Thank you for gathering to remember our dear friends, the 2016 San Francisco Giants. This team left us prematurely, with championship hopes and dreams, only to be dashed by the cruelty of baseball. These young men made us laugh, made us cry, had us standing on our feet, in one moment to curse them out, then the next moment for a standing ovation.
This team started coming together with the signings of Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto in late 2015. We made new friends with Denard Span, Gorkys Hernandez, & Cory Gearrin. And then some young bucks like Derek Law and Ty Blach came on to compliment the old guard lead by Buster Posey & Madison Bumgarner. We wept with the sudden loss of our good buddy Matt Duffy, but cheered the additions of Matt Moore, Eduardo Nunez & Will Smith (unfortuantely not this one). And even now, we mourn the departures of Roberto Kelly and Billy Hayes. We cannot blame these coaches for the failures of the team. Instead, we are all to blame.
Let’s face it, Giants fans: like the babies born into the 1%, we are very spoiled. After our San Francisco forefathers weathered through a 54 year drought, us whippersnappers were showered with 3 World Series trophies in 5 years. And the numerologists were predicting another championship run, with their even year and proclamations hashtags. Some called “BS” on #BeliEVEN, but others called it a prophecy. I was one of the believers, running into the sun with my blinders on, intentionally avoiding the problem areas of the bullpen and late-year struggling offense. We were planning a parade before we even got into October, we were so sure of this team.
This team started the year on a very hot streak, ending the first half of the season with the best record in the league. But the rest of the sport caught up to them, and our boys floundered in the second half. While we were blissfully ignorant of the reasons for the early success, we cried out to the baseball gods in agony during the second half, asking what we did wrong to invoke the wrath of these deities.
In late September, the team looked to right the ship. A last week hot streak helped the team eke into the playoffs, as the very last team to clinch one of those precious postseason spots. With that elation on October 2, we were getting sized for rings and asking our bosses for a personal day in early November. Like medieval monks, we chanted “Anything can happen in the playoffs,” using that mantra to convince ourselves that this team would (once again) overcome all odds and emerge as kings.
With “Anything can happen” we were right and wrong at the same time. In the Wild Card game, a castoff became a hero. During Game 1 of the NLDS, a quintessential pitcher’s duel reminiscent of Marichal and Spahn emerged, but with our team on the wrong end. Game 3 was another instant classic, this time for the nausea-inducing roller coaster ebbs and flows that have never been seen in a playoff game. And the final nail in the coffin didn’t just come in the last game, but in the last inning of the last game, one where the joy of victory was ruthlessly ripped from our hearts and taken into the darkness of the night. It was a fitting ending to an equally tumultuous year.
Now is the time to mourn, Giants fans. Our conquerors will continue on the path to glory, leaving our dreams in their wake. Some of us may be able to watch the rest of these contests, though many of this flock will need to abstain from baseball the rest of the year, the pain of the game still fresh in our spirits. We will return to our homes, our families, our jobs, looking to our other local teams to help us forget the summer. But we know the truth: like the heartbreak from a youthful romance, the 2016 World Series Championship is the one that got away. But unlike that breakup, they weren’t the problem… it was us.
Eventually, the days will turn into months, and the emotions will die down. The intensity of the anguish will diminish, and we will remember 2016 fondly. This team wasn’t perfect, but they did give us a lot of joy. 20 of the 30 MLB teams didn’t make the playoffs, so we will remember to be thankful for this opportunity.
Soon enough, spring training will begin, so our hopes for another season will be renewed. And, we, the fans of the Giants, will emerge from our hibernation, full of life and wonder. But unlike our baseball ancestors, we will create a new mythology. This team can win during the odd years. The spoiled sons and daughters of San Francisco demand it.