I stayed away for almost four months. After the Giants' improbable run I wanted to allow the "Holy Crap!" moment to subside, to allow some time to pass so that I could gain some real perspective on the 2010 season. After all, it's only appropriate that something so monumental be given the opportunity to simmer; the ingredients blending into a fine stew.
Only with proper distance can you look at something unemotionally and then truly evaluate and appreciate what you saw. Once you've allowed yourself to...
THE GIANTS WON IT ALL!!!
Forget perspective. Forget unemotional evaluation. This is the time to bask in the improbable. It's months after the fact and just saying "World Champion San Francisco Giants" leaves my face stretched with a smile that makes The Joker (the Jack Nicholson version) look like he OD’d on thorzine.
As players file into Arizona and the Giants prepare for their first title defense in 56 years (there's that smile again), I'm filled with hope. Still, I find it hard to let go of 2010.
Dusting off the 2010 World Series Blu-Ray for approximately the 143rd viewing, I found myself once again enthralled in the action. How sick is that? I knew who was going to win. Heck, I've got pitch sequences memorized. There's no drama, and yet the hair (what little there is) stands up on the back of my heck when Renteria connects. By the time Brian Wilson sends Nelson Cruz and the Rangers home for the winter, I'm a blubbering idiot again.
Okay, some of my friends will tell you that's a constant state.
Honestly, let 'em bag on me all they want. I have friends who root for the Twins, Yankees, Reds, Angels, Red Sox and yes, even the Hated Dodgers. They all had felt the joy of a World Series win. Finally, I got mine. So pile on the grief. I can take it. In fact, I'm more than willing to sign up for another helping in 2011.
You gotta wonder what kind of sickness causes a man to watch sports highlights on DVD, knowing the outcome yet still gripping like every pitch was life or death. I had struggled to understand it, not realizing that the answer was right in front of me. And then, there it was in a comment from Buster Posey, who admitted that even while the players danced on the mound in celebration "it didn't seem real."
In the case of the Giants, the natural instinct is to start looking for the trap doors and land mines.
I half expected the World Series trophy to be guarded like the golden idol in the opening sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Try to take it, and the cave comes crashing down around you like a 401-K filled with Enron stock. Heck, even at the end of that movie the ultimate prize gets snatched away from our hero (I could have warned him, if only I spoke Hovitos).
But this time the Giants got the prize, the girl, her sister, and the phone number of the hottie next door. It just doesn't get any better than this.
So now we go into uncharted territory: a title defense for the San Francisco Giants. A year ago that phrase would have been cause for psychiatric evaluation. Today, Giants fans can go into the campaign knowing that winning the World Series has gone from pipe dream to possibility.
It's hard to explain why this fan was so emotionally invested in a team, so I won't even try. I do know that this year will still be filled with highs and lows, with excitement and disappointment. Hey, that's baseball.
I also know that the "I just want to see them win once before I die" kind of obsession is gone, replaced with anticipation.
I'll still agonize over every pitch. You don't stop desiring the hot blonde after she finally puts out. You want that experience again. But now it's different. The object of desire is attainable, and somehow more tangible. And in this case, definitely worth a second helping. Heck, I'm now to a point where I don't cringe at the name Barry Zito (although Aaron Rowand still gives me the shakes.)
So one final congratulatory nod to the 2010 San Francisco Giants. May this be only the start of something grand.