Friday, November 2, 2012

Turning of the Leaves and Giants Win It All

(October 29, 2012) Turning of the Leaves Metric ride around Sonoma County.  With *Ward, *Long, *Rebecca and *Dr. Dave (*who did Sweetwater Springs Climb), & #Jack, #Stephen, #June, #Andy, #Eri (#who wanted to spend more time with the burn outs in Guernville.) 70 miles

Halloween, the Giants in the World Series, a great bike ride.  How great is that.
This is an annual and bittersweet ride.  The ride is great.  Great scenery, loads of wineries, crap Sonoma Roads.  Only problem is that it usually signals the LAST nice day of the year---before the rain and cold really move in and it gets dark at 4pm.   Would have added on for a full century but wanted to get home to watch the Giants in the World Series.

Stephen and June plan a good route which starts on a climb on Chalk Hill--the end of the Santa Rosa Century.  Then its rollers through the vineyards with an optional climb--Sweetwater Springs--right outside Guernville--today full of pony tailed guys wearing Giants shirts. 

A friend of Steve's, Mr.Wobbly, usually shows up for this ride so we push the pace at the beginning to tire Mr. Wobbly out before he can half wheel us to death--but this time no Mr. Wobbly so we rode in a much more relaxed pace.  Except for Long and Rebecca.  Half the time I'd join them pushing the pace--at other times I'd join Ward as the ticket collector, where he we bringing riders dropped on a roller back to the pack on the flats.  That was when Ward and I weren't fn around taking photos, and there is alot of great background for photos.

I'd get lost if I did this route alone, I instantly remembered place where the witch in Volkswagen Bug buzzed us two years ago--and where a person has dogs playing cards set up in their front (vine)yard.  But this time the dogs were dressed as Giants fans.  A cyclist with a Giants jersey was nearby.  Our nice paceline interrupted when we got to the Sweetwater Springs cutoff--where a climbing detour on a back road awaited.  It started gently but finished as a double digit grade.  Since Mt Tam race was over I've put on 10 lbs but I wanted to do the climb and glad when half the club also wanted to.  Within a mile the trees were so dense it was almost nightfall. 

Coach Andy said while he didn't have to do Sweetwater Climb  we had to do it.  He looks serious so Ward, Dr. Dave and I had to do it  (WI) 

The extra weight made the climb hard--but it was alot more fun than the steep, curvy downhill on crap roads.  I think Dr. Dave kept using the word "uncambered" after each turn.  "Shit pavement" also applied.   I was so zonked when we got to the bottom I promptly would have gone the wrong way on the main road--Armstrong PED Woods Road, if Ward didn't correctly point in the opposite direction.

We all regroup with out flat road counterparts at Guernville Safeway--where it took 15 minutes to checkout a banana with  the five people in front of me on the express line.  I was just waiting for someone to pull out a checkbook and take 15 minutes more so I could scream.   Stephen has to find a mom and pop health food store as an alternative that makes macrobiotic organic veggie shakes with wheatgrass.   Eventually out we went and hit my favorite part of the Santa Rosa ride, some steep but mostly short rollers.  I knew they were too long if Rebecca and Long rode away, I knew they were just right if I could stay with them.

Suddenly at our "Bates Motel" house for group photo--the vineyard occupants put up a new fence.  The fence and the sunlight in the wrong place tried to defeat Ward's effort at for a good group photo. Next time Ward needs to bring the full sized tripod for Rebecca to carry and the slave flash with reflective umbrella for Long to cart around.

Ride is always over to quickly--BOOM, back on the Windsor green. It is now warm--even in the shade--it would have been nice to put in another 30 miles. But I wanted to start back to catch the World Series game. Apart from grabbing a yogurt I raced home and kept the playoff tradition alive--a few innings listening to the local guys on the radio, and then the national fools on television. Shut the Buck up. This time I got home way too early, just in time for the extended Taco Bell interview during the game, while Buck and McCarver prattled on while the Giants won again.

The Turning of the Leaves Championship Parade Movie--Good close up photos usually taken by Ward, I took the wide angle stuff and the baseball stuff.

