I really wanted to go to the last Giants’ game of the season.
What exactly I expected to happen I don’t know — have my favorite players miraculously heal and take the field? Have the Diamondbacks disqualified with the Giants subsequently thrust back into the world of October baseball?
When it comes down to it, I think I really wanted to hear Renel announce the team as “Your World Champion, San Fran-cis-co Gi-ants” one last time. I anticipated her saying it at April’s home opener for months, and it did not disappoint. It’s absurd, I know. Trying to hang on to something that happened almost over a year ago. But for some reason, I had to be at Wednesday’s game — maybe it was for closure? If so, I’m not sure I really got that. Here’s what didn’t happen at the Giants’ last game of 2011:
- Matt Cain didn’t start. Eric Surkamp did. No one knows exactly why (at least outside of the clubhouse). Bochy said on Tuesday that Cain had pitched a lot during the season and while he wasn’t at risk for injury seemed to imply that the rest would do Matty good. Go figure. Perhaps the coaching staff thought it best to give Surkamp a decent start under his belt so he didn’t have to relive that last, disastrous start against Arizona all winter.
- Bill Neukom and Larry Baer did not get into fisticuffs. Actually, the Giants played a really touching video tribute to Neukom after the sixth inning, with the words “Thank You Bill” writ big and bold across the center-field score board. When the camera spanned to Neukom, he waved to the applauding crowd and reached one hand up to his eye, behind his sunglasses. Wiping a tear? Perhaps, but he seemed moved and so did we, especially when minutes later Pat Burrell was removed from what could quite possibly be his last major league start. One nearby fan described the weight of the moment: “I feel like I’m watching an episode of Lassie.”
- I did not win an orange and black Toyota Tundra truck. Nor did I win a $500 Visa gift card, a night at Hotel Vitale, a Giants promotion pack containing all of the giveaways from the 2011 season, a bobblehead modeled after me and my closest friend or any of the other Fan Appreciation Day prizes.
- Pablo Sandoval did not end his season with a sweet homerun. Neither did Andres Torres. Neither of them started, but they both entered the game to much fanfare.
- The Giants did not find their groove. Granted I don’t think the point of starting so many rookies was to jump start the moribund season, but just the same it was an off-stride game in an off-stride year.
- Buster Posey did not make an appearance, at least from what I could see. Buster, give us a sign. We’re worried.
- The Giants did not win the game, nor would they have clinched anything of significance if they had. At game’s end, the team did not jump on top one another in a celebratory mass, screaming as fans cried and hugged one another. There will be no jumbo screen at Civic Center Plaza, no parade across the city. Just another also-ran season.
- I was not satisfied. My junior high basketball coach once told me that the last game of the season is never what you want it to be — your shots don’t sink, you’ll argue with your teammates, etc. But that’s okay. The season and the experience is the sum of its parts. The season was frustrating as hell (heck?), but still a thrill.
- The Giants, at least, didn’t pull a September swoon comparable to the Red Sox. Now that’s torture.