long, hopefully.)
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Faith no more [May. 14th, 2010|12:15 am]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |pessimisticpessimistic]

It's it, what is it?

In a word, excruciating. If I recall correctly, baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. This isn't fun. This is masochism.

That's not to say that this team doesn't have its purpose. Of course it does. For example, if I want to enjoy myself, have a good time, and forget about my cares for awhile, I'll balance my checkbook. Maybe assess my finances, research IRAs. Clean out my car. Sit in the garage for awhile with the motor running. But if I'm in the mood to spend three hours being slowly demoralized, losing hope in humanity, letting waves of despair wash over me like an endless ocean of suffering... Why, I'll certainly tune in to some Giants baseball. I can think of no better way to get my fix of misery.

I'm going to tomorrow night's game. The two giveaways are a sake glass and a scarf. (And Wellemeyer's the probable starter, so there'll be plenty of free bases for some lucky Astros as well.) It's all part of a promotion package wherein you cope with the disappointment by getting absolutely plastered, and then hanging yourself. Our lineup may be brain dead, but our marketing execs are geniuses.
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It'll last longer [May. 2nd, 2010|12:43 pm]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |contentcontent]

When the month of April comes to a close, it means On Field Photo Day is not far behind. The first Saturday day in May has become one of those dates we automatically circle on the schedule and then await with a combination of impatience and dread. Sure, the chance to take pictures with your favorite players is exciting -- I'll admit that I've entered into fits of giddy fangirliness at just the sight of certain Giants -- but the necessary sacrifices and inevitable disappointment can overshadow an otherwise gorgeous day.

My experiences with OFPD are well chronicled. Here's an entry from '06, which includes a mention of my inaugural OFPD in '05. My '08 entry details some of the lessons learned from OFPDs past, and last year's entry is laced with the bitterness of a fan who did not get a picture with Tim Lincecum.

So it was last year, and so it was to be again. A man with two Cy Young Awards under his belt is in much too high demand to meet the needs of 3,000 fans vying for his attention. I can hardly blame Timmy. He is a rock star in every sense of the term, but not one who would have chosen this lifestyle if he had his way. Yet he does his damnedest to accommodate all of us, we who strain against the ropes, calling his name, begging for pictures and autographs, asking him to hold our babies or perhaps sire them. He draws from an apparently bottomless well of calm, grace, and poise. I'm always charmed in his presence.

I will say that the one thing Tim Lincecum has not yet mastered is time management. OFPD is always impractically paired with San Francisco Little League Day, and a cordoned-off area exclusively for Little Leaguers and their families was where Tim spent the vast majority of his time. Which made a sea of grade-school boys ecstatic, I'm sure, but left me with a sad.

Due to a misunderstanding, we arrived at the park approximately three and a half hours prior to the game start time -- and not, as per usual, prior to the gates opening for OFPD. Sadly, this relegated us to the very end of the line, in back of the players' parking lot where our OFPD roots began year ago... sans Omar Vizquel in an outrageous purple and orange shirt to amuse us. Realizing that we didn't need folding chairs (and in my case, music or NYT crossword puzzles) to wait a measly 45 minutes, my mom and I made a trek back to the parking lot which involved crossing Lefty O'Doul Bridge seconds before it was raised. By the time we got inside the park, there were no prime spots left open. We stationed ourselves behind a couple of large men and hoped for the best.

Ultimately, I got pictures with Sanchez, Affeldt, Zito and Torres, and have little recollection of the rest. Fucking Eugenio Velez ignored my request for a photo. (That's right, Velez ignored ME! It's supposed to be the other way around, that hack. I hope he enjoys getting sent down again real soon.) There were a few notables missing, like Molina and Renteria. The ones I most looked forward to, Timmy and Sergio Romo, got tied up in with the Little League crowd. It was great watching them on the big screen; Romo in particular is a ham, and he and Tim were -- no other word for it -- pretty adorable fielding questions and conversing with the starstruck children looking up at them. I just wish they would either reduce the number of fans they let in, or make Little League Day a separate event. The kids need and deserve their time with their favorite players, but come on, let us young-at-hearts have our fun too. Guys like Tim are trying to do right by those who look up to them most, but grown-ups who stood in line for hours came early for a reason.

As for the game itself, it was awesome! We took our seats in the View Reserve Box and I said to no one in particular, "What a beautiful day." Not a cloud in the sky, with a slight breeze every now and then to take the edge off an unrelenting sun. The weather alone was propitious. We sipped lemonade and munched on nachos as Matt Cain struggled through the first three innings before settling into a groove and getting through eight scoreless. In between innings, I alternated between trying to take quick cat naps and watching the arms of the woman in front of me turn ever more brilliant shades of red.

The only blight on the afternoon was listening to the dudes behind me, whose baseball knowledge was spotty at best. "What do the backwards K's mean?" one of their female companions asked. "Not sure," they answered. They speculated that it had something to do with the sponsors, or the avoidance of spelling "KKK." "How many players are on the team?" they were asked toward the end of the game. "'Bout 30?" was their guess. They were casual fans who meant well, but man... I hope they did some good Googling when they got home.

So OFPD '10 turned out to be less about the Photo part and more about just being a Fan of what happened On Field. Three bombs and one stud pitcher were all it took to undo the frustration wrought by hundreds of Little Leaguers. As a card-carrying member of the Matt Cain Booster Club, that's fine by me.
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I love Tim Lincecum. [Apr. 18th, 2010|10:04 am]
The Anti-Blue
[Current Mood |giddygiddy]

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This being my first post of the 2010 season, you may be wondering why I didn't choose to write something more substantial... but I think it says quite a lot.
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