In 2010 the feeling was profound relief--I never thought the Giants would win a World Championship in my lifetime.  For 40+ years the history of the SF Giants was that their drunk owner moved them into the worst stadium imaginable (despite some guy name Richard Nixon's pronouncement that Candlestick was the "finest ballpark in America.)   The Giants were jinxed.   In the isolated park with the constant fog stream--promising Giants pitchers never developed, the team would somehow always play good enough before 10,000 fans to finish...2nd, and weird trades that almost always hurt the Giants (goodbye Cepeda, goodbye Perry/ Foster) were constantly made.  Candlestick was cursed--even when the Giants made the World Series a delay because of rain let the Yankees reset their pitching rotation and a smash McCovey line drive to win was right to a Yankee.  Twenty five years later team steroids from the East Bay just had to use their two best pitchers when a little earthquake put a long break in the World Series.  New ownership meant that the Giants stopped signing 3 mediocre free agent players while the Yankees signed a future hall of famer--but even signing Barry Bonds was a curse in its own right.  They won 103 games and couldn't win the division, Bonds derisive attitude had Will Clark suddenly disappear, and later a team with two best of all times (Bonds/ Kent) couldn't win it all--partly because of the daggers they threw each other.

Timmy as a rookie, with hair 20" shorter than now, being autograph friendly and having a catch with my daughter with a ball Krukow and Kuiper gave us the day before--gotta like these guys.

Somehow from all of this came Pac Bell Park--the best ballpark in the land.  Long suffering frozen crowds of 10,000 (ok 55,000 rowdy drunks on opening day and Friday nights when the Dodgers came to town) gave way to 40,000 loud fans.  Mediocre teams or me me me teams gave way to players one could enjoy--even if they faltered.  The final piece was the Giants grabbing Bruce Botchy--the bullpen master-- when San Diego surprisingly discarded him for not playing youngsters.  We'd eventually learn that Botchy doesn't mind youngsters--he just is loyal to his core players.   We'd also learn that Botchy is a master fitting players into roles they can excel at--especially the bullpen.   No one runs a game better than Botchy.  And while I crab that the Giants don't sign the big name free agent--no one is as astute as getting value as Brian Sabian. 

Its funny, while the Giants DIDN'T WIN for 50 years I had to "dream" of a team I never saw--the 1951 pennant winning (Bobby Thompson's home run) NY Giants and 1954 World Series (Sweep) Champs (Willie May's catch) NY Giants.  First team with an all Black outfield.  A second baseman,  Stanky the brat, who'd do jumping jacks in the field to distract the hitter and pull other shenanigans like a running tag up start that baseball needed to legislate against. Sal the Barber Maglie--the barber for all the fastballs he threw at the batters chin (he couldn't be the same doofus pitching coach in Jim Bouton's Ball Four.)  But in the three years between great finishes, a substantial part of their roster changed which I didn't understand.

So we have the 2010 World Champs.  Suddenly a few guys retire.  A few other guys sign elsewhere as free agents, or get traded.  Injuries and age hit a few key players who suddenly are nonfactors just two years later.  Basically the 2012 team has, save Buster Posey and a slimmer Pablo Sandoval, an entirely new lineup.  No big hitting connection with the 2010 team.

Two championships in three years.  Thank you Giants.  What a great sports year.  (PC)

But wait--the picthing staff, especially the relief corps that usually changes dramatically from year to year, is intact from the 2010 championship team.  In 2010 they could depend on crazy Brian Wilson but he's out for the year (but always around lending support) so the other relievers all step up.  Timmy, the kid wonder has a lousy year and all the other starters step up.    Wilson, Freddie Sanchez injured for the season, Melky Cabrera drug suspension--Brian Sabian and Bruce Botchy keep finding "the fix" and the player rally around. 

So 2012 is not like 2010, its icing on the cake.  While stats are really big in baseball the team concept really really counts--which the Moneyball guys can't measure.    Servais Knaven once said it doesn't matter who wins as long as its someone from his team.  This great team concept from my favorite cycling team, Domo Farm in 2001, jumped to my favorite baseball team, the Giants team in 2012. Each won the big prize.   How great is that?!

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