san francisco giants

Exit 204. I’m sitting on a train from Sacramento to San Jose right now with no idea what to write.

I’m sitting on a train from Sacramento to San Jose right now with no idea what to write.

Someone I know just got on the train in Davis.  I would say that that was unexpected, but maybe it’s not.  Since June of 2017, I have made three round trips on Amtrak, and twice someone else I know ended up on the same train as me.  Maybe it’s just that I know a lot of people.

The Wi-Fi on the train is actually working today.

I made a list of goals for the summer, as I said I would do last week.  I haven’t made much progress on it, but that’s okay, because I have plenty of time.  I did make small dents in the total number of miles I want to run and bike before I go back to work,   I thought about doing one of my bigger goals (go to a Giants game) last week, but I backed out at the last minute on the grounds that I was better off taking some down time, starting my Teacher Summer with a week and a half of dead time, then going to visit my family (hence today’s train ride, which will be followed by a bus ride from San Jose to Salinas), then tackling my big adventures after that.  But after watching the game I didn’t go to from home, I wish I had gone, because the Giants came back from a two run deficit in the 9th inning to force extra innings and win in the 10th.

The aforementioned dead time was just the right balance of fun, relaxing, and productive.  And now I get four days with my parents, not having to worry about things like making dinner every night.

I left a pile of dirty dishes in the sink at home.  Probably not the best idea.  I hope I don’t come home to a big stinky mess.  I was going to put them in the dishwasher before I left, but there were still clean dishes in the dishwasher from yesterday.  And I literally didn’t have time to put the clean dishes away, because I had a train to catch.  Oh well.  It’s not the end of the world.

I’m now somewhere in the marshlands between Suisun and Martinez, and I still have no idea what to write about.  So I guess this is it.  This is your post for the week.  Have a great week, everyone.

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Exit 124. Maybe it’s time to find someone else.

Santiago Casilla has been having a rough couple of months.

Casilla is the closer for the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  For my unbaseballed readers, “closer” is the informal term for a pitcher whose role is to enter the game late and usually only pitch one inning.  The strategy is to use the closer in a close game in which the team is leading, so that the closer can pitch a few quick outs and end the game in a win for his team.

But Casilla not been very good at his job lately.  Recently, when he has entered the game with a small lead, he ends up pitching poorly and letting the other team score, often resulting in a loss for the Giants.  Fans are frustrated, sometimes now to the point of booing when Giants manager Bruce Bochy calls for Casilla to enter the game.  (And I don’t think they were saying Boo-ochy.)  Two months ago, the Giants were the best team in all of Major League Baseball, but since then they have slid precipitously in the standings, now barely clinging to life in the playoff race.

The moderator of a Giants Facebook posted last night that the only thing that makes sense at this point is that Casilla must have compromising pictures of Bochy.  In other words, Casilla must be keeping the closer job by blackmailing Bochy, because Bochy should know better than to use Casilla in these situations when he has caused the team to lose so many games.

Last night, I was playing board games with friends, but keeping an eye on the Giants score on my phone.  The Giants were leading 2-1 over the St. Louis Cardinals going into the 9th inning, but then Casilla came in to pitch, walked a runner, gave up a couple of hits, and left the game with the Giants behind 3-2.  The Giants could not score in the bottom of the 9th.  My friends who also follow the Giants were expressing similar thoughts about why Bochy continues to use Casilla in these situations, and how Bochy keeps deflecting the question when asked this by reporters.  Everyone has a bad day sometimes.  Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.  I get that.  If a closer blows a save or two, it shouldn’t cost him his job.  But when your team’s closer is leading Major League Baseball with nine blown saves this season, most of them coming relatively recently, then maybe it’s time to find someone else to do the job.

Finally, I said, “Bochy needs to let go and move on, and use someone else as the closer.  He’s acting like a guy who can’t get over his ex-girlfriend and keeps hoping they’ll get back together.”

