Not long ago (on October 6th, to be exact) I was lucky enough to be at Game 3 of the NLDS to root for my San Francisco Giants. Before the game, my brother and I were in the Giants Dugout store making our way through the throngs of people picking up, considering, then discarding all the NLDS merchandise that was available now that we’d made it into the divisional series against the Nationals after a some-say-unlikely wild-card win against the Pirates who seemingly had our number all season.
Many of us looked at the NLDS merch and set it back down again. There was a common theme among shoppers: “Eeeh. I’m going to wait until there’s something ELSE to buy.” “I don’t want to buy divisional stuff.” “Let’s wait, honey.” After so many fans set NLDS gear down in favor of standard Giants shirts and hats and jackets, a man behind me remarked loudly: “Giants fans are so spoiled. They don’t even want to by NLDS stuff because they want to go farther. NLCS. World Series. So spoiled. You should feel lucky to be here at all.”
I turned to him and said: “This is not because we are spoiled. This is because we have hope. Hope that we will get farther. A belief that we can do more than what is expected of us.” He smiled. Nodded. Seemed to get it.
And here we are: tonight at 5:07pm the San Francisco Giants play in Game 1 of the World Series.
My oh my aren’t we glad we didn’t settle for feeling lucky enough just to be in the NLDS? Aren’t we glad we thought we could do more? Aren’t we glad we hoped for greatness even in the face of so many injuries and challenges? In the face of all who said we couldn’t do it. Not this year. Not after falling so far back. Not after losing to the Dodgers 17-0 (I was lucky enough to be at that game and I’ll proudly wear that painful badge with pride). Not after facing the hardest path through a wild-card game.
As I’ve said all season: we just need one chance, one way to get into the dance. Once you’re there, it’s what you do with that chance. We beat the Pirates and two series later, we are at the series of all series.
I don’t need to draw all the obvious life parallels and lessons and cliche takeaways. You get the point. Hope is a powerful thing. Perseverance has magical powers. The collective rooting of fans for a team that is collectively giving it all they have is an honor to play a bit part in – no matter how bit it is. You can call it “just sports” or “just a game” and tell me none of it matters. But it does. All the lessons we learn here matter. Every last one of them. Never allow yourself to be counted out. Never settle for NLDS.
(Image via. David J. Phillip/AP)