Playoffs

It’s that time of year again, but honestly, I still am not over last year’s Golden State Warriors’ collapse and loss to the Cavaliers – I’ve never been this invested in a team before, maybe because I’ve only had to root for those teams without living in those cities. We’ve been blessed to have been given an opportunity to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a bustling sports scene – two baseball teams (Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants), two football teams (Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers), one basketball team (Golden State Warriors) one hockey team (San Jose Sharks) and a soccer team (San Jose Earthquakes).

2016 was tough on our teams – Warriors and Sharks lost their finals series, the Giants magical run of winning the World Series every even year since 2010 ended with a loss to eventual champion Chicago Cubs. The 49ers hit rock bottom and the Raiders lost their franchise QB to a broken leg two weeks before the NFL post season started and lost in their first playoff game without the leader that helped take them there.

Anyway, I guess it’s just time to buckle down and enjoy the playoffs – our home team is enjoying an unprecedentedly successful three year run, and hopefully this year will end on the highest of high notes.

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It’s a new year.

2016 had it’s share of ups and downs. Some of us had it good. Most of us had it bad.

Nothing really changes at the turn of the year. Mostly the same, the morning after New Year’s Eve. Nothing dramatic. Nothing ground breaking.

But that isn’t what the new year is about.

It’s about hope. Every new year brings about hope that things will get better. Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. Some of us don’t bother with hope. A lot of us drinks it in vociferously, mostly because it’s free.

We lost a lot of people. A lot of things. Some of us found faith. A lot of us stopped believing.

2017 may or may not be much different. But I highly doubt it’ll be exactly the same. So there’s no shame in hoping.

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“To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due.” – Hob Gadling to Morpheus in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Vol. 4 – Season of Mists

Sides of a Coin

It’s 11:22PM. It’s been two hours since I’ve witnessed an epic meltdown of the 2016 San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the NLDS, something I knew was coming but I guess I wasn’t prepared to accept until it really happened.

I’ll try not to make this sound like a eulogy for this year’s Giants team. I’ll try not to second guess all that went down in the loss. Instead, I’ll look at the positives and try to picture what this team should look forward to next season.

The Giants had three successful runs this decade, all on even years. The last one that came in 2014 – we had no business winning that, but we did, coming from the NL wild card spot. Since 2016 was an even year, a lot of us were relying on that same magic that put them over the top two years ago. Quick reality check – magic, most people would say, isn’t real. In my opinion, magic exists in those hearts and minds that believe in it. With the Giants losing this year, everyone will say that our share of magic ran out. But I disagree.

We swept the Dodgers at home on the last three games of the year to book a playoff spot, after a difficult second half of the year post All-Star Break. The first half of the year could have been easily as bad as the second half, as we won more close games at that point than any other team in the big league, so it can be said that it took a lot of magic to pull out those close ones. We had magical games from Matt Moore in that near no-hitter in Los Angeles and in the 8-inning 2-hit, 2-run gem in Game 4 of the 2016 NLDS. We had Conor Gillaspie’s magical hot streak, saving our team in two critical games to keep the October dream alive – coming out of nowhere, in true Giant postseason tradition of obscure fringe rotation players rising to the occasion.

So this year, it’s over. No, the magic didn’t run out. Simply put, other teams might be due their time in the spotlight. The coin just landed on the other side, one that we did not hedge our hopes it would land on. And winning won’t mean anything at all, if we have not felt, at one point or another, the pain of losing.

And that is the difference, because winning can easily be taken for granted. It’s much tougher to take the stench off of a loss – but it can be transformative – some uses it as a chip on their shoulder, the others a reminder to drive them to go faster, push harder and scratch or claw deeper next time.

And like a coin, when you love sports, it’s only one or the other – a win or a loss. No matter how much you prepare yourself for the outcome, you’re never really ready to face it. And that’s the beauty of it – the joys of celebration or the pain of defeat can never be scripted – you’ll never know what to feel until you are in that moment.

So thank you, 2016 San Francisco Giants. Keep flipping the coin. We’ll be there every time.

California Capital Airshow

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The B-29 Superfort taking off from Mather Airfield.

After I first watched Top Gun, I wanted to be a pilot. I was maybe 11 or 12 when I first saw it, and after seeing the movie, all I drew was the F-14 and aircraft carriers. I didn’t feel cool enough to take Maverick, Goose or Iceman’s callsigns, so I took Hollywood, though later in life I’d pick Iceman (different reason, and F1 related)

On Saturday I went to my first airshow. It was an attempt to see the Blue Angels perform aerial feats in person, but alas they were grounded due to flight surgeon finding one of the pilots unfit for flight.

Still, we were treated to quite a bit of aerial performances but the best part for me was the Pacific War era planes flying around and parading these historic planes to represent those that came home from the war and those that didn’t.

They rolled out a lot of vintage WWII planes  – a pair of P-40s and P-51s, an F4U Corsair, an SBD Dauntless dive bomber, a P-38, a Navy B-25 Mitchell and a B-29 bomber. They also had a Zero fighter and a Val dive bomber, representing the planes of the Japanese imperial air force, the primary foes of the USAF and Navy during the Pacific war – all airplanes that I have only read about and seen in photos, and visualized in my imagination.

An F/A-18 Hornet from the Canadian Air Force and an F-16 Fighting Falcon also performed some high speed passes, wowing the crowds with their speed and agility.

The Golden Knights of the US Army also performed high altitude jumps, and a few other corporate-sponsored flights were made with highly skilled pilots performing high G dives, rolls and twists.

It was quite an experience for someone who dreamed of being a pilot once, and World War II naval and aviation history buff! With Fleet Week 2016 coming up this weekend, am looking forward to seeing more of these historic planes and ships in San Francisco!

On Change

Real change is what we do differently from what we used to do. We can’t keep saying change is coming. It only means that there is no change at all. External influences or events shouldn’t drive change – they are only catalysts. Real change happens when we actually change.

a head full of dreams and a heart full of love

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we bought tickets six months early. i wasn’t a big fan of the new record when it came out, and didn’t really give it much of a chance until i saw the super bowl halftime show.

i knew coldplay would be a great show based on what i heard on leftrightleftrightleft and the numerous viewings of their headline performances at Glastonbury, but i didn’t realize how much of a fan pleaser they are until i saw them live.

they performed the old stuff – the things that’ll break your heart, jump in sheer glee, wallow in hurt and pain – a musical roller coaster ride, of blinking lights, colors and fireworks streaking up the Santa Clara night sky.

the only let down was them not playing army of one – the beat, the words – it got to me much like Fix You or In My Place did – in a way where i can just break out in goose bumps or well my eyes up with tears.

when i got my wish – listening to Fix You live, i imagined months before the show that i’d probably be an emotional wreck – recalling all those moments when i had nothing but this song to count on to know exactly how i felt during the times that i turned to it for comfort and solace (shamelessly taking that line from KSE)

the rest of the night was a celebration – of dreams coming true. of wishing that the world was what we dreamed of to be. of love. of overcoming all that got in the way of love. of realizing the bitter truth that we are also part of what is wrong with the world. of realizing, at the same moment, that we are also the only capable ones of healing what is wrong with the world. of remembering where we were years ago and where we are now, and knowing the differences of feelings between then and now.

the realities of today’s world need more than music and love to get everything right, but we have, at the very least, a good starting point – a head full of dreams and a heart full of love.