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.