Waking Up From A Dream
I REALLY HAVEN’T WRITTEN MUCH ABOUT MY SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS LATELY. There is a good reason – they are not having a good year. No, it’s worse than that – they are stinking up the joint.
For the first time since the 1980s they have a chance to lose 100 games this season. That hurts.
I remember going out to games at the old Candlestick Park and watching them lose day after day. It was not easy to be a witness to that. Since then they have had some glorious years – winning three World Series rings in a three year period. But that was then and this is now.
Part of the problem is that the team is getting old – old by Baseball standards. There are very few players who can claim to have their best years after the age of thirty. It’s just Nature and the incredible stresses on the human body that professional athletes endure. The Giants prime players are getting up there in years. For many their best playing days are behind them. In some cases it can be painful to watch.
It makes me wince to see a pitcher who has been with the team for a dozen years struggle to get the ball over the plate. Imagine the heartache of going from being the Ace of the pitching staff and enduring a slide into becoming a player who just can’t get anyone out. In The Game he is a Senior Citizen while the rest of the world sees him as a man just entering his mid-thirties, still young and vital. Perhaps he will make a good pitching coach, but his time on the mound is over. It was over two or three years ago, but misplaced loyalty and the inability to face a bitter reality, kept him going out there and being shelled by opposing batters.
The Giants have some fine young players who might go on and blossom into the Stars of tomorrow, but that won’t happen unless they get the chance to play every day – either with the Giants or elsewhere.
Baseball is a cruel mistress. It demands everything from a player. It needs both a physical and a mental dedication from the athlete, but promises nothing in return. Any player, no matter how skilled or talented, can give everything to The Game only to have a stray pitch, or an injured knee bring the dream of a lucrative and glory bound career to a screeching halt. The dream is just that, a dream that rarely survives the waking up. I heard one of the Giants broadcasters discussing this very thing the other day. He said that, of all the young players who get so far as a spot in the Minor Leagues, only ONE PERCENT ever make it to The Show – The Majors.
One Percent – and yet the dream persists and is born anew every Spring when a youngster picks up a ball or a bat and sees themselves in the bottom of the ninth inning holding the game in their hands.
The Dream is strong and right now it is what has put my Giants in the unenviable position of having players who still see themselves as those youngsters on the sandlot when reality is trying to push them off the field to allow the next generation to step up to the plate.
It is never pretty. It is always painful. It is inevitable for every team.
Right now it is the Giants’ turn.
I love this post, John.
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Thank you very much. No matter how many games they win I still wear my Giants cap every day.
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Well, that’s a true fan. Good for you, John.