I've written about my mom and her contributions to my obsessive fandom before. Growing up, I never heard her talk about the World Series, and what it would be like to see Will Clark or Barry Bonds hold the trophy. She didn't talk about winning one for Roger Craig or Dusty Baker.
She talked about watching the parade.
That was the end game. A parade down Market Street. Ticker tape fluttering down. If they could do that part first, then figure out who won the whole playoff thing after, my mom would have been fine with that. So as a burgeoning baseball fan, a parade was just about the only thing that crossed my mind when I thought of a Giants championship in the distant future.
I couldn't go to the World Series parade in 2010. I had a chance to go to this one. If you're looking for poignant, I'm all out of poigs. This is more a series of notes; a live-blogging, if you will, a day after the fact.
Also of note: I hate crowds and people and crowds.
7:45 a.m. oh god this train is so crowded oh man this horrible get me off get me off
8:10 a.m. help this BART car is so crowded why does that man smell like poutine wait i hope that's poutine why do my eyes sting get me off get me off
8:50 a.m. The last parade had a million people. They're expecting as many, if not more, for this one. That meant train cars and BART cars packed like I've never seen them. The train can't start because there were people stuck between closing doors, half on the train and half off, trying to push their way on. It was a mob scene. It's a relief to get off and take in the fresh air of downtown San Francisco. If you've ever smelled the fresh air of downtown San Francisco, you'll know what an extreme statement that is.
9:16 a.m. Because I'm a world-famous blogger, I get to go in the media corral. Also, there is a media corral. If you remember the movie Brain Candy, you might know the "This is the real party" gag. It was like that. The media corral is not the real party; it's a small rectangular area at the end of the staging area, which is the beginning of the parade. The real media is working inside the staging area, getting on-camera interviews, while the media corral was sparsely populated with goofs like me. I think there's an About.com author next to me working on an article about parade-planning.
10:04 a.m. The parade starts at 11:30. The players are in their convertibles, ready to go, at around 10:00. That's a lot of waiting, and there are a lot of people around, asking for pictures and autographs.
The players look tired. This is the exit interview, the debriefing after a long, long season, and it's the straw that's giving the camel a moderate backache. There's honest excitement in some of the players' eyes, don't get me wrong. But event staff, police officers, and a stream of people-who-know-people are constantly approaching them, asking for pictures and autographs. People on the other side of the barricade are chucking hats and shirts at the players, hoping they'll sign and throw them back.
10:21 a.m. One guy yells, "RYAN VOGELSONG! SHOW ME THE SLIDER. SHOW ME THE SLIDER!" for 15 minutes. I have no idea what Vogelsong is supposed to do -- maybe hold up two fingers, approximating the grip of a slider? Vogelsong doesn't know either. The guy assumes that the problem isn't with the odd request but with the volume of his request. He gets louder.
10:42 a.m. The player enjoying this the most: Marco Scutaro. He's with his wife and his three kids, and the enthusiasm of the kids is infectious. They're taking as many pictures as anyone. Barry Zito is looking dapper, and he's enjoying this too. For six years, his name was loaded with a very different connotation than it has right now. The last parade -- for a championship won without him on the roster -- must have been painfully awkward for him. This one wouldn't have happened without him pitching well.
10:54 a.m. Boy, this is all really interesting to me, but it sure isn't interesting to anyone else, I'd gather. Maybe I should offer some tidbits: Brian Wilson has this tattooed on his right calf, which makes for a tattoo that's about five times as cool as anything I would have guessed. Pablo Sandoval can whistle really, really loudly. Eli Whiteside wore a combination Giants/Grateful Dead shirt. Sergio Romo rocked an "I just look illegal" shirt, and he likes Kettle Chips. Buster Posey smells like the American flag. That last one is a guess, but I almost got close enough. The burden of proof is on you if you don't believe it.
11:28 a.m. "BARRY. BARRY. SHOW ME THE CURVEBALL. SHOW ME THE CURVEBALL."
11:44 a.m. The parade starts.
Players and other people associated with the team ride by in their cars, waving at the crowd.
Everyone in the crowd is screaming like they're seeing the Beatles land at JFK.
The last of the players goes by.
There you go.
Really, that's what the whole thing is. It's hours of traveling, preparation, jostling for position, staking out an area, and waiting. If you're lucky enough to be in the first row against the barricade, you get to see the players, coaches, owners, front-office types, and announcers drive by and wave. If you're one of the people from rows two through 17, you don't see a thing.
If the Royals make the playoffs one of these years, I'll root like crazy for them. I'll watch every playoff game, and if they win the whole thing, I'll be beyond happy for them. But you couldn't pay me to watch the Royals parade through Kansas City. What's interesting about a parade to a fan of that team is exactly what makes it uninteresting to the rest of the world. It's about the specific players that you've spent 500 hours with that year, and it's about a celebration of them in your city. It's part personal validation for picking the right team (though you probably didn't have a choice), part celebration of something that doesn't come around every year, part civic pride, and part it might not ever happen again.
The people who didn't see a thing weren't disappointed. It was about screaming yourself hoarse during a celebration that might not come around again for a decade or ten.
I can't stand crowds or people, and I'm also bad with crowds. But my mom's decades-long indoctrination made the parade a necessary part of the playoff run. And after writing all of these words, I realize how completely uninteresting this must be to non-Giants fans. Which I guess is the point of a championship parade. I thought there'd be something interesting for a general audience, but nope.
Sorry about that.
To make up for it, here's a picture of Hunter Pence making a Hunter Pence face.
That probably didn't help much.
Conclusion: If you've never been in the middle of a million people screaming nice things at Barry Zito, you've never lived.