There will be no World Series for the San Francisco Giants this year, but fans like Bora Reed cherish memories of a thrilling season like no other.
Last September, I drove along a vast stretch of Highway 80 with my husband and adult daughter, listening to a baseball game. We were returning to the Bay Area after backpacking in Colorado, a last-minute detour to avoid the wildfires ravaging parts of California. The Giants were at home, playing the Atlanta Braves and leading 4–2, until Atlanta scored three runs to pull ahead. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and down to his last strike, Giants second baseman Donovan Solano hit a home run to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Our car erupted in cheers.
The 2021 Giants were projected to be good-to-middling, maybe winning 75–80 games. They went on to win 107 games and the division. In doing so, they gave me a feeling sorely lacking in this difficult pandemic season: I felt cheerful.
Last week, the season ended for San Francisco. Fans of other teams will continue riding the postseason roller coaster, while Giants’ fans contemplate both a disappointing loss and the magic of a season like no other.
Here’s what I’ll remember: we’re barreling down I-80, the night so black we could’ve been hurtling through space. It’s the bottom of the eleventh now, the game still tied. The bases are loaded with just one out, but the Giants have run out of position players to pinch-hit so the manager, Gabe Kapler, sends pitcher Kevin Gausman to the plate. We groan. Pitchers are generally terrible batters. Gausman hits a sac fly to right field and from third base, Brandon Crawford breaks for the plate and executes a perfect fade-away slide. Once again, the Giants win. And there we are — my husband, daughter, and me — beleaguered from the year, still grimy with Colorado dirt, flying through the dark expanse and screaming for joy.
With a Perspective, I’m Bora Lee Reed.
Bora Lee Reed is the communications director for UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.