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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal on Opening Day

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 6:30 AM

Will this be the Giants' year? Or will it be another season resembling Andy Dufresne's crawl through 500 yards of shit-smelling foulness?
  • Will this be the Giants' year? Or will it be another season resembling Andy Dufresne's crawl through 500 yards of shit-smelling foulness?
I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope. -- Red, closing lines of The Shawshank Redemption.

Sports is the blanket we toss over the tattered couches of our lives. And yet, on opening day -- and, weather permitting, today is the 51st in San Francisco Giants history -- the blanket seems, if only temporarily, luxuriant and plush to the touch.

Today is a day that lifelong Giants fans can blithely forget that, when you follow this team -- and I have since I was too young to know better -- joy, like life itself, is only a temporary condition. There is a dark side to every sun-soaked Giants memory; in San Francisco, the other shoe will always drop. Recalling Mike Krukow gutting out a complete game victory in Game 4 of the 1987 NLCS will always be coupled with the sickening memory of Jose Oquendo launching a three-run home run off Atlee Frickin' Hammaker in Game 7. Fond Memories of Will Clark hitting over .600 two years later to drown out the Cubs will always be tempered by the team essentially walking into the propeller vs. the A's -- and, you know, the Bay Bridge falling down.

The unmitigated joy of the Giants' 103 wins in 1993 -- the year we all
thought they'd be in St. Petersburg -- is overshadowed by that
slow-motion, 12-1 loss to the Dodgers on the last day of the year.
Brian Johnson's 12th-inning home run against Los Angeles -- a moment
that actually left Giants fans feeling liberated, if that makes
sense -- enabled the team to lose in the post-season to the best
Florida assassins money could buy. We haven't even gotten to Barry Bonds'
superhuman years or the utterly disillusioning events of Oct. 26, 2002.
I think the point has been made. Boston may have had a legion of
ham-fisted writers bloviating about its "curse," and the Cubs have
played themselves into the century-old role of America's Lovable
Losers, but the Giants have long been a team that nourishes its fans on
mouthfuls of ash and pails of salt water.

With this team, hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

And yet the star-spangled bunting hanging off the red facade at Pac
Bell Park -- a baseball vessel so ethereally beautiful I had to walk
across the street and place my hands on its cool bricks just to make
sure it was real when I first saw it -- plays dangerous tricks on the

Perhaps hope is a good thing -- maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.

I hope Tim Lincecum's name is never mentioned in the same breath as Herb Score.
I hope Pablo Sandoval continues to treat National League pitching like
his bodily look-alike John Belushi treated doughnuts. I hope the grass
is as green as it has been in my dreams.

I hope.  

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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