Asparagus, Boiling Lead, Canada...

by Grant Brisbee


This was the cosmic pantsing we had expected, but it happened in front of the entire student body at the prom, instead of while waiting for the bus.


And suddenly, things are different.

You're at a dinner party, sitting politely at a table, eating asparagus and roast chicken. Someone passes you the pepper, and compliments the chef. Thanks, they reply, it was nothing. I'll give you the recipe if you'd like.

Then you're on the table, hurling the centerpiece through the picture window. You grab a candlestick, and start bludgeoning yourself in the forehead. As other guests run for cover amidst the sound of chrome hitting flesh and bone, you scream. Spittle and blood froth around your lips, and the words aren't clear at first. But the lack of diction isn't important. The volume of the primal scream vibrates everyone's skull. Soon, it's unmistakable what you are shrieking:

"Five to nothing, with one out, in the seventh inning! Five to nothing, with one out, in the seventh inning!"

Somewhere, a dog howls.


Boy, if I had a nickel for every time that scenario played out in the past month. Yet, when the Giants didn't make the playoffs in 2001, it merited a proverbial throwing of a sofa cushion. It would have been interesting to see how things would have played out if they had kept Mueller, you mutter. Yeah, a friend replies.

This year was a special kind of dejection, though. This wasn't a "kick me" sign on the back. This was getting invited to a Victoria's Secret lingerie party, and getting there to find only a nude, confused, Tony Danza eating mayonnaise straight from the jar. This was the year the Giants were invited to sit at a banquet table with the Red Sox, White Sox, and Cubs, and inducted into the Hall of Total F**cking Losers. Black tie only.

This team was getting old when the season started. It was hoping for Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Benito Santiago to be productive. Barry Bonds was going to drop off, perhaps substantially. Jeff Kent had a fractured wrist, which can linger all year, even after it heals enough to play baseball. This team wasn't going anywhere.

But Santiago decided to hit. Kent was fine. David Bell was a stud, even if only in comparison to Pedro Feliz. Jason Schmidt and Russ Ortiz were good. The bullpen was good. Bonds was a living, breathing, baseball deity. The team beat the upstart Dodgers to make the playoffs. Good for them.

Then it really started to get ridiculous.

They beat the Braves. They beat the Cardinals. Consider '87 and '93 avenged, gentlemen. It was off to face the A's or Yankees, and somewhere, the Tomb of the Unknown Giants Fan would contain a smiling old ghoul, because either '89 or '62 was going to be made up for.

And then the Angels made the World Series. The &@$%^!* Angels. A "scrappy," "blue collar" team who knew "what it took to win," and had fans that banged together "stupid-ass" balloons with ads on them. Where was the karmic joy in beating the Angels? This was a team whose soul-crushing, franchise-low moment came at the hands of the Red Sox.

How do you hate the Angels? They're the baseball equivalent of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, or Canada. They've always, I don't know, just been there. It would almost be against the laws of physics for them to make a difference. There was no ghost of Jose Oquendo leering ghoulishly over their shoulder. There was no haughty arrogance that comes with averaging a World Series title every four years. They didn't rob a gaggle of morons out of Fred McGriff to get where they were. They've always just been there.

Sure, some people tried to invent reasons to hate the Angels. They were just Dodgers-Lite. Their fans managed to be even more annoying than the Braves' fans, with the monkeys and the ThundrStixxx! and the hey, hey, hey. But they were hard to truly hate. And that's why the Giants lost. Sure, you could point to faulty roster construction, what had to be one of the worst benches in the history of postseason baseball, silly decision making, a total, abysmal collapse of the bullpen at the worst possible time, and just plain bad luck, but those aren't the real reasons the team lost. Wait a sec, that's exactly why they lost. But the lack of loathing the Angels demanded hurt too. Whatever.

The Angels pouncing on Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell, and Robb "Oh, By the Way, My Arm Is About To Fall Off" Nen in Game Six was a knife to the gut. But the end of the series was the boiling lead down the knickers. Three of the last six outs were made by Feliz, Shinjo, and Tom Goodwin. The game was started by the worst starter on the staff. These were the sort of players who told you the team had no chance to win it all before the season started. This was the cosmic pantsing we had expected, but it happened in front of the entire student body at the prom, instead of while waiting for the bus.

So the Giants weren't good enough at the start of the season, and they weren't good enough at the end. Except that they were good enough at the end. They had it wrapped up. They were five outs away. But if you let that kind of thinking take over, you're just that much closer to going into a Home Depot wearing chain mail, swinging a mace around your head, and singing a Gloria Estefan song while you take out innocent bystanders. If you're a true Giants fan, you're closer than you've ever been already.

Just repeat the mantra: The Giants weren't good enough at the start of the season, and they weren't good enough at the end. It might not be true, but it helps clear your head. They won the pennant. They won a World Series game for the first time in forty years. Bonds shed the undeserved choker label. Yee-haw?

I enjoyed Kenny Lofton's hit to beat the Cardinals. Man alive, that was exciting. The slider that Nen threw to J.D. Drew was one of the prettiest pitches I've ever seen. Bonds belting a homer in his first World Series at-bat was breathtaking. The postseason was a good ride. If Felix Rodriguez throws a fastball five inches lower, maybe Scott Spezio walks. And maybe the next guy grounds into a double play. But that's not relevant anymore. It's part of the healing process to think about Jesse Foppert going Tom Seaver on the baseball world next year, as the Giants ride free agents Edgardo Alfonzo, Cliff Floyd, Ray Durham, and Hideki Matsui to their first championship in San Francisco.

And drinking helps the pain, too. Lots of drinking. Sigh.


Grant Brisbee is a playboy and bon viveur based in a secret location in the continental United States (CONUS). World domination is his goal, but it would be the good kind of world domination. Also, of all EEEEEE! writers, he is the only one to sport a discernible entourage.

Copyright ©2002 by Grant Brisbee

Last updated 12/21/02
Gregg Pearlman, gregg@EEEEEEgp.com

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