I’ve been that guy before.  This is a hard life lesson for many of us, whether or not it has any connection with baseball.  Sometimes what used to work isn’t working anymore, and sometimes life has changed to the point where it may never work like that again.  Change is hard, but sometimes not changing is even harder in the long run.  Just like the Giants, I can’t stay stuck in my same old patterns and expect to stop being sad all of a sudden.  If I’m doing something that I don’t enjoy, taking time away from other things in life, then it’s time to do something else.  If I’m spending time and energy on people who aren’t making me a priority, then it’s time to stop making them such a priority.  Time to let go and move on.

Exit 98. I have learned that I was wrong.

I am ready to recant a position that I held in my childhood and teen years.  I have learned that I was wrong.  I was misled by a desire for attention and a lack of knowledge of the history involved, and for many years I betrayed my roots.  But I have seen the error of my ways.

I don’t do The Wave anymore at sporting events.

For those of you non-sports people, The Wave is a cheer where people stand up and scream for a few seconds, then sit down.  Fans are supposed to stand up and cheer when the fans next to them start doing it, so the cheer ends up progressing like a wave around the stadium.  When I first saw this on TV at some point as a kid, I thought it was fascinating, and it looked like a lot of fun.  I started trying to get The Wave going at my brother’s Little League games.  It usually didn’t work, and my mother would always tell me to quiet down and stop making a scene.  I’m not sure why she was always so against me being loud and having fun – you’re supposed to be loud at sporting events, after all, right?  Maybe because she grew up in the kind of family where children were seen and not heard when in public, and that was all she knew.  (Mom, I know you read this.  No hard feelings.  I’m not holding a grudge.)

During my senior year of high school, I went to every football game, both home and away.  At away games, I always sat with the group of students from my school who made the trip (much of this group consisted of the girlfriends of football players).  A few times, I got them to help me start The Wave, and it actually succeeded.  It felt good to have people actually pay attention to me being passionate and not discourage me from making a scene.

I never really tried to start The Wave on my own after that, but occasionally I would be at a sporting event where The Wave got started, and I would enthusiastically participate.  About a decade ago or so, though, I started hearing more and more people point out that Giants fans (this is San Francisco Giants baseball) don’t do The Wave.  I never knew why, and I never really gave much thought to it, although since then I had noticed people at Giants games being discouraged from doing The Wave.  But I also had a memory from childhood of a Giants game where The Wave actually happened.

A few years ago, I was at a math teachers’ conference, attending a session about, um, I don’t remember the topic now, but the presenter was modeling how to get students to think in an open-ended way about math problems.  She presented a scenario involving The Wave, and some questions about the speed of The Wave and the number of participants.  She began the presentation asking for volunteers to ask any questions we might be able to think of about The Wave.  Most of the questions were mathematical in nature (“How fast does The Wave travel?”  “How many people are needed to successfully start The Wave?”).  I took a different approach and suggested the question, “Why don’t Giants fans do The Wave?”  Another teacher in the presentation answered my question, saying that Giants fans don’t do The Wave because it started at an Oakland Athletics game.

I did the research when I got home, and although the origin of The Wave is disputed and unclear, one of the earliest documented performances of The Wave was indeed at an Oakland Athletics game, during the 1981 playoffs.  Another early performance of The Wave was in Los Angeles, during soccer at the 1984 Olympics.  An origin in Oakland or Los Angeles would each be unacceptable to Giants fans, with the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers being the Giants’ primary rivals.

Last week, I was at a Sacramento Kings (basketball) game, and The Wave got started at one point.  For possibly the first time ever, I didn’t participate.  Now that I know the full history behind why Giants fans don’t do The Wave, I have to stay true to that, even though this was an entirely different sport.  More importantly, though, The Wave is often a distraction for fans who are bored with the game itself.  I was trying to watch the game.  Five minutes were left on the clock, and the Kings were losing, as is usually the case these days.  One of the few positive things I noticed about the game, however, was that the Kings had not missed a single free throw for the entire game.  During the time that The Wave was going, a Kings player (I think it was Rudy Gay) was shooting a free throw.  The Wave passed by behind the basket just as Rudy was shooting the free throw… and it missed.  The Wave ruined our perfect free throw shooting night.

