In a few short hours, the San Francisco Giants will take the field for their last game of the 2011 season.
It’s always a bittersweet moment for fans, and one that is indelibly marked in my mind from many seasons. One year, when there was endless speculation that the Giants would no longer call San Francisco home, that my father and I stood in Candlestick park long after the game was over, looking over the field and lost in our own separate memories of games played.
Last year was different. Last year the season didn’t end in September. It rolled through October like a juggernaut and the first day of November found me in a sports bar hugging complete strangers and shouting until my throat hurt and my voice broke.
Last year was an amazing thing.
This year, the Giants were plagued with injuries and doubts and struggles. This year, amidst the celebrations, the Giants fought valiantly to retain some spark of the 2010 World Championship season.
I say, as a fourth generation San Francisco Giants fan, it doesn’t matter to me that we are not in the playoffs this year. Two things mattered to me– primarily that the Giants fought. They did not rest on the laurels, they did not take the trophy for granted, but came back in and tried their best to improve their game, even with everyone gunning for them.
The second thing that mattered to me was that they used this new, national awareness to do good things for the community. There were bigger, better fundraisers for The Giants Foundation. There were events to raise money for breast cancer awareness, for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, for MPS IV research, and for Brian Stow, among other people and causes.
And they were the first professional sports team to put together an It Gets Better video.
So, yes, I’m a little sad the Giants aren’t in the playoffs this year.
But, there’s always next year.
138 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.
Photos shamelessly stolen from my sibling’s Facebook page.