A grave misfortune has befallen me: the San Francisco Giants made the MLB playoffs. And the World Series.
As a Giants fan, you’d think I would be happy. I am. My misfortune lies not in my happiness, but rather in the shame of knowing that something as trivial and meaningless as nine guys I don’t know throwing balls at each other has the power to influence the intimate details of my daily life 2,500 miles away. I am an empty shell of a person.
I recall back to my early days when I first realized sports could be something in which I had an emotional stake. It was at my dear alma mater, UCLA, where I developed an appreciation for Bruin Football. This was unfortunate, because UCLA was abysmal. But, as a loyal undergraduate, I stuck with my team and went to game after game, and my passion grew. Eventually, I was foolish enough to give into the consumerism of athletics (because that’s what it’s all about: money) and buy a shirt to demonstrate my unadulterated, loudmouthed pride.
It was five dollars off the discount rack at the student store (as it should’ve been). It was perhaps the most obnoxious piece of clothing I’ve ever laid my hands on, but it stood out loud and proud above and beyond the attire of my fellow Bruins, and for that reason, I fell in love with it. Our stormy romance continues to this day.
Gameday came and I put on the shirt, feeling its Bruiny powers spread throughout my itchy torso. I turned on the TV and sat, ready for my shirt to march my team to victory.
We lost. Horribly.
The next week, I put on my blessed shirt for a second attempt. We lost again. And again. And again. Every time I wore that damn shirt, we lost a game. Week after week after week after week…
But no, I loved that shirt. I was devoted to that shirt. By Golly, UCLA was going to win a game while I wore that shirt if it was the last thing I’d do! Like an amateur coach stubbornly trying to assert an inept running game, I stubbornly stuck with my unlucky shirt, foolishly trying to force luck upon it, meanwhile feeling directly responsible for every UCLA loss for which the shirt was undoubtedly to blame.
That was long ago. The shirt has since developed as a student-athlete and now wins a solid 50% of the time.
However, football is once a week. Baseball is every damn day.
My recent woes all started earlier this month when the Giants were in the playoffs against the Cincinnati Reds. They lost the first two games of the series, and their elimination seemed imminent. As a hopeless attempt at willing good luck upon the Giants for Game 3, I decided to buy a pint of San Francisco-made Anchor Steam in honor of my woeful team.
Of course, they won.
So the next day, confusing coincidence with causation, I bought another pint of Anchor Steam, and watched them again. And again, they won. And so on the last day of that series, I tried the Anchor Steam trick once again, and again, they won!
Giants without Anchor Steam: 0-2
Giants with Anchor Steam: 3-0
It was science.
But then Game 1 against the Cardinals came and I had class, therefore no Anchor Steam.
A loss. I was distraught. It was all my fault. In a fit of regret the next morning after a sleepless night tormented by horrific nightmares of Lincecum pitching stoned, I had to have a discussion with myself before the game, which once again overlapped with classes.
Quack Bro – “Dude. I know it’s 10:00am and we have class in an hour, but we have to drink a pint of Anchor Steam before class. Aka: now.”
Quack Ego – “No, that’s ridiculous. The Giants’ success is not contingent on us drinking Anchor Steam. It’s just a coincidence.”
Quack Bro – “No, man. They’re 3-0 when we’re drinking the Steam, 0-3 when we’re not. It’s no coincidence. It’s data. Cold hard data. The Giants win when we drink. So let’s drink.”
Quack Ego – “No! I’m not going to class buzzed before noon!”
Quack Bro – “Okay buddy, whatever you say. It’s not my fault you’ll drown yourself in the agony of guilt when the Giants lose today.”
Quack Ego – “No. That’s final.”
Quack Bro – “Okay, but before we head to class, I’ve got one word for you: Vogelsong.”
Quack Ego – “….Fine. Grab my wallet, let’s get in the goddamn car.”
My lecture notes were entirely filled with doodles of the Giants logo and anagrams of their starting lineup.
Of course, the Giants won. Four wins with Anchor. Three losses without.
But the next day? The Cosmos threw me a curveball. Even with a trusty pint of Anchor by my side, the Giants lost, and my faith in beer (the one and only surefire method for success I had yet discovered as a spectator) crashed into the sewer. I was distraught.
Oh, Cruel Cosmos! Why have you given me such faith in the certainty of my deeds? Why have you teased me with such a dubious correlation only to rip it out of my heart and stomp on it without mercy? Is there no Justice? Is there no Truth?
I knew the Cosmos was trying to teach me a lesson about overconfidence. I had to play its game. I had to win back its support by rejecting the illusion of influence. I had to admit to the futility of self-determination. Only with humility would I be able to crawl out of the sewers of despair and admit my subhuman shortcomings. Only then would the Cosmos grant me grace.
We lost again the next day. Oh, Cruel Cosmos. How wretched I have become…
And then a win. Another win. A third win! A FOURTH WIN!
Quack Ego – “Ugh. Change your shirt, man.”
Quack Bro – “But we’re undefeated in this shirt!”
Quack Ego – “It’s starting to reek. At least wash it. Please.”
Quack Bro – “No, man! The detergent is Dodgers Blue. Can’t wash the Orange ‘n Black with Dodgers Blue.”
And so on and so forth…