So the team I hate the most in MLB is in the World Series. The Giants, who give me a few moments of joy with every error, and a sustained grin for upwards of 30 seconds with each loss, have earned the right to battle Disney's Hustlin' White Guys™ in the World Series. I should be beside myself with either disdain or apathy.
And yet, I find myself actually cheering a player I don't like (Kenny Lofton), when he rakes a clean single to right to put a team I don't like (the f'ing Giants) in the postseason. I'm actually happy the Giants are in the jewel of the postseason.
What the hell is wrong with me?
Well, the complete answer to that question would probably be too long and detailed to get into, and I'm pretty sure the DSM-IV is copyrighted, so let's limit the scope of the question to matters related to baseball.
I've spent the last few hours trying to figure out how my heart or hearts could betray me so. I'm an unabashed A's fan. If technology allowed, I'd have an animated tattoo of the last out of the 1989 series. I've got a few theories about this particular phenomenon, and they have the added benefit of raising my opinion of humanity in general, so let's have a peek…
I grew up in the bay area, and as much as I hate to admit it, it's Giant country. I have a bunch of friends who are walking around with that goofy cheshire grin that indicates that their club is still going to be playing this weekend. I haven't seen most of them in years, but I know they're happy, and thinking about them brings back some tremendous memories. I know Tim Underwood's pumped about the series, even though I haven't seen him in over 10 years. And as I thought about Tim and his ratty-ass, sweatmarked Giants cap, I remembered some really great times we had so many years ago. I think of friends like Tod Johnson, Brian Jones, Bryce Lynn, Christian DuVair, our own Michael Wolverton, the people at EEEEEE!!!!, and the generous people in the Giants' front office who have helped us at BP, and I'm glad that they're getting to enjoy the ride.
Baseball is many things to many people, but I think that for almost everyone, it's a guide back to memories or friends that make you reflexively smile.
I don't really know why this is the case. I live about 30 miles from SF as the crow flies, in a small town near Mt. Diablo called Clayton. I worked in SF two years ago, and the commute was bad enough to make me leave a great group of very talented people. On the worst mornings, for those of you live in the area, I would turn onto Ygnacio Valley Road, and already be in line for the toll plaza on the Bay Bridge. It was nothing short of ghastly, soul-devouring tedium.
Additionally, I don't even particularly like San Francisco. I'm not nearly hip enough to see the charm in cranky, deranged derelicts conducting their own "4th Olympiad of Bodily Functions for Distance." Yes, it's a beautiful city, and there's an energy to it that you just don't find in other places, but there's just too many damn people, excessive self-importance, and not enough parking spaces. The Dim Sum isn't enough to compensate for the myriad of problems, at least for me.
And yet, I feel a kind of geographic kinship with SF and Peninsula residents, even though I think I've spent more time in San Diego during the last 12 months than I have in San Francisco. I feel like the Giants are bearing some sort of standard for Northern California or something. Maybe this is just evidence that I'm simple minded and easily pulled into cult-like behavior. C'est La Vie.
First… I'd like to see Barry Bonds get a ring. During the last three years, I've had more inside access, and I'm more convinced than ever that the mainstream has an irrational dislike of the guy. I just don't get it.
I believe Bonds is the Best Player Ever to play Major League Baseball, and I like the idea of the Best Player Ever having a ring. That kind of simple relationship makes my world a little more manageable. The cognitive dissonance of Alex Rodriguez somehow being undeserving of the MVP because he's on a team where he's probably also in the top 8-10 pitchers is still ruining my mornings. I can be pretty fragile that way.
Second… I like the way the Giants are run. They don't make player personnel assessments the way I do, but they have a plan, a solid business plan and management team, built their own ballpark (to a very large extent), and put together a really great experience for people to come out to the park. That should be rewarded.
I haven't gone completely overboard. I love baseball, and I think we all have some hardwiring in our brains that makes us pick a side, for whatever reasons may fall from the ether. Maybe, like most sane Americans, I have a deep and abiding fear and loathing of Disney or something. Who knows? I know that I'll have to suffer some sort of karmic turnaround because of this betrayal of my beloved A's. Some horrible fate will undoubtedly come crashing down because of my transgression. Fortunately, I know Billy Beane isn't going to go out and acquire J.T. Snow or something.
But as much as I hate to admit it, I'm actually rooting for the Giants. Not with the enthusiasm of someone who actually likes them, but quietly, almost guiltily. It's weird how new loyalties can pop up in the postseason, and it's another reason why this is such a great game.
If you're a Red Sox fan whose loyalties switch to the Yankees during the postseason, or a sinner of similar eminence, send me your confessional. Who could be better at absolution than a fellow sinner?