I got up at 2am last night, and for once it was not for a crying baby, but for baseball, to watch my team, the San Francisco Giants, try to win their first World Series since 1954, before they were in San Francisco.
I sat there numb really, in a dark room with the glow of a computer screen and counted the seasons of my sports futility. I like four professional sports teams – two from San Francisco, two from Buffalo – and in 108 years of combined active rooting, they had won exactly 0 titles.
108 seasons. Sheesh.
Those four teams had played for 7 titles and lost in those 108 seasons. I would call three of those seven championship losses – Bills in 1990, Sabres in 1999, Giants in 2002 – heart breaking, soul crushing, bitterness inducing.
The other four just sucked.
Now I have perspective on sports. It is not my life. It is a diversion. But, still, I grew up with this losing, and it does sink in somehow, especially when you like teams from depressed Buffalo while you live in sunny California. I internalized it, as desperate as any Boston or Chicago fan with their infamous current or now-broken losing streaks. Except mine was a mishmash of teams. There was no one to share my pain with. I did not have a city to console myself with.
I did not live in Buffalo, and in San Francisco, the football team kept winning Super Bowls, so those people could not understand. Heck, my own father, for all his sympathy and shared pain, has even seen his childhood team win two World Series in his lifetime.
I’ve distanced myself from it as I got older, but I couldn’t let go either, maybe not watching as much because I could not bear the ridiculous failure anymore. Games! They are games, and you got to win games at some point.
Well, my team won its game last night. Easily. Almost too easily. I got my friction instead from the same early morning place as always. My son woke up at 3:20 in the morning, and I missed the last outs as I tried to shush him back to at least a light doze. I got sad then, but then got happy as we watched the highlights over and over and over an hour later.
The Giants won. My team won. I could stop watching sports now. I do not have to fear next year. I do not have to agonize on a deeper level that the other three teams I like are nowhere near winning anything.
I feel like I am just puking up facts here, not getting to the heart of anything, to what this means to me as a father, as a son, as a child of poor winless Buffalo. I am not writing about my memories of freezing summer days at Candlestick Park, taking the bus with my friend Jason, a bottle of Coke and a baguette to share in the wind. I am not writing about the countless games I listened to as a child, Hank Greenberg on the radio putting me to sleep with tales of terrible Giant teams. I am not writing about my most engaged baseball week of my childhood – September, 1986 when I hoped and prayed that the Giants – on a winning streak – would not lose 100 games. They did.
No, I think I just need to say all this. To put out the numbers, to list the teams, to try and make some sense of the meaning of this. I want to be in San Francisco right now. I want to go to a parade. I have never wanted to go to a parade before. It makes me want to move back, to go to games with friends again, to leave Swedish football hooligans behind (me and the boy had to swerve around a parade of them in our park on Sunday).
It makes me happy.