Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Doing the Double

During the first week of May 1979, Arsenal won the FA Cup and Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. Noted Arsenal fanatic, and political left winger, Nick Hornby, admits that he was willing to accept a Conservative victory in the general election if it meant that Arsenal would win the cup. Arsenal goes on to win the cup in miraculous fashion, and the Tories won the general election. Reflecting on this week years later, Hornby ponders if this bargain of a Conservative win was worth the bargain of an Arsenal cup victory. Looking back on 11 years of Thatcher, and a total of 18 years of Tory rule, Hornby concludes that he wouldn't settle now for anything less then the double(FA cup and league title in the same year).

I find myself in a similar position. Yesterday, Democrats suffered a large defeat in the midterm elections. The defeat of many politicians(Russ Feingold, Alan Grayson) that I admire saddens me, and the result of the elections here in Iowa leave me on the verge of being despondent.

However, the biggest event of the week was the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series. I have been a Giants fan since I was a toddler in the late 1970's. The very first sporting events I ever attended were Giants games at Candlestick Park and as I boy I would fall asleep listening to Giants games on the radio. I celebrated the hum-baby season of 1987 and I was devestated by 87 NLCS series against the Cardinals. I took great joy in the 89 pennant, and watched with horror and humiliation the 1989 earthquake World Series. I enjoyed the summer of 93 and watched with uncomprehending dread the fall of 93 as the Giants managed to win 103 games but still miss the play-offs by 1 game. In 2002 I thought the Giants were finally going to win it all but with 5 outs remaining the whole season fell apart. Along the way there have been numerous minor heartaches and frustrations.

All of that changed on Monday night as the Giants finally won the World Series and they did it in a season in which no one expected them to make a serious run. Earl Weaver's adage that pitching, defense, and the three run homer are the keys to victory held true for the Giants. 30+ years of devotion and heartache were justified during this magical run.

For me, the elation of a Giants championship makes even last night's election results bearable. For I have been a Giants fan longer then I have been a political junkie, and I have learned that Giants baseball is much more dependable then the electorate. However, unlike Hornby, I did get my double. The college team that I pull for, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, won the College World Series and I even attended a game. Even the minor league team in my hometown, the Jacksonville Suns, won the Southern League title.

So I thank the Gamecocks for a foretaste of the joy that was to come throughout the summer. Most of all I thank the San Francisco Giants who made every night of dressing in layers to attend a ball game June, and every year of being a long distance fan worth it. Mostly I thank the Giants for redeeming every season of heartbreak and frustration in one joyful and exciting play-off ride. Thank you and always Fear the Beard.

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