Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Final Exorcism

Like most Giants fans, I continue to wander in the wilderness, unsure of how to handle the sudden reversal of a lifetime of misfortune. Part of our collective reality has always been this: we love a team that never wins it all. But now they have won it all, so how do we recalibrate?

My cousin Bob and I have concluded that the right answer is to sweep away the best in a tangible, real way. We will assemble a pile of baseball cards representing the players who helped build the Giants' 52 years of San Francisco failure, and perform a ritual burning.

So who makes the list. Stop it right there: Johnnie LeMaster is too easy. Besides, I was at Candlestick Park on the September day in 1975 when LeMaster joined an elite list, homering in his first major league at-bat. Sure, it was a blooper that kangaroo-hopped over the head of a hapless Dodger centerfielder named John Hale, but it was still exciting.

Anyway. Names have been flying back and forth. To make my list, a guy has to represent the sort of mediocrity that always seemed to drag the Giants down short of real success.

Guys like Rich Robertson. Pitched for the Giants between 1966 and 1971 and compiled a 13-14 record and a career 4.94 ERA. One year, they let him start a bunch of games and he responded by leading the league with 18 wild pitches. That's the kind of Giant I mean.

Don Mason. Frank Johnson. Steve Ontiveros. Jim Duffalo. David Green. Rennie Stennett. Sam McDowell. Ricky Ledee.

Some of these guys you've heard of. Others are obscure. Some represented wasted trades. Others were just guys who never quite made it.

Nothing personal here (in most cases). These are the ghosts of the Giants' past, and they must be exorcised so that we can complete our transformation.

Bob and I figure we'll stage our ceremony in the windy parking lot at Candlestick Park. True to the ancient tradition, the crowd should be small and well-protected against the weather.

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