Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Perfect Game...

it was not

Not in the traditional sense, although I did have the good fortune of witnessing - from the comfort of my living room - Matt Cain spin the first one in Giants history a little over a month ago. When fully appreciated, pitching is an art form, and witnessing a perfect game - let alone one with five full counts, fourteen strikeouts, and two physics-defying plays in the outfield - is like standing in the Sistine Chapel during its transformation. By games end, I imagine even the Houston Astros fans were swept up by rare beauty they were witnessing unfold at AT & T Park that chilly, June evening.

This Sunday afternoon's game, however, a disappointing 4-0 loss to their rival Dodgers, was more like one of those abstract paintings at my buddy Jim's house. Beautiful to the questionably unintelligent Dodger fan base, but to the discerning eye of the Giants fan it just looks like a few scattered hits, mediocre defense, and pedestrian pitching thrown together on a big, lawn-green, canvas. Once again, however, the Houston Astros fans were likely swept up, only this time it was with the rare demonstration that a team can play worse than they do. 

Sure, I know, reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw was pitching, and when all's said and done he may be recollected as one of his era's masters, but with this being Amari's second game ever, it's disappointing to say the least that the Giants have amassed a two-game total of five hits and zero runs. 

Aside from the result, however, the day and even the game were truly perfect. Carrie bought six tickets in April as a birthday present, so we invited my brother (Dodger fan, boooo), his wife (first game ever, crush on Ryan Vogelsong, so Giant potential), and one of my BFFs, Jessica (highly intelligent Giants fan). With uncertainty about the crowded Giants' ferry and the possible traffic from a marathon in San Francisco, we left early and drove into the city. There ended up being no traffic at all, so we ended up getting to the park early enough for me to witness batting practice for the first time. 

A little back story: The San Francisco Giants have a team full of characters and fan clubs for each one. Pablo Sandoval lovers wear Panda hats, Lincecum fans dangle hair extensions from their hats, fake beards honor Brian Wilson, and most recently a growing contingent is coming to the yard dressed as Milkmen for the hot-hitting Melky Cabrera. Having seen many of these fans on TV, I decided I would start a small fan base for Angel Pagan - aptly called Pagan's Angels - so I made a sign and bought a halo for my daughter to wear with her Giants shirt.

In front of our seats at the center field wall, we tried to get Pagan's attention, maybe have him toss us a game ball during batting practice. The only person, however, whom we caught the attention of was another Giants fan garnering a long pole with a grabby contraption designed for changing light bulbs on high ceilings. He was using it to grab balls that rolled to the outfield wall. When he finally managed to grab one, he turned back to see if Amari and I were still around and graciously gave us the ball. 

The game started, and Angel Pagan go the Giants' first hit, legging out an infield single. I raised my sign in the bleachers hoping to catch a camera, even though Amari had long since given her halo to her mother. I'm pretty sure I got nothing. By the third inning, a napless Amari was beginning to fade, so I took her for a walk on the promenade, making her wear the halo again with the promise of taking her to the slides. That's when the magic happened.

Walking along, weaving in and out of the crowd, we were stopped by a woman who said to Amari, "Hey, I'm an Angel Pagan fan, too. Give me a high five." Amari obliged, we chatted for a moment, and as we were about to walk away, a CSN Bay Area employee with a giant camera zoomed in on us. Amari and I both said our "Go Giants," the camera man lingered much too long, and on the way  home we got confirmation from Carrie's mom that she'd seen us on TV. Mike Krukow even said, "There's an Angel fan."

It may not have been a perfect game, but eventually it turned into a perfect day. 

And the re-recorded TV appearance. Express written consent from major league baseball still pending

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