The Very Last Baseball Game of the Season

 

AT&T Park - October 23, 2014

I took this picture last week. It looks pretty. I wanted to share it.

The baseball season is going to end tonight. It’s World Series game 7, the absolute last game that can be played. My favorite baseball team is playing in this game. It’s exciting. It’s also pretty terrifying. I don’t really know what to do with myself. I’m having a lot of feelings today. As I try to stop myself from drinking another cup of coffee, I decided to write about my feelings. That should keep me away from the caffeine for, oh, a few minutes at least.

(I’ve also been absolutely terrible about posting new baseball photos this season, so this is an excuse to post a few. That will also add another couple of minutes to the time it takes to write this post and keep me away from the caffeine.)

Giants Home Opener

This feels like yesterday and a zillion years ago all at the same time.

It doesn’t feel like that long ago I was sitting in row 18, somewhere in the vicinity behind home plate, watching the Giants’ home opener with my dad. The weather was perfect. Bat Kid was there. Tim Hudson started the game and was awesome. The Giants took an early lead and didn’t look back. It was a great day. I remember thinking it was a positive way to start the season. I had no idea how insane this season would actually get.

AT&T Park Rainbow

The remainders of a rainbow over AT&T Park. FUN FACT: The Giants had three Brandons on their team when this was taken.

I went to a few Tim Hudson starts this season. They were usually pretty awesome. As I’m pretty sure I said before, I’d seen Tim Hudson pitch in person before, but it was awesome to finally be able to pull for him because he was pitching for the team I was rooting for instead of against them.

Tim Hudson

FUN FACT: I’m pretty sure I coughed an actual lung up at this game. That’s my main memory besides the rainbow and the Giants winning. You needed to know this.

This has been a really crazy season. The Giants were insanely good for the first two months of the season. They looked unstoppable even. They hit lots of home runs. (WHAT?!) They won what felt like a zillion games. They had a huge division lead. They had three Brandons. Tim Lincecum had a mustache. (RIP Lincecum’s mustache. You will live on forever on the plaque commemorating Tim’s second no-hitter out on the portwalk.)

Brandon Hicks

The long lost third Brandon. FUN FACT: He hit a walk-off home run at this game.

The Giants had a huge division lead over the Dodgers at the beginning of June. That was pretty neat. A bunch of things were written about the NL West division race being over. In June. Yeah, I know. The baseball gods don’t like things like that. Things like that make me really nervous. Lots of baseball-related things make me nervous. I am not at all superstitious, except I totally am. Despite that, things were looking up.

Tim Hudson and Michael Morse

I am posting lots of Tim Hudson photos today for a reason.

Then the baseball gods said, “LOL NO!” and things went downhill very fast.

Hunter Pence

I just found this while I was looking for Tim Hudson photos. I call it THROWING WITHOUT AN ELBOW.

The Giants didn’t win any games for two months. Or at least it felt that way. It felt like I woke up one morning, sneezed, and the Giants’ division lead completely disappeared. The Giants lost Angel Pagan. They lost Brandon Belt. They lost Matt Cain. (I miss you, MATT CAIN.) The mythical third Brandon stopped hitting home runs. The magic pixie dust the Giants had been sprinkled with for the first two months of the season was completely gone. Things got so bad the Giants actually resorted to using Dan Uggla for a week. (Yeah, that really happened.) SUPER DARK TIMES.

Tim Hudson

I think this photo might be from the only game the Giants won over a two month span. Not sure though.

Baseball is weird though. Sure, it felt like the Giants would never win another game ever again all July. Sure, it felt like that great start to the season would all go for naught. But then the Giants started winning again. They were in a race for a wild card spot and sort of kind of even the division. Of course it would have been easier had they not blown their huge division lead in June, but clearly this made things way more interesting, right? Right? (Just nod your head with me here.)

Madison Bumgarner

Remember when Madison Bumgarner hit his second grand slam of the year? That was neat.

To be honest, I didn’t know how to feel when the Giants finally clinched their wild card spot. Happy they were in the playoffs? Slightly disappointed that it was a wild card spot instead of the division like we all hoped it would be? Absolutely terrified at the thought of a one game playoff in Pittsburgh? At least the Giants were in the playoffs. Or a playoff.

Every season I’ve made it a little tradition of going to the first home game and last home game of the regular season, but this year on the last weekend of the season I found myself in Kansas for my grandfather’s funeral. It was kind of a surreal experience flying past AT&T Park on that last Saturday of the season, wondering if there would be anymore baseball there after that weekend. I listened to part of the game on the last Sunday in a motel room in Great Bend while eating a Blizzard from Dairy Queen (Blizzards from Dairy Queen were a tradition on every Kansas trip when I was a kid) and followed the end of it on my phone while in the car on the way to my grandfather’s wake. The whole thing felt like it wasn’t really happening. (This is a recurring theme for the last, oh, month or so.) I didn’t have audio, so I didn’t hear Hunter Pence’s speech until later. But I had a similar hope. I wanted at least one more game in San Francisco this year. I wanted more baseball when I got back.

Hunter Pence

All hail our alien overlord.

And then things got really crazy. The Giants beat the Pirates convincingly in the wild card game. They won they crazy 18-inning game against the Nationals. They moved on to the NLCS. They won a game on an error (walk-off bunt!). And in game 5, Travis Ishikawa hit that walk-off home run that still gives me ALL THE FEELINGS whenever I think about it. For the third time in the last five years, the Giants are in the World Series. It’s game 7 of the World Series tonight, and it still hasn’t quite sunk in that the Giants are in the World Series again. This is insane. This whole last month of baseball has been insane. The Giants are playing in game 7 of the World Series, just as we all expected back in July when it felt like they’d never win another game again.

Pablo Sandoval

#KeepPanda #PayPandaAllTheMoney

It only seems fitting that the two wild card teams are the ones playing in the final game of the World Series. Tonight will be a one game playoff for the World Series title. It also seems fitting that the Giants have Tim Hudson starting for them. Tim Hudson, who hadn’t had a chance to pitch past the division series in the playoffs before, has a chance to be a huge part in hopefully helping the Giants win another ring (and his first ring!). Baseball storylines are neat.

Buster Posey

DAT SWING

It was about a month ago that I was sitting in a car somewhere between Great Bend and Ellsworth, Kansas, hoping that the Giants would get to play at least one more game in San Francisco. They gave us so many more games than that. It’s been a wild roller coaster ride this season (that mega drop in June and July was a doozy), and I’m so grateful that we got to keep the ride going through October. All of October. No matter what happens tonight, it’s been a fun season. I’ve loved following this Giants team. It’s been fun watching Madison Bumgarner, the ace. I’ve loved watching the rookies like Joe Panik and Andrew Susac and Matt Duffy come up and contribute. We got to see Tim Lincecum and his mustache throw a second no-hitter this year. And we’ve been lucky enough to watch Hunter Pence play his very special brand of baseball every single day.

Postgame

WIN TODAY

Just win one more game today, Giants. One more.

In the words of the legendary Jessie Spano, “I’m so excited. I’m so excited. I’m so … so … scared.”

Go Giants.

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