As the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres face off in Game 2 of The Big Series tonight, one could be excused for confusing the M.O. of the two teams. Both feature pitching that ranges from above average to stellar and, on the offensive side, a lineup full of peaks
But not only do the teams resemble one another, so do the fans in the stands. Unlike followers of the Yankees or Red Sox who have grown arrogant with success, aficionados of the Giants and Padres are in constant terror that their team will give up the run, strand the runner, or lose the game. Fans' fond memories -- 1989 or 2002 for locals; 1984 or 1998 for San Diegoans -- emanate from the times the respective teams didn't
lose The Game We Always Lose.
As I have explained in years past, being a Giants fan is somewhat akin to a prison sentence -- which makes Shawshank Redemption parallels
easy and convenient. With the Giants, there's been all too much shit-smellin' foulness. But they never do manage to break free.
(And, by the way, now
is the time when the Giants have to get busy livin' or get busy dyin'
. It comes every year, and the Giants usually go the latter route).
The fans rooting for the other team get it. Their memories are nearly as tortured -- and they had to contend with yellow-in-front, brown-in-back uniforms
For many Padres fans, their earliest -- and fondest -- memories are of Steve Garvey leading the team back from a two-game deficit -- in a best-of-five series, mind you -- to capture the 1984 National League Championship Series
. They were too young to realize Steve Garvey was ever a Dodger -- or once known more for baseball than siring children outside of marriage
Of course, the Padres had the misfortune of being cast as national villains for keeping the lovable loser Chicago Cubs out of the World Series. That misfortune grew when they were matched against a truly dynamic Detroit Tigers team in the Fall Classic. There was no chance for San Diego.
Some Padres fans took solace that, unlike victorious Tigers fans, Padres fans did not loot and burn their city following the World Series. Fans don't tend to loot and burn after losing -- and, sure enough, losing became the Padres' thing. Yes, there were highlights -- Tony Gwynn, Benito Santiago's Jheri Curl
-- but the Pads were also-rans. Until '98 that is.
Back then, the greatest San Diego team of all-time captured the National League title. But, in another typical bit of San Diego misfortune, the team faced up against an astoundingly good New York Yankees team that had won 114 games in the regular season. There was no chance for San Diego.
This year's surprisingly good Padres team did the unthinkable -- it won over its skeptical fans, who were so vigilant about not getting hurt again. And, no sooner had it done so, the team reeled off a jaw-dropping 10 consecutive defeats to throw the reeling Giants a lifeline. San Francisco enters tonight's contest only a game out of first place. Should the Giants win three of four this weekend, it'd take a formidable effort by the Padres to avoid folding.
a chance for San Diego. But its fans -- like San Francisco's fans -- are waiting, terrified, for that other shoe to drop. And, in their case, it's a brown-and-yellow shoe.
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