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Seasons Together

October 10, 2016

“Little pitchers have big ears,
Don’t stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.”

– John Prine, from Sam Stone

Madison Bumgarner just took the mound out at the yard. Buster Posey’s behind the plate. It’s game three of the Giants’ playoff series with the Cubs. The Giants have their backs to the wall, trailing 0-2; one more loss and they are out, off to do whatever wealthy professional athletes do during the off-season. The smart folks over at FiveThirty-Eight give them just an eight percent chance of going to the next series. While these odds will improve with a win tonight, the Giants will still have their work cut out for them.

Giants fans are concerned. While we’ve seen our team get out of these tight spots before, we may be out of miracles. This time, making the impossible possible may not be possible.

The Cubs have the best record in all of baseball. Their roster is deep, with stars, role players and likely future hall of famers. Injuries don’t seem to slow things down; somebody else just steps in and picks things up. These guys are the team who have the chance to once and for all, revenge the black cat curse and send the goat ghost out to pasture.

With all their talent and skill, they are the team today’s kids can root for. Just like the Cubs teams I lived and died with when I was their age. However, a big difference with this year’s team is the manager. With Joe Maddon, they have somebody who appears to bring out the best in everyone and in the team as a whole. Cubs fans seem to appreciate what they have with Maddon. It takes more than just good ballplayers for a team to reach its potential. When I was a kid, some of the Cubs were the best players in all of baseball, but Leo Durocher couldn’t figure out how to manage them for a full season. Indeed, my childhood dreams for the Cubs were stolen by a team manager who was a sniveling, lying, untrustworthy, ill-mannered, shallow, mean-spirited blowhard and a jerk who cared more about himself than his country team.

The boys were in the palace otherwise known as Wrigley Field when they were babies.

We brought the boys were to the palace otherwise known as Wrigley Field when they were babies.

In the mid-nineties, long before 24/7 Everything You Want and Don’t Want But Nothing You Need TV, my sons started paying attention to baseball. The Cubs were in the morning paper box scores, but weren’t on our TV or radio. The daily broadcasts available to us were the Giants games and the A’s games.  I could have yammered on about the Cubs and the glory of Wrigley Field to these two young children and tried to explain to them that those guys two thousand miles to the east and no other were our team. I could have tried to tell them that the guys just down the road weren’t worth watching. Or we could have piled into the car and get out to the ballpark, where I could teach them about this fascinating game while we cheered for the teams that were on our TV and featured in our sports pages.

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We saw the Giants at least twice that summer long ago.

I chose the latter. And in return, I’ve experienced one of the pleasures of my life. I wouldn’t trade going through the Giants ups and downs with my sons for any number of Cubs World Series pennants if it meant that I was cheering for them on my own.

Seasons come and seasons go. This one is now on the verge of coming to an end. Barring a serious comeback, the Giants will soon be done. It’s all hands on deck for Giants fans tonight. All baseball superstitions have to be in the on position. Pre-game meals and rituals are a must. Bring out favorite baseball gloves, caps and scarves. Dig deep for the heavy artillery with the goats, the black cats, incantations and rosaries. Anything that works for you works for us. The marketing folks have spoken: Together We’re Giant.

And if the Giants pull it off and win the World Series this year, it will be quite an amazing feat. But it’ll be just a pittance compared to the miracle of a life I’ve enjoyed with my sons.

 

 

 

 

 

35 Comments
  1. Great post. It is one of those things that can create a tie that binds across generations. I’m this odd combination of Giants fan, Warriors fan, and Steelers fan. And my two boys have adopted those teams as their own as well. It provides us something.

    I’ll tell you … my oldest son and I are in the midst of a rough patch that has gone on far too long. Your post inspired me to reach out and check in with him — make sure he’s watching the game.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My son now lives in Oakland and here we are in SoCal, but he and his dad have shared the Dodgers since he was a little boy, and even now they bond around the game. A couple of years ago they shared a trip to Chicago for a Dodgers-Cubs game and it’s a highlight memory. My husband texts my cousin, a Giants fan, back and forth during games. They have a friendly rivalry that amuses me. I don’t care about the game that much, but I love what it can do within families. It’s been important in our lives on many occasions. This was a wonderful post, Bruce. It’s so nice to hear about how baseball has been a joy shared with your sons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra, a trip to Wrigley Field will enhance every fan’s joy of the game. I have no doubt that your husband and son remember it fondly.

      Like

  3. I won’t lie … it was late here in Virginia — it already late by the first pitch. But, I did my best. I stayed up as late as I could, but I had to get up early. The Giants were chipping away, but it still wasn’t looking good. Imagine my delight to wake up in the morning and see … that tonight’s game starts at a much more reasonable time for me! Well done, Orange & Black, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, here we are without any black and orange left. Red and blue are now the way to go. Cubs and Indians. What do you say?

