As a Northern California sports fan, I’ve grown up conditioned to never celebrate before the mountain has actually been summited.
I always tell people that weathering being a fan of this area’s sports through the 2000s means I’ve earned the right to be a fan.
I watched the Sacramento Kings come oh-so close, oh-so often during the golden years in the early 2000s. I thought the Commissioner’s trophy was in the bag with only six outs to go in 2002. I’d still rather not bring up the mediocrity that was the San Francisco 49ers during the post-Steve Young years up until the Jim Harbaugh years.
So when Madison Bumgarner jogged out of the bullpen in the fifth inning, game seven of the World Series, I was silently waiting for the other shoe to drop.
He had simply been too good. There was no way this could continue. There was simply no possible way he could nearly single-handedly beat the Kansas City Royals for a third time in a seven-game series.
I watched as Bumgarner gave up a leadoff double to Eric Hosmer, thinking it was nice to make it this far, given what the team looked like in August.
Then I watched the Giants’ powerful southpaw grunt and will himself through the capper on arguably the best postseason performance in Major League Baseball history.
Fastballs zipped and located like it was May 1, that signature cutter still confounding Royals hitters the way it had in games one and five, the curveball that moves slower than Bay Bridge traffic still producing swing-throughs.
That dreadful feeling in my stomach began to fade. Even when both Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez misplayed an Alex Gordon blooper to center to put a runner on third with one out to go in the ninth, I knew this was different than all those times before.
Madison reared back one more time and busted one more cutter in on the hands of Salvador Perez. That was it. A wave of complete and utter euphoria washed over me as Pablo Sandoval fell to the ground, ball in glove.
It sounds silly to those who don’t follow sports, that these dumb games can bring so much joy to people who don’t even really have an effect on the outcome.
It’s that possibility of the impossible that keeps us fans going though. The Giants weren’t supposed to make the playoffs, let alone win the World Series. Fans hang on for the ride and end up getting memories that will last for a lifetime.
I’ll always remember being at The Bear, waiting with bated breath with my friends and a hundred other Giants fans straining to hear the call.
“Popped up, left side…”
Matt Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or @mattmurphy93 on Twitter.