Diary of a San Francisco Giants Championship Run

By Jimmy Spencer, SacMidtown.com

Note: This piece was written for myself. I wanted to chronicle all of the moments and sentiments from the Giants World Series season. It isn’t well written or even well thought out. Regardless, I post it here to share with all of you.

I was dancing on a pool table.

I usually don’t dance, particularly on pool tables. I guess I was caught up in the moment.

When Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz for the final out on the night of Nov. 1, 2010, the Giants had won their first World Series in the city of San Francisco. As it happened, I stood in the city, in a Union Street bar packed with close to 1,000 fellow Giants fans, all of us roaring.

As Wilson got that last out of the season, my arms rose to new heights and I howled – as long and loud of a yell as I’ve ever released – surrendering to my emotions. It’s still hard to explain how I felt as the Giants players piled into one another at the center of the diamond. It was surreal, thrilling and sentimental.

It was a time to let go of the hurt this team had caused over the years and to celebrate the moment I began rooting for as a 5-year-old. And in that moment, I began acting like a 5-year-old, climbing up on a pool table where I continued to rejoice. Then it was back down to a group of friends where we created a mosh pit filled with elation and love.

Again, as it kept hitting me over and over, the San Francisco Giants were World Champions.

Greater Than ‘Just a Championship’

It’s more than winning. I wrote in a column in the midst of the World Series that the beauty of sports is that you can’t control the moment. It’s the ability to give oneself over to a cause that is more than you.

It’s to care deeply for the unexpected – to be captivated through times of elation and anguish.

And, in the end, to have absolutely no power over the outcome.

It’s to share a passion for the strangers who you root for and those strangers who you root with. This was that time to live in that feeling.

Letting It All Out

After celebratory shots, my friends and I took to the streets of San Francisco to celebrate. I set a record for high-fives and hugs that night, as we picked each other up, took pictures with strangers and slapped hands with people driving by in cars. We made idiots of ourselves and it was the right thing to do. For that night, we just soaked it all in.

Adorned in my Tim Lincecum long-haired, black wig, I bobbed up and down the streets, finding unbridled energy and enthusiasm. At one point, a buddy (also in the same wig) and I were standing on a corner in front of a liquor store when two kids around the age of 10 were walking with their dads. We stopped them, pointed with authority and said, “YOU REMEMBER THIS!” Who had we become? The kids agreed to not forget, and I hope they never do. They got their gift at an early age and our purpose was to make sure they appreciated what had just happened.

We bombarded corners and intersections, where thousands of Giants fans celebrated with chants, spraying of champagne and beer, and grins from ear to ear.

As a city, as a fan base, we took it all in.

The Unexpected Season

As a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, I have given myself to those moments of celebration and seemingly inevitable heartache. I never expected this would be the season the Giants would win.

A group of friends and I routinely emailed about the Giants, a tradition that included making predictions prior to Opening Day. I picked this team to finish at 78-64, good enough for third place. I thought the signing of Aubrey Huff at first base was a terrible decision by General Manager Brian Sabean. I predicted that Brian Wilson would be the season’s biggest disappointment. I thought Pablo Sandoval would hit .338 with 34 home runs.

Two days after the Giants World Series victory, I reflected on those predictions as I stood 100 yards away from the Giants ceremony at City Hall following the ticker-tape parade down Market Street, as Huff reached into his pants and pulled out the lucky, “Rally Thong.” Huff was a hero all season long, Wilson was the game’s best closer and Pablo finished on the bench.

It felt so great to be so wrong. Next year, I’m sure we’ll all pick them to win the World Series.

The parade was truly unbelievable. I basked amongst the nearly one million who packed San Francisco streets as seas of black and orange celebrated. My friend and I maneuvered our way through the crowd, as close as we could to the stage. We’d come so far with this team; we might as well be as close to that championship trophy as possible.

It was incredible to see the lineup of Giants players take the stage in front of City Hall. So many guys were responsible for the trophy, all who made such an impact on the season.

