On Monday night, I hung back in the shadows of the Oak Tree Northwest Bar & Grill and watched my friends, clad as they were in the black and gold of the San Francisco Giants, roar and drink and high-five their way through nine innings of baseball.
The final pitch sent their Giants to the World Series to face the Detroit Tigers. My friends hugged each other. They high-fived some more and hugged some more. They drank some more and hugged and high-fived.
I hung back in the shadows like the shriveled, angry toad-man I've become in my old age and glared at them as they drank, hugged, high-fived and roared.
For a moment, I hated them. But only for a moment.
And then I envied them.
I could say something about how this is the 104th year since my Chicago Cubs have sniffed championship glory. But I won't.
(Dear Cubs fans: Stop fetishizing the pinpoint number — 104 — since our last World Series. This is one place where specifics really don't matter. Just say "more than a century." Anything more than 100 years is disheartening enough. Why wedge the knife in our backs deeper?)
Thing is, I have come to enjoy the Giants in my time living on the West Coast.
What other team west of the Rocky Mountains would I pull for? Surely not the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? The Oakland A's? The Seattle Mariners?
The L.A. teams are eliminated because I don't do teams from Southern California. I lump them in with Boston and New York teams in my hate list.
Oakland is cute with its "Moneyball" ethos, but the Tony LaRussa, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco meatheads-on-roids era still puts me off.
I could dig the Mariners, if a gun was put to my head. Great stadium, cool uniforms and I like Seattle. But they don't seem to have a plan in place to compete and have been shellshocked as a franchise since tying major league baseball's regular-season record in 2001 with 116 wins and promptly getting trounced in the playoffs by the New York Yankees.
So the Giants are my West Coast second-tier team.
I've made yearly trips to AT&T Park, and it is truly an amazing experience.
In addition, this particular team, with its cast of weirdos like Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo and the recently acquired Hunter Pence (who looks like some dude you'd see wandering White City at 5 in the morning following a meth binge), its stone-faced soldiers like Matt Cain and token fat guy like Pablo Sandoval, are easy to root for.
They are the opposite of the Yankees team the Tigers just swept aside like prison punks.
Good god, I don't see how the people of the Bronx aren't storming the walls of that $1 billion monstrosity desecrating the corpses of Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle.
Listen, I despise the Yankees, but it's depressing to see the sport's flagship team reduced to this sad state.
Watching Derek Jeter pretend to interact with this crop of overpaid mercenaries such as Pay-Rod Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira is painful. I couldn't believe the lineup they stuck out there to beat a cohesive Tigers team. Eduardo Nunez and Eric Chavez? Really?
I imagine the following scenario occurred at some point this season:
The scene: Yankee Stadium, game day. The Players: Derek Jeter, aka, The Captain. Eduardo Nunez, aka, Scrub.
Nunez (approaching Jeter on the dugout steps): "Hey, Mr. Jeter. Fine day for a game, eh?"
Jeter: "Who are you?"
Nunez: "Um ... I'm a utility infielder brought in to ... "
Jeter: "Do you want an autograph or something? Go sit down."
This is exactly why Giants fans should be thankful the Baseball Gods have smiled upon them, blessing their fans with a team of try-hard, likeable weirdos.
In fact, they are a lot like my friends at the Oak Tree that night.
Sure, I hated them for a few moments. Then envied them.
But, in the end, I was happy for their happiness.
Hopefully, they reciprocate the sentiment if, Baseball Gods willing, my Cubs don't wait another century before their next World Series victory.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email email@example.com.