by Rob Deer (posted by Dr Lefty)
When I was young, the Russian River was a frequent getaway for our family. It seemed like paradise as a kid, but most places outside of South San Francisco had an ethereal quality. Spending the day there and then popping over to Negri’s in Occidental and having ravioli was a must. It didn’t hurt that occasionally my childhood crush, Jenny Snyder, would be there with her family, and I’d steal glances and swoon over any extended eye contact. I still have a vivid memory of one of those moments as “When Doves Cry” played over the snack bar speakers. When you’re 12, times like that are forever etched in your brain. However, my fondest memories of the River are from when I was still young enough to require flotation device assistance, and that’s when my Underdog inner-tube would be unleashed, and I knew no kid could match my speed in that super vessel. What’s better than a victorious underdog?
Some sports results stand out above others and more often than not what they have in common is a David taking down a Goliath. If you flip through your mental snapshots, you can probably recall exactly where you were in 1980 when the Russians got Placid-ed by the USA. I was at my uncle’s in Daly City, and he and my stepfather telling me our young kids had absolutely no chance versus the vaunted Red Army only stoked my nine-year-old passion. What’s better than being that age, knowing the long odds and then feeling hope swell within you when you realize that it could actually happen? Say what you will about Al Michaels’ recent Super Bowl performance, his “Do you believe in miracles?” is an iconic call. What other five words uttered by an announcer tell you exactly what game is being referenced? If you haven’t seen the movie “Miracle,” it’s actually a pretty solid watch. I had my doubts when I saw Kurt Russell was playing Herb Brooks, but he did a commendable job. Not Oscar-worthy like Jack Burton and the Porkchop Express, but what could equal that performance?
Shocking the world is a rare occurrence in sports. As a sports fan, when you see such a possibility unfolding, you’re drawn to the Dog. Unless you’re from Virginia or had the Cavs winning it all in your bracket, how were you not rooting for the Retrievers of Maryland, Baltimore County to be the first #16 seed to take out a #1? How can you not be rooting for Loyola Chicago to win the whole thing? Sometimes, of course, an underdog will break your heart. I loved Georgetown as a kid and when they got Massimino-ed in ‘84 by Villanova, it crushed me (what was worse, that loss or losing in the final seconds to NC in ‘82 when Fred Brown inexplicably passed the ball to James Worthy?). But we live for the upset. Speaking of 1984, you probably also remember exactly where you were when Daniel Larusso came out of nowhere to win the All Valley Karate Championships. I believe Vegas had him as a 1000-1 shot. You just never know.
Which brings us to our Giants. We were underdogs in all three of our title runs. I still can’t believe Texas was favored to beat us in ‘10 after we dispatched the mighty Phils. Those championships would’ve been sweet regardless, but to do it in such an under the radar fashion made those teams even more lovable. This ‘18 squad is going to have to do the same, and who gets the sense that they’re going to surprise some people? OK, put your hands down. I know who does and doesn’t believe this. However, I feel we could put together a special season, but I should probably qualify that by saying I have a wild and vivid imagination. For example, sometimes when I refer to Greek Giant as GG, it conjures up this fanciful notion that he’s Gordon Gecko and I’m the young, industrious Bud Fox who’s just exploded onto the Wall Street scene and purchased a luxurious Manhattan apartment with the most amazing view, only to have Darryl Hannah come in and destroy the whole thing with some truly god-awful art and fake brick wall, like she studied interior designing under Otho from Beetlejuice.
OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I wrote everything above last Thursday night. I went golfing Friday morning high on life, figuring I’d resume this post when I returned home. Then Bum happened. You see where it was going, I was sprinkling pixie dust and about to go Full Optimist Rogue. I had no choice but to step away from it for a couple days to gather some intestinal fortitude. Rereading it now, I just feel deflated, like somebody punctured my Underdog inner tube and then whisked Jenny Snyder away for a frosty and their own private interlude. Gordon Gecko isn’t my friend, we’re standing in the rain in Central Park, and he’s just punched me in the face and disdainfully thrown his hankie at me. You see, I had crunched the numbers, done the math, checked the Zodiac calendar, the tarot cards and the tea leaves and decided we could win 90 games. How is that possible, you ask? Simple. Bum was poised for a massive season. We win 30 games that he starts. Cueto pitches like he did two years ago, and we win 26 games he starts. We then go .500 in all the other games and boom! 90 wins!! You’re questioning this or doubting the math? I thought you might, so here you go. As you can see, this proves it.
Not even CC nor Bapah in their analytical brilliance could dismiss such concrete evidence. But now is not the time to fold the tents and start rooting for an abysmal season and another high draft pick. You wanna do that, go buy a Cleveland Browns We’re #1 puffy foam finger. I obviously wasn’t expecting such a steep hill to climb when I began writing this post (and who the hell allowed this? I have to say I’ve lost a lot of respect for this blog for allowing me to contribute. Like going to your favorite restaurant and them allowing you to man the kitchen. Sure, you’re excited but you can’t help but question their intelligence. And this is a ridiculously long parenthetical aside), but I did choose an underdog theme so let’s sally forth.
I think we’re better equipped to deal with the loss of Bum this year than last. We’re going to score more runs and play better defense. I don’t want to inundate you with graphics, but trust me when I say I have the pie charts to back this up. While it is a gut punch, I’d rather be punched before the match starts than in the 4th round. Our team knows what it has in store for them from the get-go, and I expect us to band together. This is all going to be a moot point if our starting pitchers have an ERA over 5 but let’s not prepare for the apocalypse just yet. Let’s expect some magic, maybe petition for a Mike Eruzione or Mr. Miagi bobblehead night. As Daniel Larusso proved, you never know. Hell, TO could actually compliment me on this post. Do you believe in miracles?