My view of the city hall during the parade, Lincecum speaking

The Giants of 2010

It was the young, brilliant pitching rotation of Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and rookie Madison Bumgarner. It was the “Fear the Beard” bullpen, highlighted by the dyed black beard of Wilson at closer, was dominant in the postseason thanks to relievers Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Ramon Ramirez. It was even Barry Zito, who had big performances in the regular season despite being left off the playoff roster.

There was Juan Uuuuuu-RIBE who earned a place in Giants history as the guy who would freely swing for the fences and seemed to find those hits on the biggest occasions.

Edgar Renteria, the World Series MVP, whose courage and character shined the brightest when it mattered the most. His three-run home run just over the left-centerfield wall in Game 5 ignited that Union Street bar (still the most deafening sound my ears have ever felt) and ended up being the series-clinching hit.

Here’s a quick excerpt in a great feature from the San Jose Mercury News’ Andrew Baggerly. It captures a moment in late September in the hitter’s cage behind the ivy at Wrigley Field at a time that the Giants stood a half-game back in the division.

Renteria took the floor. He said it didn’t matter that he wasn’t playing every day. He would make any sacrifice to win another World Series, and he stood behind every person wearing a Giants uniform.

And he wept.

“He broke down, and we all broke down with him,” first baseman Aubrey Huff said. “Since then, I’ve wanted this more for him than anybody. What a leader he is.”

Click to watch video of Renteria's tearful interview

Renteria’s composure was challenged again as he took possession of perhaps the most unlikely MVP trophy in World Series history. During an interview with ESPN Deportes (watch by clicking photo to the right), he suddenly bent at the waist and covered his face, unable to hold back from sobbing.

To me, Renteria embodied the entire Giants team of 2010. They weren’t supposed to be there, but they were driven by something greater than talent. It was a group filled with desire.

There were resilient and confident. Rookies like Buster Posey and Bumgarner who acted like veterans. Actual veterans like Huff and Freddy Sanchez who simply wanted it too much to be turned away. Guys like Renteria, Uribe and Burrell who have won before and assumed they’d do it again. Oh, and of course, Cody Ross, who came out of nowhere (Florida) as a key ingredient that embodies all those things.

You could make the case that each guy contributed to the Giants’ championship. Without any of them, it might not have happened. This was the type of team in which you could tell everyone just flat-out liked one another. When someone struck out, or a reliever blew a game, you got the sense that teammates truly felt for him. No snide remarks in the dugout, any eyes rolling or heads shaking.

There was never a more likeable team.

A Family Together

My brother and me

I will never forget Game 1 of the first round against the Atlanta Braves. I went with my best friend, my brother.

We walked into that stadium with the same smiles that we wore as kids riding our bikes to our “farm league” baseball games during summers in Novato. That night, we cheered for every strike and cringed with nerves on every ball. Luckily for us, Lincecum struck out 14 in the win.

Even my mom was sending me texts throughout the games. My aunts, uncles and cousins were emailing me about the Giants. Even Dad was watching and rooting from Missouri.

In a column I wrote after the Giants took a 2-0 series lead in the World Series, I chronicled how it came to be that I was a Giants fan.

My Grandpa handed down the Giants. He grew up in San Francisco and watched as the Giants moved to his city in 1958. He was there in 1962, along with my then nine-year-old Uncle Barry, for Game 7 of the World Series against the Yankees when Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson in the ninth inning. (He gave me the program from that 1962 series, which I now have sitting with the 2010 program I took home from Game 1.)

My Grandpa

Grandpa passed away in 2005 and never saw his city celebrate a World Series championship.

Now, Grandpa has seen his Giants finally win it all. And I felt him as I, and my entire family, celebrated this monumental season.

The Lucky Shirt

It was my bright orange Giants shirt. It was filled with luck. It took just one loss all postseason (Game 5 of the NLCS) and I loved it. It also is a miracle shirt.