So I’m through with The Wave.

Exit 69. Why did I stop watching?

Full House, a popular television sitcom from my preteen and teen years, has been in the news again.  It was one of the great campy family sitcoms of that era (1987-95), but the family it featured was very atypical.  Danny Tanner was a local TV personality and the widowed father of three little girls, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle.  At the beginning of the series, Danny’s brother-in-law Jesse and best friend Joey moved in with him to help take care of the girls.  As the series continued, more and more people ended up living under the same roof: Rebecca, Danny’s television co-star, became a love interest for Uncle Jesse, and when they got married, she moved in with them.  They ended up having twin boys in the later seasons.  DJ’s best friend Kimmy, the requisite annoying neighbor that every sitcom of that era had, was also a regular character throughout the series, and DJ had a boyfriend in some of the later seasons as well.

As I said, the show has been getting attention again lately for two reasons.  First was the announcement that Netflix is working on developing a sequel of sorts with many of the original actors.  This show will follow a similar premise to the original, but starring the next generation.  DJ is now an adult whose husband has recently passed away, and Stephanie and Kimmy move in to help her take care of her kids.

The other, more hilarious reason, is because of a video the San Francisco Giants baseball team released last week.  Full House was set in San Francisco, and the Giants have a Full House tribute night coming up in September.  The team made a video where they reenacted the opening sequence of Full House, featuring Giants players.  They reenacted scenes from the opening sequence perfectly.  (As an added bonus, Dave Coulier, the actor who played Joey, appears in character at the end.)  (If you don’t remember the show, you’ll appreciate the video below if you click here and watch this one first.  The opening sequence changed several times over the show’s run as the characters aged, but this one seems to have all of the scenes that were referenced in the Giants video.)

(Note: the video I originally linked had been removed by early 2016.  Here’s a link to a bootleg copy on YouTube: https://youtu.be/tiqQEbEf4PY)

So all this renewed attention on one of my regular childhood TV shows got me thinking: Why did I stop watching it?

The show ran for eight seasons, and I’m pretty sure I stopped watching somewhere around season 6.  In researching this post, I’ve read about some of the major plot developments in seasons 7 and 8, and I don’t remember them at all.  The final season would have been my freshman year at UC Davis, and I didn’t watch much TV at all that year.  I vaguely remember being in my dorm room in the spring of 1995 and getting a phone call from Mom in which she mentioned that she had just watched the series finale of Full House, and it was kind of sad.

This is very unlike me.  I’m the type that once I get into a TV show, I stay loyal to it until the end, even when most of its fans have decided that the show has jumped the shark and it’s time to move on.  I watched all 13 seasons of King of the Hill.  I watched all nine seasons of X-Files, even the final season where Mulder and Scully weren’t even in in much.  I’m still watching new episodes of The Simpsons and Survivor.  I had always assumed that I stopped watching Full House because I outgrew it.  It was a very kid-friendly show, and as the show went on, it seemed like there were more and more episodes where so much of the plot revolved around Michelle doing something cute.  The producers seemed to be trying to capitalize on that too much.  Combine that with the fact that I took five AP classes during season 7 and went away to college during season 8, and it seems perfectly understandable that Full House would fall to the bottom of my list of priorities.  But then I remembered something else, something I had forgotten for 22 years, that I think affected my Full House watching as well.

