Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Memory Made

Major League Baseball's 2010 World Series started on October 27th. It became a series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers, who had beaten the New York Yankees in six games to earn their spot on the big stage.

The deception started the previous day, October 26th, when I casually mentioned to Smunch that I was going to pick him up early from school so we could go have his bottom braces installed.

He refused to wear his Giants gear to school to celebrate the Giants' first World Series in eight years, despite my admonishments. The first thing I did when I picked him up was hand him his Giants jersey. He was confused. I confessed...Although you can't tell, the moment of realization involves the cameraman (Daddy) holding up two pieces of paper.

Daddy had gotten a bonus from work a week or so earlier. He decided that he'd like nothing better than to spend it on sending his wife and son to create the memory of a lifetime together. I wasn't about to refuse.

So, I made Smuch put on his gear and we zipped over to the train station.The scene at the park was like nothing I'd quite experienced before. It was crowded outside. It was "smushy" getting in.The NLDS game was crowded, but we'd had seats in the somewhat (although not terribly) exclusive club section, where there are fewer crowds when it comes to getting food and such. This time, we had better seats, but getting there was no picnic. I'm sure the people in the seats next to ours thought I was moving in with all the jackets and blankets I'd brought. I shouldn't have. We never needed them.

John Legend sang the national anthem.And once that was over, this guy started his first World Series game...our first World Series game...against the Rangers' ace, Cliff Lee...who had never lost a postseason game in his illustrious career and had won the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies just a year earlier.During the first inning, this guy... second baseman, Freddy Sanchez, hit his first double of the night...a night when he would hit a historic three doubles in his first three World Series at bats. And in a huge surprise, that Smunch failed to appreciate, when the first inning was over (and the Giants were down 1-0, so Smunch was failing to appreciate a lot of things), this man stepped out onto the field...and began to sing. I left my San Francisco.... I couldn't believe our luck. Tony Bennett, aged, but still in full voice, sang his most famous song and we were there to hear it!

The people who sat around us were fabulous. One waved a big flag, that may have hit me in the head a few times...but someday, when I get around to watching the television coverage, I'll know just where to find us. [Update: Smunch just started watching that game again this morning and found us in the crowd right away. Oh my gosh, we really were there!]

One of the reasons the Giants/Rangers matchup was so interesting (aside from the Lincecum/Lee matchup) was because of these two guys.The guy catching for the Rangers is Bengie Molina, a beloved former catcher for the Giants. He got an enthusiastic welcome back when they introduced him that night. The guy at the plate? That's Buster Posey, the Giants' rookie catcher. They traded Molina to the Rangers to bring this guy up from the minors and get him behind the plate. Turns out, as much as I truly miss Bengie, it was a good tactical move. Posey has been awesome and is favored (at least in some circles) to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. Bengie taught him well, when he arrived in San Francisco.

Although this game was billed as a super duper pitching duel between two unquestionable aces, it turned out to be a slugfest instead. After the second inning, the score was 2-0 Rangers and I had a grumpy little boy on my hands. I didn't dare ask Daddy how much he spent on these tickets, but I know it was more than Smuch could appreciate. And much more than I'd have been willing to spend on a noisy evening with a grouchy kid. No, I wasn't thrilled either, but it was O.K.

In the third inning, something funny happened. The Giants scored, the game was tied and my happy Smunch returned. All our neighbors were thrilled to be high-fiving the happy little boy bouncing around in his seat. He was totally into it once the Giants dug out of their hole.And the high fives kept coming too. The Giants scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 5th, including a towering 3-run homer by Juan Uribe. It was loud, it was happy. Smunch and I were happy too.The score was 8-2. And then it was 8-4. It certainly wasn't Timmy's performance from his game against the Braves, but he hung in there for 5-2/3 innings. It was something to behold. Tony Bennett came back out for a lovely rendition of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch, followed by the crowd lustily singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. So much fun tradition around baseball...and so much more fun when you're at the World Series...and winning.

Somewhere in there, Smunch announced that he had to go to the bathroom. Having already gone on a hotdog run, I knew it was going to be a slog through the crowd. And I knew there were crazy long lines for the bathrooms. We ended up trekking halfway around the park...and then I ended up making him go in the women's room with me. The upside of all that was that we got to take a good look at this:That's McCovey Cove, so full of kayakers and boats that you could nearly walk from the park to the other side. And there's the sidewalk crammed with people...outside the ballpark in the middle of the game. I suppose they were hoping to catch a peek through the windows down there. I doubt they succeeded.

Brian "The Beard" Wilson, the Giants closer came out to warm up in the bottom of the 8th, but the Giants scored three more runs and his services rendered unnecessary, he returned to the dugout. In the top of the 9th, however, it seemed like the Giants went through every reliever they had while giving up three more runs. Finally, The Beard reappeared...and shut the game down. World Series win #1 for Tim Lincecum.It may not have been pretty, but it counted just the same. And Smunch and I? Well, I dunno how pretty we were, but we had one of the best mommy/son date nights ever!

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