England doesn’t win and the lesson therein (column)
July 11, 2018
After the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2014, our copy editor and now copy chief Ali Murray kept a count of the number of United Parcel Service boxes that arrived at my desk.
We dug that sheet up on Wednesday, July 11, after Croatia nipped England, 2-1, during the World Cup semifinals. Yes, we hoard everything at the Vail Daily, and Murray's list, "Freud's Boxes," toted up to 26, though Madame Copy Chief insists there were more.
And given my wardrobe, who am I to argue?
Yes, 2014 was the third time the Giants won the World Series in this decade as I might have been mentioned once or twice in this space, but there are two reasons I ordered everything on MLB.com that said we won in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
If you live and die with your team, then these moments are the pinnacle. This may sound sacrilegious or funny, but I don't intend it as either. The Giants winning the World Series in 2010 is the greatest proof I have that a benevolent God exists.
Yes, maybe, I'm crazy. Maybe, he works in mysterious ways. After my father died in 2006, I was in a dark place and winning whole darn thing in 2010 just infused my life with happiness that continues to this day.
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I certainly do place too much emphasis on the Giants. I admit it. But we are fans, a derivative of fanatic, defined as "a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal."
Translating it into Bronco-ese
Theology aside, I bring up "The Helicopter Run", and you know how you felt when John Elway and the Broncos were delivering the franchise's first Super Bowl win.
And this brings up the bigger reason of the two. As fans, we know what's come before that championship moment. Every team has its tale of woe in any sport and its ardent fans remember the nightmares just as much — if not more — than the joy.
Before the Broncos won Super Bowls XXXII, XXXIII and 50, there was a lot of pain. Dallas destroyed the Orange Crush, 27-10, in the late-70, and then came the Elway Super Bowls.
You remember the three destructions of Denver in four years — 39-20 to the Giants, 42-10 to the Redskins and, yes, 55-10 to the 49ers.
Before the Buffalo Bills became a Super Bowl punchline during the 90s, the Broncos played that role.
The scars of those moments of devastation made Broncos owner Pat Bowlen's pronouncement, "This one's for John," all the more joyous for Broncos fans.
While the last 20 years or so have been kind to fan bases starved of the crown — it's not just the obvious ones such as the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago Cubs, but seemingly hopeless franchises such as the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had their day — there are still those on the waiting list.
And that brings us to England, the country that invented the modern form of football/soccer. The dream of the country's first title since 1966 was postponed … again … another four years with a loss to Croatia.
I don't bleed red and white, but I'd be thinking, "You're telling me that we, who invented this (expletive) game, lost to a country that's only existed for 27 years? Shouldn't we win this thing before a country that's barely legal to drink? Wasn't it destiny that we play France in the final? Seriously, if England weren't going to play Germany for its first World Cup win in 52 years, the script had to call for France, right?"
England's World Cup semifinal loss reminded me of all the indignities of Giants-dom before the titles.
Is Croatia like the Marlins?
The expansion Florida Marlins, aka Croatia, born in 1993, won the World Series in 1997 and 2003, both times beating the Giants, still sitting on their last title in 1954 at the respective times, on their way to championships. If you're reading this on the web, then advance to the 7-minute mark and you'll see a simulation of me in 2003.
Or 2002, when the Giants led the World Series, 3 games to 2, and led the Anaheim Angels, 5-0, in Game 6, with eight outs to go, only to blow the game and the series.
I have never taken my mom to brunch for Mother's Day. We go to a Giants game at some point during the season and declare it Mother's Day.
At the end of April earlier this year, we were at AT&T Park walking around the park before entering. We paused at the center-field gate and the scoreboard to look up at the three orange flags that signify 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Then, we walked along the promenade that's between the right-field wall and McCovey Cove, the San Francisco Bay. Along the walk, there are plaques that tell of the Giants' accomplishments since they moved into the stadium in 2000.
Having passed all the commemorations of Madison Bumgarner's brilliance in 2014, Pablo Sandoval hitting three home runs against the Tigers in 2012 (on Mom's 69th birthday, Oct. 24 of that year, no less) and the sheer improbability of 2010, Mom and I stopped in front of the 2002 NL Championship plaque, i.e. "The we didn't win that World Series, thanks for reminding us," monument.
Even after three titles, we're still not over that loss. We both swore and walked on.
English soccer fans, these are the times that make us fans. Keep the faith. Just remember to buy everything when you finally do win.
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