The department in which I work is largely populated with Yankee fans. This of course makes even our management look askance on those who dare to support other teams, particularly that dysfunctional mess in Flushing. People who support the finely-honed machine that operates out of the Bronx can't understand why anyone would stick with the Mets when one had such a stellar in-town alternative.
One thing about being a Mets fan is that you often have two choices after the regular season -- either forget baseball exists until next year (and this year, until you find out whether they're going to give Sandy Alderson the job or another lackey who's just going to be cover for Jeff Wilpon's ineptitude, Mr. Wilpon not having learned from George W. Bush that ownership of a team should not make the player decisions, see also: Sammy Sosa), or pick another team as short-term good guy. Office politics prevent me from doing this with anyone other than the Yankees, but now that the Yankees' aging on-field presence proved not enough for the younger, hungrier Texas Rangers, the choice is now clear. And as happy as I am that Jeff Francoeur, who was treated pretty shabbily by the Mets, is in the World Series, that's where it ends. Because what we now have is the delicious allegory of a San Francisco vs. Texas World Series, which in this election year, is further proof that baseball really IS a metaphor for life. New York may have not one but TWO pretty damn good football teams this year, one of them boasting a smokin' hot quarterback whose love of musical theatre makes me wonder if he'll show up in the doldrums of February on Glee
. But if it's going to be seventy-five degrees on October 27, I want baseball.
None other than Joan Walsh takes a break from MSNBC appearances to wax rhapsodic about the Little Team That Could
, led by its flaxen-haired pitching phenom:
So real Giants fans know the truth: It's possible to love the Giants of 2002 and 2010, to see the differences -- and some similarities, too. Leaving aside Bonds and the great Jeff Kent, that earlier team had guys who were (almost literally) left for dead; catcher Benito Santiago hadn't been expected to play baseball again after a devastating car accident in 1998; he was NLCS MVP. Career .257 hitter David Bell, who played for six teams, scored the series-winning run against the Cardinals; washed-up ex-Cub Shawon Dunston (now a Giants coach) hit a two-out single to set up that win. The postseason wasn't all about Barry.
Still, it's not giving into the cheesy media narrative to admit this is an extraordinary team that wasn't supposed to be here (don't believe anyone who said they picked these Giants to win back in the spring). First baseman Aubrey Huff had no offers when the Giants signed him; Pat Burrell had been flat-out released by Tampa Bay; NLCS MVP Cody Ross was claimed in August when the Florida Marlins put him on waivers. Center fielder Andres Torres, clutch in that wild AT&T outfield as well as at the plate, is 32 and never before played a full season in the majors.
It is possible that no Giants team in my years here has been embraced so thoroughly. I just know we've got swag that celebrates this funky team accordingly. You can buy hats with long Lincecum-like locks attached, as well as T-shirts saying, "Let Timmy smoke" (the Cy Young winner was arrested in the offseason for marijuana possession) and most recently, "Fuck Yeah!" commemorating the star pitcher's recent NSFW comments on national television.
You can buy panda hats to honor Pablo Sandoval. There are fake black beards everywhere, thanks to the increasingly strange (and dominating) Wilson. I've even seen a few rally thongs, made famous by Huff, who put on a red, rhinestone studded thong to bust a slump in August and claims to have worn it ever since. You can listen to fan-made musical tributes to Huff's rally thong (to the tune of Elton John's "Your Song" -- that's right, it's "Your Thong"), to clutch pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa ("Ishikawa da vida, baby") and the entire team: A video using Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" has had more than a million views on YouTube. The outpouring of creative fan-made Giants tributes makes it seem as though these overachieving everymen have brought out the dreamer in everyone.
Tim Lincecum is easy to hate when he's shutting out your team, but in the abstract, when there's no loyalty-since-childhood to deal with (although my father WAS a Giants fan before they packed up and went to San Francisco, leaving him pining for a National League team until the Mets came along), his retro-hippie sensibility makes him exactly the kind of player that gives wingnuts (and Philadelphia fans) fits. Because if there's one thing they hate, it's a pot-smoking, long-haired pitcher who bears a striking facial resemblance to figure skater Johnny Weir, has the kind of weird delivery that makes him injury-prone but has this year developed a truly nasty slider to replace the lost velocity on his fastball, and isn't at all fazed by things like Philadelphia fans' boorish speculation on his sexual orientation simply because he has long hair.
Next year I hope to see a third-place Mets team dominated by a young group of hardworking players, with a front-office determined to take the time necessary to build a system, not patch together a bunch of has-beens. Next year, when Tim Lincecum comes to town, I will hate him again. But for now, as he goes against Cliff Lee the Terminator and Inevitable Future Yankee, it's all Timmeh! in this house.