No amount of reverse jinxing or using the remote control was enough to end this current Giant tailspin
I was dreading Game 2. Sinking feeling in the stomach, you name it. Ever since the sixth inning of last Saturday's game with Atlanta, the Giants have looked nothing short of lethargic. No hitting and even worse middle relief. The Braves manager, Bobby Cox, must have spiked the visiting clubhouse's punchbowl when they were in Turner Field over the weekend. Otherwise, I can't explain dropping 3 consecutive games. It was time to prevent a 4th.
On this particular night, I decided to lift the hex that has suddenly gripped the team. I had to act like the aloof fan. After all, if I acted like I didn't care, the Giants would win. At least that's what the voices in my head I've heard since the heartbreaks of 2002, 2000, 1998, 1997, 1993, 1989 and 1987 were telling me. (When you look at that list of years, you almost have to do a couple of knee bends and rinse out your mouth.)
The following is a timeline of me working my magic:7:15-7:30 PM – Kurt Ainsworth gets the game started by refusing to dazzle me. Rich Aurilia hits into the team's first of 5 (five) double plays. I put my plan into action. The weather is exceptional, so I take my wife for a walk. Expos 1, Giants 0.
8:07 PM – I look at my watch and wonder how they're doing. I get upset over the fact that I'm actually thinking about the game and even more upset over the fact that I'm worrying about Montreal. Or is it Puerto Rico? No matter.
8:35 PM – We walk through the front door and it's already the 5th inning. Bases juiced. Barry at the plate. Pac Bell fans on their feet. Infield fly rule. Fortunately for the Giants, 3 Expo players who play in the infield don't know the rule. For a second, I think Frank Robinson is going to take the trio to the woodshed. I figure it's a good time for some channel surfing. Remember: Act aloof. They'll win. After all, it can't get any weirder than that play. I soon find out I'm wrong. Expos 4, Giants 4
8:40 PM – I flip it to "American Idol" and watch Ruben do James Ingram better than James Ingram. Then it gets weird when Clay Aiken walks on stage. I don't get it. How has this clown-show made it so far?! The straw-hat hair, the noodley looking arms… Is this the "Close Encounters" alien in a Huckleberry Finn hat? And, I'm sorry, the guy sings like a front man for an amusement park cover band. Paula Abdul then dubs his version of "Unchained Melody" as the "best of the competition." I nearly vomit. To avoid sickness, I get it back to the game. In hindsight, I should have stuck with "Idol."
8:49 PM – I watch the Giants unceremoniously go down 1-2-3 in the 6th. Ray Durham, where are you!?!? Expos 4, Giants 4
8:54 PM – It's time to vote on "American Idol." I pick up the phone and vote for Ruben. Suddenly, I think I need to hang a Justin Timberlake poster in my room and then get in line to see "The Lizzie McGuire Movie." I don't tell my wife about the call.
8:56 PM – Ahhh, Kurt Ainsworth has two quick outs in the 7th. I want to watch him finish the inning but it's time for the most stressful hour of television. That's right. "24" is on (and only 2 hours are left!) Expos 4, Giants 4
9:00 PM – The intro to "24" is simply outstanding. But I've got to see if Ainsworth made it through the 7th okay! One can only hope
9:01 PM - Yuck. Vlad impales the Giants for a two-run jack. I throw my notepad. Expos 6, Giants 4.
9:02 PM – CTU agent, Jack Bauer declares, "The following takes place between six a.m. and seven a.m." Mayhem at CTU! Tony Almeida has Division all over his case! I'm about to get all over the Giants' case.
9:05 PM – Jim Brower's now pitching for SF. It's still the 7th inning. I proclaim to my wife, "Their lackadaisical play these last 4 games is getting me sick." I realize it's the first time I've ever used "lackadaisical" in a spoken conversation. I mildly impress myself. I decide it's time to fully commit to "24". Expos 6, Giants 4.
9:06 PM – Jack Bauer shoots the computer geek who is partially responsible for triggering a war with the Middle East. Bombing is imminent. I told you this is stressful.
9:10 PM - I forget that "fully" committing to something doesn't mean only 4 minutes. The Giants don't make it worth my while as they whimper out of the 7th. Expos 6, Giants 4.
9:12 PM – The computer geek is dying and CTU has cancelled the chopper sent to pick up him and Bauer. Jack's going bananas. Okay, this time I'm really committing. Aloofness will bring the Giants glory.
9:17 PM – I pat myself on the back for lasting 5 minutes instead of 4. Expos are batting with one out, top of the 8th. I'll come back in the bottom of the inning. Expos 6, Giants 4.
9:18 PM – No one likes a rat and I just loathe that Carrie! Get over the fact that Michelle is your superior and let her and Tony do their jobs!!! My wife enters the room and asks, "What have I missed?" She's missed at least the last six episodes. Maybe more. I am dumbstruck.
9:22 PM – Barry's up. The world stops spinning on its axis. But some guy named Scott Stewart rings him up. This is a joke, right? Expos 6, Giants 4
9:27 PM – Jack is suffering from heart failure and only the recently-deposed President's ex-wife can help him save the world. I'm giving this at least 10 minutes.
9:36 PM – I catch Tim Worrell practice his rock skipping technique and both runners advance 90 feet. Oh, the humanity! Expos 6, Giants 4
9:41 PM – Kate Warner is now on the screen. She is portrayed by Aussie actress, Sarah Wynter. Did you see her in Maxim two months ago? Phew. All is right in the world.
9:46 PM – Rocky Biddle induces Alfonzo into the Giants fifth and final double play of the evening. Neifi Perez then pops out and the game is over. I may as well be a Brewers fan. Okay, that's a bit extreme. Final Score: Expos 6, Giants 4
9:49 –10:00 PM – I can hardly enjoy the final 10 minutes of "24" because I'm wondering what went wrong in Atlanta. If Jack Bauer can save the U.S. from a nuclear attack, can he hit with runners on base or pitch middle relief? If so, please contact Felipe Alou.
Postscript: It doesn't get much better in the final game of the series as the Giants get waxed 6-3. Maybe the Mets coming to town might be what the doctor ordered. At least Clay Aiken
won't sing the national anthem.
Keith Larson writes for SFDugout.com because he's lived and died with the Giants since 1972. He welcomes all words of praise and insult at firstname.lastname@example.org, but mentioning anything having to do with Game 6 is to be done with extreme caution.