Heartfelt torture turned bliss for Giants fans

Opinion: Having followed these SF Giants all my life, from my youth growing up in the Bay area to my adult life in Israel, I am used to disappointment.

San Francisco Giants 58 AP (photo credit: AP)
San Francisco Giants 58 AP
(photo credit: AP)
I suppose most Israelis were sound asleep in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Not my brother and I.
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We had been up since 2 a.m. watching Game 6 of the NLCS between our beloved San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies.
As we bit our proverbial nails throughout the up-and-down affair, never was Giants’ broadcaster Duane Kuiper’s mantra more apt: “Giants baseball… torture!” But just as Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Howard looking with the go-ahead runs on base in the bottom of the ninth at 5:40 a.m. Israel time, absolute torture gave way to pure joy.
Of course Juan Uribe’s opposite- field home run in the eighth inning provided the winning 3-2 margin, but this game had a bit of everything: a bench-clearing incident, missed opportunities for both sides, dominant bullpen relief from San Francisco and more.
At one point my brother turned to me and said, “The Giants better win tonight, because I can’t take a Game 7 tomorrow night.”
But as one who has followed these San Francisco Giants all my life, from my youth growing up in the Bay area to my adult life in Israel, I am used to disappointment.
This is the team that came oh-so-close to winning the World Series in 1962 and 2002, but has never won it since moving from New York to San Francisco in 1958.
Playoff disappointments were commonplace in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
In short, even before this season, Giants fans had begun to embrace their self-proclaimed “torture.”
Until now.
As this rag-tag team of veterans, rookies and cast-offs raised the National League trophy this week, I thought to myself how much more satisfying the accomplishment was given the effort required to achieve it (and, of course the torture to endure it).
Living in Israel, we sort of live a life of close calls, ups and down, of, well, for lack of a better word, torture.
But it makes our accomplishments all the sweeter because of the daily struggles we endure.
But looking ahead to the World Series, I assume all the experts will pick the Texas Rangers (appearing in their first Fall Classic) to defeat the underdog Giants – and they should.
Texas has a superior offensive team that beat the mighty New York Yankees in the playoffs by an average of five runs a game, while the Giants barely outlasted the Phillies in mostly one-run affairs.
In my day-to-day life, the most difficult question I have to answer is usually posed by native Israelis or someone who is an oleh, but not from an English-speaking country: “Why did you make aliya from California?” While there are many possible good answers (Zionism, biblical roots, Jewish homeland, family, being connected, making a difference, etc.) the person asking the question cannot fathom or comprehend any such answer.
That’s because they are typically asking from an economic point of view. How could you leave such a job, house and other luxuries to move to Israel? To answer that Israel is “our homeland” does not satisfy them.
I’d often hem-and-haw at that question, but now I realize there is no answer that will satisfy them.
These inquisitors wonder how in your head (and pocketbook) you can justify aliya, but you can’t answer such a question in such terms because the real reason you came to live in Israel is that you followed your heart.
So, in that vein, the Texas Rangers are the logical pick to win the World Series – it certainly makes baseball sense.
As for me, well, like Tony Bennett, I left my heart in San Francisco.