The walk to AT&T Park can take a baseball lover past spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay — glimpses of sea life, water and ships that have remained unchanged for years. ¶ The arrival at the magnificent ballpark, perhaps the best in all of baseball, is equally breathtaking. ¶ But the product inside? Well, that’s more a testament to the harsh nature of baseball and its potential for season-to-season change.
In the Bay Area for the weekend, we had the chance to take in a game Saturday against the Cubs. A scalper gladly sold us tickets for below face value even though the Giants announced their 218th consecutive sellout. The die-hards were there in full force, with painted faces, orange pants and “Panda” hats to keep out the chill and honor Pablo Sandoval.
But the on-field product continued a sad trend for the 2012 World Series champs.
In a scoreless game, the Giants squandered opportunity after opportunity. After two misplayed bunts loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth, 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey grounded into a force out at home. Then Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, did the same. After Hunter Pence was retired, the rally was done.
Nate Schierholtz hit a home run for the Cubs in the ninth, setting up one more failed rally: a game-ending 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom half. It was a 1-0 loss for the home team, leaving the Giants’ record virtually identical to that of the Twins one year after winning it all.
Fans dejectedly made the slow walk from their seats, into a series of staircases. As the line slowed to a crawl, one impatient fan attempted to circumvent the process by sneaking onto the suite level to find some elevators, only to be met by locked doors. A gloom-and-doom fan behind us took note, jokingly remarking that the Giants wanted the end of game experience to mirror the in-game experience: an opportunity that quickly led to a dead end.
Nobody should feel bad for these Giants fans, of course, after their team took home two of the past three World Series titles.
But if you root for the Twins, the contrast can at least be comforting. The Giants were 90-game winners every year from 2000 to ’04, then lost at least 85 games every year from 2005 to ’08. Then they won two championships, and now they are back down again.
Winning and losing are fleeting, even if the endless water of the bay is not.