On a Sunday in October, the smoke alarm in my home began blaring, smoke filled the laundry room. A fire was going in the dryer, fire extinguishers sat on the shelf above the dryer, the fire was put out, blaring fire trucks came regardless, the clothes were all burnt, yet somehow the undefeated orange Giants shirt survived.

I wore that darn shirt for every game afterwards – it’s in every photo. That shirt has been sent to my personal Hall-of-Fame.

Bigger Than My Career

I became a sports writer because I love sports. There’s a wall that journalists create between them and “their teams” to protect their voice and objectivity. This season, I threw that all away.

I cover basketball, I cover football and I cover politics. It was meant to be that I never covered these Giants.

My friend Armando and I at Game 1 of the World Series

I had taken plenty of time away from working that October to commemorate this season. I never missed a single postseason game.

I was lucky enough to be at Game 1 against the Braves, at Game 3 of the NLCS (Cain’s domination in a 3-0 win vs. the Phillies), the tough NLCS Game 5 loss that kept us from watching the Giants celebrate a pennant at home and the first game of the World Series that featured a Giants’ six-run fifth inning and an 11-7 win. Heck, I saw Tony Bennett perform “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” live at the World Series.

I was supposed to work that Monday when the Giants won the deciding Game 5. It was the Sacramento Kings home opener against the Toronto Raptors and my responsibilities as a writer for NBA.com were gnawing at my fanhood.

Armando, my sidekick during this postseason run, put it best: In five years, I would easily forget that I missed working a Kings vs. Raptors game. But if the Giants were to win that night, and I witnessed it as part of San Francisco, it would be a memory I’d never forget.

He pushed and he pushed. Finally, I gave in and we headed down I-80 West to San Francisco.

It was the greatest decision I have ever made as a fan – and I will be forever grateful to Armando for his resolve.  Two days later, it would be a much easier decision to miss the Kings-Lakers contest to be at the championship parade.

No More Bitterness

I once said that half of the fun of being a sports fan was being able to talk trash about other teams or opposing players. Sports arguments became bigger than the game.

After the Giants beat the Phillies in the National League Championship, I decided to change my demeanor. I was tired of being a bitter sports fan, one who was only happy to say, “My team beat your team therefore I am better than you.”

That’s not what I wanted. My greatest desire became to celebrate the positive things that my team was doing. It wasn’t about the opponent or how much I hated Jayson Werth.

I wasn’t mad at the bandwagoners either. A blogger named Drew Hoolhorst put it best in a column written during the World Series: “To all the people who hate “bandwagon” fans? Let it go. Who cares.… That’s silly. Knock it off. Let them in. Buy them a beer, or a kombucha. Whatever it is. I don’t care. Just let this happen and stop Eeyoring the crap out of our unlimited happiness we’re on the brink of.”

As a Giants fan, I reached that unlimited happiness. Even Dodgers fans picked up on it and became less annoying. It was no longer about pumping my chest.

This might be a stretch, but this team may have actually made me a better person.

One thing is for sure: There will never be a team or a season that will feel more special than this 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.

About Jimmy Spencer

Jimmy Spencer has extensive experience in journalism and new media. As the founding editor of SacMidtown.com, Spencer combines his writing, reporting and editing skills to produce a "pretty good site about midtown." During the day, Spencer covers government and also covers the NBA. At night, he watches T.V. and plays on the Internet. Every now and then, he walks around his midtown neighborhood. Spencer began his professional journalism career with The Sacramento Bee, finishing his tenure with the McClatchy-owned newspaper in the new media department. Spencer moved to Connecticut where he continued his growth in new media as a writer/content producer for NBC Sports. Spencer also worked in media relations with the Sacramento River Cats, Minor League Baseball Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Spencer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from California State University, Sacramento where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The State Hornet campus newspaper. Spencer was raised in Marin County and currently lives in Sacramento, Calif. Spencer works in the community as a high school basketball coach in the Sacramento area.

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Posted by on Nov 5 2010. Filed under 49ers/Raiders/A's/Giants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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