San Francisco parties on in Giants' World Series afterglow
SAN FRANCISCO -- Late on Friday afternoon, as the sun moved West and the breeze whipped the brand-new orange "2010 World Champions" banner in the wind, word came that two miles away the jury in the Barry Bonds trial was sent home and would reconvene on Monday.
So that wasn't going to ruin the party.
A few innings later the poster child for the Giants 2010 insouciance, Brian Wilson, blew the day's script and the save, angrily relinquishing the lead to the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth.
But that wasn't going to ruin the party either.
Finally, in the 12th inning, the Giants pulled out the win. But even if they had lost, this weekend would be one of celebration, not hand wringing. Because nothing can ruin this party. Not a verdict out of an uglier past. Not the St. Louis Cardinals. Not the Giants' staggering 2-4 start to the season coming into the home opener.
In other cities, fans may be full of angst, even a twinge of panic, about their baseball teams. Take Boston, for example, where the worst start since 1945 -- before a much-needed win on Friday -- has the populace refilling their Prozac prescriptions. Or in St. Louis where Tony La Russa went off on the media after Game 6 -- an early season record for even a legendary hothead -- for questioning his team's hitting.
Other cities can freak out. But the Giants are still surfing a bliss wave, and it is going to take more than a rough week or a blown save to disrupt them. Friday, the World Series banner was raised. Saturday, the players get their World Series rings. Sunday, Buster Posey will be presented with his Rookie of the Year award. Monday, the Dodgers come to town.
Sure, there are baseball games to be won or lost. But there's also an ongoing party. It's up to the players to stay focused, because the fans are simply happy. Still amazed that the Giants won their first World Series since moving to San Francisco.
"We all know that this is a new 162," Wilson said. "That we had our time to bask in the glory during the parade and the offseason. We understand the amount of work that went into winning the World Series. We have to work just as hard because people are gunning for us."
Giants fans packed AT&T Park on Friday for the first time since Game 2 of the World Series on Oct. 28. And the party atmosphere picked up right where it left off that night, when the Giants exited for Texas with a 2-0 lead. For five months since -- particularly at the massive parade on Nov. 3 -- it's been a black-and-orange lovefest in San Francisco.
For years the Giants have staged long, involved celebrations to honor their past, teams that almost won it all. Now that they finally have a World Series to commemorate, the organization is going to milk it for all its worth.
On Friday there was a short concert by Train -- who played "Save Me San Francisco" while the Cardinals, introduced before the music, awkwardly stood on the first base line and watched. The Giants came through the centerfield fence and during their player introductions, the fans went wild. Before Tim Lincecum was announced the ovation was so loud, his name was drowned out, and a grin broke over the pitcher's face.
The ball from the final out of the World Series was presented to a fan who had been a season-ticket holder since the team arrived in 1958. Postseason awards were presented. And there was a sobering moment of reflection for Bryan Stow, who was beaten by Dodgers fans in Los Angeles and remains in the hospital in critical condition.
Giants legend Willie Mays presented the championship banner to manager Bruce Bochy who passed it down the line of players. When it reached Wilson, he took off running across centerfield, ("I wondered what my form would look like,"), then climbed through the stands to the flagpole in right-center field and helped raise the flag as "We Are the Champions" played.
"I had a guy telling me to slow down, speed up," Wilson said. "I can't hear the music. What am I doing? It was pretty cool. I think I did it in elementary school before the Pledge of Allegiance. When I was 8 I might have done that.
"This is a different moment."
The game, when it finally started, was a roller-coaster ride reminiscent of the Giants' 2010 season, when nothing came easy and the team motto was "Torture." Down early, the Giants rallied to take a 3-2 lead into the ninth, but Wilson struggled. With two outs, he walked a batter, hit another one and gave up a two-run single to Ryan Theriot. When Bochy pulled him off the mound, Wilson yelled angrily at home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman.
"I was a little pissed," he said. "Emotions are flying. It's opening day. I got kind of hot there for a second. That's what happens. I vented, got it out of my system then sat downstairs and watched the Giants come back. They picked me up.
"I don't want [to] harp on the negative. The only negative thing was my ERA went to a billion, but I don't really care. It's a team game."
And the team rallied for the win in the 12th inning. With the bases loaded, unlikely hero Aaron Rowand drove the ball off the leftfield wall to score Nate Schierholtz and give the Giants a 5-4 win.
The crowd went wild. The party spilled out into the streets surrounding the ballpark. More reason to celebrate.
But at the end of the emotional day, at least someone was able to provide some perspective.
"It was fun," Posey said. "The fan reaction was special.
"But it was Game 7. It was just another game."