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      • Is it ok for me to say “anybody but the Blue Jays” or does that sound xenophobic? I just don’t like teams that insist on throwing their beers at my outfielders (which they’ve done twice now, not that I’m counting). Sorry about the Giants …

        (Really liked this post by the way … baseball is, in so many ways, more than a game. Your post showed why …)

        Like

  4. You and your sons (and the thousands [millions?] of other Giants fans) must be thrilled with last night’s squeak-by win. We in Boston, on the other hand, are mourning the end of the Red Sox season that had such high hopes. But none of the wins/losses matter compared to the joy of sharing the pain and glory of baseball with family.
    Funny story – my son-in-law has Red Sox season’s tickets and out of his three young children, the youngest – 4 years old- has become a huge F.A.N. So they went to games together all summer and early autumn. Hanley Ramirez became my little grandson’s hero. He’s very little and very white, but he’s trying to grow dreadlocks desperately. 🙂

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    • That cute little guy has a lot of Red Sox lore ahead of him. Entire eras his dad and others will tell him about as he is watching still new players and teams. Our parents’ generation would have seen the best – Ted Williams. I learned about them watching Jim Lonborg, George Scott, Carl Yastrzemski and then Carlton Fisk, among others. Let’s hope for lots of fun ahead for the kids.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Not a baseball fan but appreciate how this has created special memories with you and your sons.

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    • Oh yes, baseball fans wax poetic about the game as if everyone should feel the same way they do. That’s not my way. It’s a relaxing diversion that has fascinated me for decades. Hook, line and sinker. That’s about the extent of it.

      Like

  6. Reblogged this on Tombers’s Blog and commented:
    A lovely side trip out of politics…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for taking me out of the muck and mire for a moment…

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    • Mat, once you’re done with your work and your reading lists, enjoy those fall colors back there. ‘Tis the season.

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      • The fall colors are just coming now. It was a dry summer so they are late and a bit muted but I sat for a moment this morning and soaked them in before leaving for school. Buckets of errands to run this afternoon and I will be traveling down roads full of changing leaves…

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  8. There was nothing better than the time I spent at the ballpark with my dad…and later with my son. The sun was always shining, the Frosty Malts always cold and the shared memories forever ingrained.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And in the best ballpark in the country.

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      • I forgot the Ron Santo pizza and my dad making sure my best buds were included. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • We were even there for Ron Santo Day. Someone (Wrigley? General Motors?) bought him a Buick Riviera.

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          • Yup! My Dad really liked that…being a Riv guy and all. 😉 Hey, now that the Cubbies did away with the Giants, will you be wearing that beautiful blue jacket pictured above?

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            • GM should have only made a blue Riviera that year (1970?). No other color would have been the right color. Don’t you agree?

              I’m not sure I like the way you’ve characterized that series end. “Did away with?” To my ears (radio) it was more “that’s the way the ball bounces.”

              I don’t recall pulling for any team that beat the A’s or Giants on the way to the World Series, but this would be the year for that. Yes, I’ll be there. Pack an extra PBJ for me. The first inning beer is on me. You grab the sixth inning coffees and we’ll break out the sandwiches.

              Like

  9. I wouldn’t trade anything for the memories of me and my grandfather going to A’s games during the years of Canseco, Ruben Sierra and Terry Steinbach. Unfortunately he passed in 2000 but I’ve kept the dream alive.

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  10. kdk permalink

    What a great tradition to share with your sons. When they finally study whether baseball fandom is genetic or environmentally influenced, they’ll refer back to this post.

    Every morning that I go onto the City and see the “BelievEven” signs around the AT&T/ CalTrain neighborhood, I am a reminded that it IS a Giants year. But the Cubs are … quite awesome. Then I have the familial issue to contend with of my irrepressible Cardinals sister adopting the Cubs in the postseason. And so far as habits and superstitions go, I’m still trying to work out the whole issue of whether the Giants win when I’m watching? Or if the magic comes when I don’t watch. Because I’m pretty sure that if I could just figure that out, I could single-handedly get us through these playoffs. Go Giants!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. kdk, well, were you watching or not last night? Have you determined the correlation between your participation and the outcomes? You have 24 months to work these things out. An entire city is counting on you to do your part.

    For my part, I’d be happy to shake the even year thing and start a new pattern of odd-numbered years. 2017 can be year one.

    I’d guess that your sister is part of a small minority of fans who can move from the Cardinals to the Cubs. About equal in size to the number of Cubs fans who could cheer for the Cardinals.

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    • kdk permalink

      Definitely watching. Everything seemed to be going as expected, and then … Did I turn away? unwittingly flip to CNN for a minute? In a few seconds of confidence spurred by the lead at the end of the 8th, linger on the news of the day for too long? No, no. I saw the whole painful 9th. But clearly I have some work to do. Perhaps my approach is a bit naive if others are factoring in all manner of apparel, meals, goat masks and more.

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      • I’m questioning my own moves. Was the black Giants cap the wrong choice? Why didn’t I choose the orange Giants cap? I switched when things were falling apart in the ninth, but a little too late it seems. I’ll have to live with that all winter.

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  12. Nice story of baseball and bonding, Bruce… a break from the insanity of today’s political world. Are you allowing yourself to root for your first love, now. 🙂 –Curt

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  13. Aw shucks. Feel bad (sort of) that the Giants did not win for you and your sons. But happy for my Mom, who is The World’s Most Faithful Cub Fan!

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    • You mom has lots of good company. Cubs fans will win or lose these games together.

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      • I must admit that my spectator sport of choice is (um) tennis. But I really got into the swing of things watching baseball with my family. It just may be a new addiction. Roger Federer, watch out!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Aaaannnd, here is the other news item I knew you would blog. I’ve followed the whole series thinking that you would be there each step, and knowing I could count on your thoughtful connections between baseball and life. It is always a pleasure to share your love of the game through your blog. Thanks for this, Bruce.

    Like

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