At some point during high school, I remember overhearing one of my friends say that Full House was lame.  I’m not going to mention any names, and this is not someone I’ve stayed in touch with, although if he were ever to, say, send me a Facebook friend request, I would gladly accept.  Some of my high school friends reading this will probably know who I’m talking about.  This guy was in a lot of the same classes as me, and I must admit I admired him for all the time I saw him stand up to extremely liberal history teachers with his opposing views.  But sometimes he kind of bugged me too, although it certainly wasn’t intentional on his part and I hold no grudges today.  Anyway, this guy had a disproportionate influence on me for a couple years.  For example, I started listening more closely to one of his favorite bands during that time, after my reactions to their earlier work had ranged from neutral to what-the-crap-is-this.  I still today love much of that band’s work from that time period, even the song that originally made me say what-the-crap-is-this, although I’m not as fond of their newer stuff.  I don’t know that he is the only reason I stopped watching Full House, but now that I think about it, hearing him say that Full House was lame certainly got me thinking about the fact that maybe I had outgrown the show.

What makes me sad about all this is that this is exactly the kind of behavior pattern that I have spoken against.  It seems that now as an adult, the idea of being yourself, not caring what others think, has become so ingrained in me as the right way to live, but here I was as a teenager, letting my equivalent of Kimmy dictate what I watch and listen to, doing exactly what I’ve told so many people not to.  Everyone has their moments of weakness.  I used to be influenced a lot by what the people around me think, and I don’t think that this is anything that can ever be shaken completely.  It’s hard to find that balance of living your own life while surrounded by others.  And, of course, there are moments when other people’s opinions of you really do matter.  I’m not going to decide one day to show up to work naked on the grounds that I feel like living my own life my way, for example.  I’ve had such a history of being too self-conscious about what other people think.  I don’t want to live life that way as an adult.  But it’s hard when people, and culture in general, can be so judgmental.  And this is why it is so important that I keep encouraging people to be themselves.

And maybe someday, I’ll have to go back and find a way to watch seasons 7 and 8 of Full House.

Exit 30. I have a past.

Several years ago, back when I still used to do chat rooms, I said something to one of my chat room friends about my brother.  She replied, “It’s weird to me to think that you have a family.”  I asked why, and she said something about how she doesn’t know any of my family, and it’s like I just came out of nowhere.

I’m still not sure exactly what she meant by that, and I know she didn’t mean it as an insult.  But she does have a point.  Most of my closest friends now don’t know my family, although my brother has come to a couple of my birthday parties and 20th Century Video Game Nights.  I definitely have a family, though.  I’m not one of those bad-ass superheroes with dead parents, like Batman or Spider-Man or Kinsey Millhone.  My parents are very much alive, and they raised me.  I didn’t come out of nowhere.

But for a long time, I have felt that something similar was missing: childhood friends.  I don’t have that lifelong friend whom I’ve been close with since kindergarten.  In elementary school, I was the kid who constantly got picked on, and my attempts to fit in were met with ridicule and rejection.  I started making friends as a teenager, but once I graduated from high school and moved away, I would only hear from them sporadically, or not at all.

A few days ago, those of you who are my friends on Facebook may have seen a picture I was tagged in, a group photo of a bunch of kids with bad 80s haircuts wearing San Francisco Giants gear.  The picture, taken in October 1989, was from my 8th grade yearbook.  That was also the year that the Giants played (and lost to) the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.  Since those two teams are the closest to the school, we did group pictures of fans of each team.  And now, 25 years later, someone scanned that page from the yearbook, pointing out that we’d been Giants fans for a long time.  Similarly to the stories I told last month about my class reunion, this was a guy I had had a couple of classes with at one point, but we didn’t really run in the same circles later on in life.  Yet he still thought to tag me.

I hear friends talking about their childhood friends that they still spend a lot of time with, and sometimes I feel like that was something I missed out on.  Pretty much all the people I hang out with these days are considerably younger than me, and I feel like I’ve always been an adult as far as they’re concerned.  It’s like I came out of nowhere, like that one friend told me once.  But I have a past.  I had a childhood, I had teen years, and thanks to Facebook and the recent reunion, I feel a little more connected to my past than I have in a while.  I really should stay more connected with my past.