It is the day, I'm afraid. More like I'm afraid of the day. Why? It's an extended psycho drama I'm caught up in; Giants are in the World Series and I can't enjoy it--way too seized up in childhood memories of failed Giants teams; the '62 World Series when I came home to see Chuck Hiller's blast up the middle speared by Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson and the boys go down in seven; 2002--I was in Pac Bell Park for Game 5 with my reluctant brother who I had to persuade to join me in the park because he wanted more tickets so he could bring his family (I was only able to get 2 freebies from my Fox friends...sorry Phil). The Giants won that Game 5, and Game 6 I'm with my friend Jim at Angels Stadium, Giants manager Dusty Baker gives the hook to Russ Ortiz when the Giants right-hander surrendered a walk and a hit, something harmless in the 7th, and the Angels never looked back. Angels win the Series in 7.
So I'm anxious on this Dia De Los Muertos, this Halloween.
Candy packages await, but will the kids even come tonight? Who knows? I'll be in hiding somewhere in a movie theater, submerging my Giants soul because I'm up all night reliving last night's nightmare.
What is with the angst?
My teams never win. Almost never. I don't count Joe Montana and the 49ers run in the 80s--I know, I should. I spent summers on the sidelines of the Niners training camp in Moraga shagging balls and getting autographs, the smell of new-mown grass and the slam-thud of practice pads and defenses yelling 'Draw, Draw'. But somehow, the Niners seemed destined, finally. One game playoffs, one Super Bowl after another, a one-and-done scenario doesn't wring out the emotions as a 7 game series does.
California's Golden Bears will never get to a Rose Bowl that I can see in my lifetime, and time's running out. My lifetime? Possibly. Now with the Pac 10-to-12 getting larger with two new teams and a north-south configuration, a Championship Game, the Bears will be lost in the pile of mid-conference teams squeaking out a mid-level bowl game. Roses? Not a sniff of a Lincoln in sight.
I get up, have coffee, read the headlines--'March To Restore Fear'--I live it every day this week and more days are on the way. Cruising neighborhoods after breakfast, they are out, the goblins and the spirits parading to church events celebrating the dead, Los Muertos, the spirits in my head that flutter in my gut. Inseparable as the maple syrup I pour on my pancakes, the cream in my coffee, the spirits of season's past race my pulse as surely as I disappear tonight when the first pitch rolls around, and I shake off the signs of the game and hide behind a wall of fear like a pitcher blinking at the catcher until he puts down the right number of fingers.
Anxiety maxes out around 3:30 AM for me, sweaty sheets and head-popping blood pressure pounding me awake when the demons fly the night and take my Giant-loving dignity down into the cave of demoralization.
Way too invested, as they say.
Way too much of my creative energy wasted in this sporting enterprise of over-priced ballplayers and free-agent radicals called up to play one season at a bargain price, pitch to one batter, claim someone off waivers to prevent him going to another team. No relation at all to the teams of my youth, I'm held captive to the ghosts of teams past, and they rock me at night with a toll of terror.
Analyze this dread of the dead too closely, I know what I'll find. The real fear isn't of the Giants, the Cal Bears, or any sporting team.
Keep writing, stay focused, stay in touch. . .foul off that 3-2 pitch, stay alive.
Keep within striking distance, listen to those I trust.
Stay in the game.
Don't be afraid to fail.
Don't be afraid to succeed.