My name is Paulo Camacho, and this is Macho Sports.
The 2011 Major League Baseball season has only begun, but the buzz over the area’s revered local team, the San Francisco Giants, is still as loud as ever. For the first time in the city’s history, the Giants come into the new season as the defending World Series Champions, after an unprecedented postseason. On MLB’s Opening Day, hundreds of fans flocked to various sports bars all over Davis to watch their Giants begin the season against the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
As a Giants fan, the memories of San Francisco’s championship run are still fresh in my mind: from their division title win on the final day of the regular season, to Tim Lincecum’s 14-strikeout debut against the Atlanta Braves; from Cody Ross’ two home runs off Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay to Juan Uribe’s epic home run to seal their second World Series appearance in eight years; from their unexpected offensive explosion against nigh-untouchable postseason pitcher Cliff Lee in Game 1 to their shutout by rookie sensation Madison Bumgarner in Game 4.
For many Giants fans reading this article, you may ask, “What about Game 5?” After all, it was the culmination 54 years in the making for the city of San Francisco. With two of the best Major League pitchers facing off in Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers, and Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants, many believed the rematch of World Series Game 1 would be an epic battle – and it was, until a three-run home run by Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria gave San Francisco the lead for good. As closer Brian Wilson delivered the final strike to Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, all of Giants Nation rejoiced in a sea of pure, unadulterated joy. It was an epic moment for Giants fans whose motto was “Torture” for an entire 2010 season.
And I went and missed it.
Ironically enough, I had watched the game up until the 6th inning – the inning before the moment Renteria made Giants history. I left to fulfill a prior commitment to another story I was working on at the time. In retrospect, I probably could have skipped it to watch the game, as many Giants fans could attest.
“Missing … [the Giants] winning [the World Series]? No, not at all,” exclaimed Stephen Rishwain, a UC Davis student who had been following the Giants for over 12 years, when asked if there would be a reason to miss the title-claiming moment. “An emergency hospital trip for family or a close friend, or something. That’s about it.”
“I pretty much watched every [Giants playoff] game,” added Mike Marinakis, a substitute teacher in Woodland, and a Giants fan since childhood. “There’s no way [I would miss] any playoff game, at all, let alone a World Series game.”
Will Arnold, emcee at The Davis Graduate, could only sympathize for my plight. “I’ve had that experience, before,” he bemoaned. “Not quite to that level, I suppose … I have watched important games on my phone, refreshing for the score, and, obviously, it’s not quite the same, [because] you don’t get to share the moment … it’s too bad.”
But I digress – because, despite my ill timing back in early November, Giants fans in Davis were on hand to witness the historic moment. Many of which were, incidentally, at the Grad – like Arnold, who was emceeing for Monday Night Football that night. However, because of the World Series, it was obvious the establishment was not focused on football.
“I really had genuinely waited for this for a long time,” Arnold recalled. “When I was a little kid, playing baseball, or just pretending to be playing baseball, I would have this kind of [fantasy] … it would be the Giants winning the World Series. And, [when it happened,] there wasn’t any disappointment or anything like that. When people have been waiting for it, and then there it is, a lot of times with those type of situations, you’re kind of let down, [but] it was exactly how it was supposed to be. It was exciting; I was in a room full of people who were excited; I was with friends that I know had waited their whole lives for it.”
Grad employee Sherman McMurtry, also saw the madness of Brian Wilson’s final strikeout of Nelson Cruz, to seal San Francisco’s World Series victory. “Ridiculous … Ridiculous chaos,” he said. “People were jumping up and down, everybody was hugging each other, people were crying, people were ecstatic, speechless … I was very, very happy and very ecstatic.”
Also at the Grad were future graduate students Carolina Bistue and Sophia Eckert. “It was super exciting, because everyone at the bar had the same feeling,” Bistue said. “People were so excited, didn’t know what to do.”
“We were sort of hoping for a home victory, but we were so excited,” Eckert added. “We were hugging strangers, for sure.”
As the final outs played out in Game 5, some fans could not help but be retrospective of the Giants’ recent postseason history, like UC Davis chemistry major, and lifelong Giants fan, Alex Murrain. “I was a fan in 2002 when … THAT happened,” he said, laughing – “that” being the Giants’ heartbreaking World Series loss to the Anaheim Angels. “It was nice to have them redeem themselves, finally, and take it home.”
Rishwain, also at the Grad, shared those sentiments, admitting he was extremely nervous during the ninth inning. “I’m sure a lot of Giants were thinking the same thing I did – 2002, it was the exact same thing: up a few runs, late innings, lead in the World Series, and they blew it. I wasn’t celebrating until the last out was made, because I knew how that turned out.”
Christina Fajardo, a recent UC Davis graduate and a Giants fan for three years, was at nearby Lamppost Pizza to experience the moment. “I felt it was really awesomely overwhelming,” she exclaimed. “Watching them go through all of these close calls and moments of pure torture, then taking the title, it was so awesome. It was unbelievable – probably the most exciting feeling I’ve ever had.”
And, now, with the new season, Giants fans have had an entire offseason to bask in the glory of their team’s World Series championship. They now know what it is like to have a defending World Series champion team, and continue to reap the rewards of that distinction.
“The moment continues when you win a championship for the full year,” Arnold describes. “Because then, you get to relive it, [but] not so much in a visceral sense … Even at the Grad, when we get delivered signs that say, ‘hey, come to Opening Day and watch your World Champion Giants,’ you know, you [say], ‘Hey, that’s right, we DID win.’”
Arnold then recalled an occurrence from earlier this year, as the Little League season began. Two brothers came in – one in a Giants hat, the other in a Dodgers hat. He asked the kid in the Giants hat why his brother was wearing a rival team’s cap.
“He plays for the Dodgers in Little League,” the kid said.
After a second, Arnold came back. “Okay … but he knows who won the World Series, right?”
“Oh, yeah, he knows,” the kid replied.
Because, wherever Giants fans were on that cool November night, the fact that they won was all that mattered.