Home > Bucket List, buried life, Life list, ukiah, What I want to do before I die > 2004…The Greatest Year in Baseball??

2004…The Greatest Year in Baseball??

A chronicle of the events that turned the Red Sox from cursed to Champs

Before we get any further I want it known that I am a San Francisco Giants fan. I bleed black and orange from March to October. I have a pretty public feud with a local D&$^%#$ fan. I have taken it as far as kidnapping Tommy Lasorda.

Don’t ask about that last lil part.

This last book that I read was a collection of columns that were published by Bill Simmons on the subject of being a Red Sox fan and dealing with the “curse” and ultimately witnessing that ultimately being vanquished. Since we have hopefully firmly established that I am a Giants fan and my loyalty isn’t in question I will venture and admit that I have been a Boston fan almost as long as I can remember watching baseball. See it all started for me in 1986. An infamous year for the Red Sox. I was a nine year-old little kid that was just really learning what baseball was all about. My entire knowledge base was that the Giants played in San Francisco and was who everybody seemed to like. The players dressed in funny looking clothes and played in these huge stadiums underneath the lights at night. Before that a family friend passed down a pair of Giants pj’s and I thought they were going to have huge monster people on them instead of the ball and 70’s cursive logo.

Then came that series…the first World Series that I ever knew about. I didn’t watch all of it. I didn’t understand most of it. I can’t tell you where I was when the ball dribbled through Buckner’s legs. I was probably running around playing while all the adults were together watching the game. What I remember is the reaction from everyone. That series affected everyone. That is when I first understood that baseball was more than a game. It is a religion. It requires faith, worship, following, forgiveness and love. There are cathedrals erected to it’s power. People give up their hard earned money in order to be a part of it. I started learning all of these parts of the game during that series. It is also the reason that I love an underdog story. Let’s face it…the Mets coming back in that series was unbelievable.

Another reason that everyone in the small town that I live in cared so much about that series was a local boy was a member of the Mets in 1985 playing second base.

Over the next decade I learned, played and fell in love with the game. The Giants had some great teams and players in this time, but never enough. The ’89 Series broke my heart and stole my baseball innocence. The game wasn’t always fun, it could turn on you and cut you right to your heart. The Red Sox didn’t fare so well in this time, but I was exposed to the curse, the rivalry with the Yankees and my fascination with the city of Boston began. (I am a Boston sports fan. Not just the Sox, but the Celtics, Bruins and Patriots. I will admit that I grew into a Patriots fan with the ascent of Brady, but he reminds me of my childhood years with Montana.) It is a city that was proud even though they suffered for most of my life with disappointment (apart from the ’86 Celtics). It was a city of underdogs.

This book brought back a lot of memories and a ton of emotions from the years just before and finally the championship season. Simmons would reference games that I can remember exactly where I was and how I reacted. I was in my studio apartment watching the game by myself in ’03 when Boone hit the home run in extra innings to take game 7 for the Yankees. It is the single worst baseball defeat that didn’t involve the Giants! I was convinced that was the year for the Red Sox and watching that ball crest into the stands broke my heart, just like in ’89. But it also brought back memories that were great. How my pal Skip wouldn’t touch his Red Sox hat once they started winning because all the games he wore it for during the playoffs they lost. They won the last eight with his hat dangling on his living room hat rack. We had to explain to our wives why they couldn’t move it or let it come off that hook…the magic may be broken. (For the record Skip is also a Giants fan by blood, and would kill me if I lead anyone to believe otherwise.)

It was great reliving that time through Simmons stories, and I like that he wrote as a fan. It struck a chord with me and I began to think of him as one of my boys that I was b.s.ing with rather than reading some book. I had fun with this one.

It also brought a disturbing thought to my attention. I have always, always…ALWAYS assumed that the Giants are going to get it together and win a World Series in my lifetime. They are currently in the third longest drought in the MLB. They are well on their way to being the new Red Sox. It could become a concern that I would ever get to see my team celebrate a World Series Championship, I mean it hasn’t ever happened in my lifetime. I have had my heart crushed twice. The second time in pre’04 Sox fashion. For the first time in my life I am scared that the Giants might not ever pull this off. It seems like we never have had the pitching to come through in the clutch, now that we have lights out pitching our bats are soft. Just as the Red Sox fans used to say, “I just want to see them win it all once.”

