Monday, September 16, 2013

Fantasmas de San Francisco: Kilowatt

So not everything that happened in San Francisco was sad or heartbreaking. Like when the Giants rolled through the postseason in 2010.

It was a Saturday night. October 23, 2010. The Giants were scheduled to square off against the Phillies for Game 6 in Philadelphia up 3-2 in the series. Like so many other Mission District residents, I got swept up in the series as every other night in October the bars became packed with fans watching the Giants' postseason games. That evening, I somehow forgot about Game 6 once I went over to my friend David’s house to have a dinner with him and his partner, Jimmy. A few months before, Davidcito’s cancer had returned. The outlook wasn’t bright. Having dinner with a friend who was withering away was far more important than a measly baseball game, especially since I didn’t consider myself a Giants fan.

After I ate with David and Jimmy, I walked home down Guerrero Street listening to my iPod. As I approached Valencia Street—the heart of Hipster-Gentrified-landia—I heard a collective roar from Elixir, the old bar on the corner of 16th and Guerrero. Oh shit, the game!. And just like that, the tranquil spirit forged from the dinner with my dying friend was jolted out of me from all the cheering Giants fans in the vicinity. I scurried down 16th to Kilowatt, a dive-ier joint than Elixir. Once I entered the crowded bar, I saw Brian Wilson walk to the plate against Brad Lidge, the Giants leading by one. A big wide grin came over me. I was beyond elated to have happened upon this most exquisite moment of the game—the Giants up one run on the road with three outs separating them from a World Series birth. Once Wilson chopped a ball down to first base, I clapped along with many of the fans at Kilowatt, shouting and murmuring phrases like “Three outs away!”

Amidst a crowd peppered in black and orange, I cheered with abandon as Wilson began the 9th by inducing a groundout to Freddy Sanchez. Like everyone at the bar, I became infused with a palpable sense of panic and tension as Wilson walked Jimmy Rollins to the delight of the Phillies fans on the TV. We cheered, ready to go bonkers (or rage) as Polanco grounded to third for a fielder’s choice, the Giants and Wilson’s Mighty Beard one out from the World Series. Then Utley walked on a 4-1 count, a classic embodiment of the Giants torturous-winning ways. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard came up to the plate with two men on, tying run on second.

All eyes were glued to the televisions behind the bar. (In moments like those, TVs might as well be phosphorescent oracles.) First pitch a wild swing and a miss on a 96-mph pitch outside. Then a ball up high followed by a ball inside to make it 2-1. Wilson countered with an 89 mph slider that painted the outside part of the strike zone. Howard and the Phillies were down to their last strike, Philly fans groaning as San Francisco fans inside Kilowatt roared. Howard stepped out of the batting box as Fox cut to shot after shot of Phillies fans covering their mouths or eyes. Three pitches later, the crazy-tense standoff between Wilson and Howard concluded with Howard watching a cut fastball called for strike three.

Bedlam ensued as Posey and the rest of the Giants trotted over to Wilson. A deafening roar erupted from all of us gathered inside the bar, inside bars and homes in the 415. Everyone was hooting and hollering, slapping hands with anyone around. It's like we all won the lottery. When Aubrey Hoff was interviewed after the game and Jose Uribe's 8th inning deciding home run was mentioned, the crowd inside Kilowatt erupted with a chant of OOOOOOOOOO, RIIIBE!!! It was beautiful.

The city was wild alive that night. Until the early morning hours, the Mission rang with a cacophony of celebratory car honks and random hoots that could only be Giants related. In the six and a half years I lived in San Pancho, I had never witnessed such a happening.

About a week later, the streets and forty-seven hills of San Francisco roared again as the Giants captured the World Series 4-1 against the Tuck Fexas Rangers. (A big fuck you, George W!) I attended the Giants victory parade in downtown, a delirious 45 minutes of Panda-monium and screaming and hooting and uninhibited collective elation. To this day, it’s still one of my fondest memories from living in San Francisco. One of my most astounding memories ever.


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