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Giants nail passion from longtime fans

Inside the Fishbowl
By: Deric Rothe Journal editor
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Rooting for the San Francisco Giants has been a Rothe family tradition since I was a small child. My great uncle managed the Candlestick Park parking lot when I was a boy and we had access that others might envy. Willie Mays was my favorite player and I still treasure his baseball cards. For five decades, like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic strip, I have hoped, dreamed and wished for a Giants World Championship. It’s never happened in my lifetime. This year announcer Duane Kuiper coined the phrase “Giants baseball — it’s torture.” I love listening to Kruk and Kuip, but it has been torture for decades. It didn’t start that way. My grandparents were huge Giants fans and lived in Daly City, where my grandfather managed Westlake Shopping center. I would go and stay with them, bring a friend and we would attend Giants games. That was a summer tradition. It did not matter too much if they won or lost. It was great to watch baseball by the bay, an experience that enjoined generations. Somewhere along the line winning became more and more important. I remember my sister once telling me that I had to stop living my life with the ups and downs of the Giants. She observed that when they won I was happy, and when they lost not so much. What ended up happening isn’t what you’d think. I did not grow up and heed the wisdom of her words. Instead, she became a big-time Giants fan. I took my future wife to the Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals playoff game 5 in 1987 at Candlestick Park. Jeffrey “Hack Man” Leonard, now of Rocklin and a pretty good bowler, hit his third home run of the series, and the Giants went up 3 games to 2. We cheered for the Giants in a section of the stadium filled with visiting Cardinal fans. But Jose Oquendo hit a three-run bomb and the Cardinals won game 7 in St. Louis, taking us from the edge of ecstasy, to the pit of agony, in a tortuous two-day period. Our family has continued to follow the Giants since our three daughters were born. My sister and brother-in-law, attorneys from San Luis Obispo, have had season tickets at AT&T Park since it opened in 2000 and have been very generous. My two younger daughters, now 16 and 18, had butts so small when they first started going to games that they very comfortably sat side by side in one seat. There are too many games to remember and great times had by all, win or lose. A hot dog, a beer, visiting San Francisco, my favorite city in the world and the place where I was born … it’s all good. But I will never forget the heartache that was game 6 of the 2002 World Series. The Giants were cruising with a 5-0 lead and then Dusty Baker pulled pitcher Russ Ortiz. I had tears in my eyes as I watched the game with my family in the upstairs game room of our Auburn home, a room covered with Giants memorabilia. But then those tears of joy turned to a knife in the back when the Giants gave it up, losing that game and the next to the Angels. Flash forward to 2010. I seldom miss a game either on radio, television or in-person. I went to all three home playoff games against the Phillies with friends and family last week. Our Auburn home was thumping with screams of excitement last Saturday when the Giants clinched against the Phillies as Ryan Howard took a called strike 3 to end it. Wednesday, we watched game 1 of the World Series, with Giants ace Tim Lincecum on the mound. I admit to regularly screaming at the TV. Our bulldogs do not know what to make of it. Journal Publisher Tony Hazarian tried to explain to me that it’s not just about winning the World Series — it’s about the journey. Theoretically, I agree. But like my sister, when we attended playoff game 4 against the Phillies last week, Hazarian was jumping up and down and screaming with the other 45,000-plus fans when the Giants pulled off a come-from-behind victory. The Giants are contagious. Where is all this leading? I don’t know, but my mother died this summer and she was a Giants fan. In the last game I attended with her at AT&T Park, Pablo Sandoval hit a ninth-inning walk-off home run to win it. I didn’t know then that she had cancer. I feel my mom watching over me. I also think this is The Year for the Giants. I’ll do my best to keep a straight face if they lose, but I‘d sure rather see a victory parade. The line between pleasure and pain is drawn with chalk for Giants fans.