A friend broached the question to me just the other day about sports fandom.
“Can you be fan of both the A’s and the Giants?” asked Tony.
Sure, why not?
Tony, who grew up in San Francisco, is obviously a Giants fan. Yet he also supports the cross-bay rival Oakland A’s.
The opposite applies to me. We both grew up in the era where it was OK to root for both Major League teams. That was before things became convoluted by interleague play and territorial rights.
These days you see very few of those half A’s, half SF logo baseball caps.
As I see it, we’re quite fortunate to live in an area with regional ties to the National League and American League.
Only a handful of the greater metropolitan areas can make that boast.
New York claims the Yankees and Mets. Los Angeles has the Dodgers and Angels. Ditto that for Chicago with the Cubs and White Sox. And, more recently, Baltimore-Washington DC as home to the Orioles and Nationals, respectively.
Tony mentioned that his friend is a Yankee fan. She despises the Mets. The same can be said about Met fans to their neighbors in the Bronx.
Of course, there’s certainly no love-loss between fans of the White Sox and the Cubs.
This baseball season has been a great one for many of us in this neck of the woods. We were thrilled with the A’s improbable run towards an AL West crown.
The Giants have roared back to make win their second World Series in three years. Barry Zito, who, two years ago, was left off San Francisco’s post season roster, emerged as the unlikely hero in that memorable Game 5 of the NL Championship Series.
The crafty southpaw not only stymied the Cardinals on the mound, but also did it with the bat. Zito surprised us all by dropping down a run-scoring single to further help his cause.
From there, the momentum swung in favor of the Giants, who went on to win the next two games at home while punching their ticket to the World Series.
I’ve enjoyed this run by SF because of Zito, a former A’s ace. Up until now, he took a pounding from fans after failing to live up to expectations after signing a hefty long-term contract.
His fortitude to turn things around was reminiscent of comebacks by other sports figures. Jim Plunkett and Doug Williams come to mind. Both NFL quarterbacks had careers that were left for dead only to bounce back with Super Bowl victories.
Zito, meanwhile, continued his postseason excellence with a Game 1 victory over the Tigers. He delivered again with the bat with an RBI single against Justin Verlander, who is arguably the most dominant hurler in the game.
As fans, we enjoy seeing history in the making. In the same game, Pablo Sandoval gave us that moment by blasting three homeruns at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
Albert Pujols accomplished the same feat for the Cards a year ago in Game 3 against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
The legendary Babe Ruth was the first to perform the longball hat-trick for the Yankees many moons ago. Of course, I still remember Reggie Jackson rising to become Mr. October by delivering three jacks – on three consecutive pitches – at old Yankees Stadium against the Dodgers.
Moments like these become etched in your memory.
I hope to look back in, say, 10 years and recall this past week’s moment in time.
That’s why we love our sports.