This line of thought has brought a most disturbing decision into my life. Do I raise my son to be a Giants fan? Do I expose him to all the heartbreak, sorrow, misery and loss that I’ve gone through in my life to this point? The other half of that equation is all the elation, celebrations and camaraderie that goes along with being a fan of any sports team. A few highlights from my Giants history are growing up with players such as Robby Thompson, Will Clark, Matt Williams, Candy Maldonado, Chili Davis (Why did the Giants love guys named after foods??), Jeffrey Leonard, Jose Uribe, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, Rich Aurilia, Benito Santiago (Dani’s favorite player) and J.T. Snow. The 1989 season which was my first year following for an entire season which included the Cubs NLCS (which the Giants won on the day that my grandfather passed and looking back helped me cope) and my first World Series. The 1993 season in which the Braves miraculously cameback and won the division in the last real pennant race. 1994…I don’t want to talk about it. Brian Johnson’s 1997 home run to spark the run to the division. The one game win and in loss to the Cubs in 1998. Barry’s single season homerun record. 2002 World Series team losing just like the Red Sox would have. Taking the division wire to wire in 2003 with Felipe “The Turtle” Alou. Steve Finley’s grand slam that gave the D*$%&@# the division in ’04. Barry Bonds pursuit of the all time homerun crown in ’07. Finally Timmy Lincecum winning back to back Cy Young’s (Dani and I were in AT&T for Timmy’s first game. Everyone there will tell you they knew he was going to be something special. Strutting out there and hitting 103 mph.)

Then there is the rivalry! Of course there is the oldest and best rivalry in baseball Giants vs. D*@#$@%. That’s right the best rivalry in baseball! Hands down. For the entire history of the game these two have gone after each other…even so far as the D&#$%@# following the Giants out to the West Coast. I believe that we are the best for one simple reason…you never know how it’s going to end. It is the most competitive rivalry in sports. It has gone back and forth more times than anyone can ever recall. They have crushed each others season’s, leap frogged over each other and fought more than any other two teams in sports. Prior to ’04 you always knew how the Red Sox/Yankees was going to end. That’s not a rivalry…it’s ownage!! Yankees fans claim that they don’t really care too much about Red Sox fans. That’s too one sided for a good rivalry. Any Giants/D*%$@#^ fan will tell you it turns their stomach when they see the other teams colors. I love Fox Sports Net Bay Area for the simple fact that they blur out the L.A. banner while promoting the upcoming series. That’s a channel that understands their fan base.

As you can see it’s been a roller coaster ride very similar to any that the Red Sox Nation has gone through…without as much belly aching or attention. Does Robby need to go through this? Absolutely!! I hope I get to cheer, jump up and down, cry, cuss and experience all of this together. I hope that we are making phone calls to each other when he grows up and moves out. I hope that we have the type of relationship that he thinks of me while watching a game. I also hope that he passes all of this on to his children when he has them.

I believe that any good sports event is better when you are pulling for one team or the other. Long ago I chose to be a Red Sox fan and had a great time watching them overcome their history. That is why I enjoyed this book so much. It got me thinking about where I stand and how I want to raise my kids. I’m very proud to be a worshipper of the baseball religion. I love watching the Sox and Yankees playing each other, just not as much as the Giants and D*%&#$@. I guess I should thank Bill Simmons for priming me for this season…cause this could be our season!

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  1. Alicia
    March 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Are you seriously considering raising Robby to not be a Giants fan?!?! You better start him in Orange and Black right now! Good grief…I can’t believe you are questioning this!?!?! Ps…I already have my Giant’s tickets for when they are in SD!

    • March 17, 2010 at 10:19 am

      Of course I am raising Robby to be a Giants fan!! It just brought up what am I going to be putting him through. Wish I was going to the games with you. Talk to you soon.

  2. jbiii
    October 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    AW–

    I came late to your cri de coeur. I have been a Red Sox fan since 1959, and was welded to the Wall when my Dad took me to the Fens in late season ’61–Teddy Ballgame’s last go-round. Jackie Jensen hit two over the Monster as the Sox beat Mike “the Bear” Garcia and the Senators (the real Senators) 5-4.

    I was hooked for life. An addict beyond any hope of redemption. But I remember one significant event the following season. McCovey hit that ball so dangnable hard it should have torn Bobby Richardson’s glove off. It did not.

    A bit of history just to say . . . Roy Oswalt is, at this moment, wishing he were back here (yeah, I live here) in Houston, where fans expect last minute heartbreaks like they do 90 degree days. Your Giants are 1 game from the big dance. Got a tender 1962 spot for them in my heart.

    Here’s hoping! 🙂

    • October 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks for the great comment. I was at the game that we won against Oswalt in the bottome of the ninth. It was my first Playoff game and it was an amazing experience.
      I am very jealous that you were able to see all those great teams and players. I have always wondered if it would have been better to be a fan then or now. I do have to admit that this current season is one of the best for me. I think that I now appreciate just how hard it is for your team to make it and keep winning in this atmosphere.
      So I’m hoping that one more and I’ll be celebrating a trip to the World Series for the Giants!

      In closing, I have been an addict for as far back as I can remember…but playoff baseball is like nothing else. A high with no competition…and I can only imagine what winning a World Series will be like!

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