Throughout my youth, the Giants never really stepped up as one of the top teams. Throughout the 70s and early 80s the stories I most recall about the Giants were the almost move to Tampa and Joe Morgan hitting a homer to knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs in 1982. As I recall the Dodgers beat the Giants the day before to knock them out of the race but we, as Giants fans, were just happy to punish the Dodgers. I still loved my team but resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn't see a World Series win in my lifetime.
Then came the late 80s with the arrival of Will Clark, Robby Thompson, Kevin Mitchell and the Giants contended for a stretch. Even made the playoffs. Hopes were high but in reality, I felt happy that my team was even in the discussion and in contention. Those were some of my favorite times as a Giants fan and I get tons of joy even today adding a new Rod Beck or Kirt Manwaring card as it takes me back to some of my favorite times as a Giants fan.
Let's move into the 90s and early 2000s with the arrival of Barry Bonds. I still remember the shock I felt the day the Barry Bonds signing was announced. The Giants weren't even in the conversation and then all of the sudden, they signed the best player in baseball. I think it is impossible to argue that Bonds was the best player in baseball for a long stretch, perhaps even the best player in the history of the game. There were games when he only got 1-2 pitches that were even hittable and would typically wait and wait the hit the heck out of the only good pitch he would see. We could argue how significant of an impact the performance enhancers had on his numbers but there is no denying his impact during the peak of his career.
With the arrival and investment in Bonds, expectations became higher. Not just for the team but for the fans as well. Being in contention was not good enough, we wanted and expected to win. The closest we came was in 2002 when we made it to the World Series against the Angels. We were a few outs away from closing it out. Some think that Dusty Baker jinxed it by giving Russ Ortiz the game ball when he took him out with the lead. When we blew the World Series, I just felt it was the torture I was saddle with for life for growing up and loving the Giants.
To make matters worse, I moved to Orange County, not far from Angels Stadium in 2001 so not only did I live amongst a bunch of fair weathered Angels fans, I was constantly reminded of the Giants failure every time I wore a Giants hat or shirt. The worst part was going to a game at Angels Stadium and having to sit through the awful pregame video of the stupid rally monkey and the Angles beating the Giants - they still play the video today. Every time that monkey came on the screen I would get flashbacks to how close we were to having our own World Series.
I ended up trying to be in the bathroom or at a refreshment stand when the video came on and avoided anything that had to do with the World Series of 2002. A card like this recent addition to my collection would have been avoided at all costs.
Here is the back:
Here is the front:
So why did I pick this up if it brings back such painful memories? Well the pain has dulled quite a bit over the past 3 seasons. After the 2010 World Series victory, I was able to sit through the video feeling much better. When an Angels fan would poke at me and direct me to the "highlights" of the 2002 Series (it happens every time I wear a Giants hat to a game), I could watch without getting sick and would usually say something like "you got yours, now we have ours". I am looking forward to my first game this year when I can say "you only have one, we've got two", I wonder if I will even get poked.
There is nothing like a couple World Series wins to dull the pain!