Bringing back orange and black: A historic season


Desiree Luo

The San Francisco Giants face the Los Angeles Dodgers tomorrow night in a decisive Game 5 of the NLDS series. This column explores a fan’s perspective on the Giants’ legendary 2021 season.

by Desiree Luo, Assistant Sports Editor

When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series on an October evening in 2014, I was in ballet class in Fremont, with my left hand resting on a barre and my right toe tracing the floor. My fellow ballerinas and I gazed at our reflections in the mirror, all of us dressed in tight black leotards and pink tights with our legs drawing circles around ourselves. I heard the ring right after class as I took off my ballet slippers — it was my dad. The hum of background conversations muffled his voice as he spoke, but I perfectly understood his message: the Giants triumphed over the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of the World Series. 

With their 2014 World Series victory, their third in five years, the Giants stood at the top of the world, and their fans stood right beside them. Fans, reporters and even celebrities praised players Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Pablo “Panda” Sandoval and Madison “MadBum” Bumgarner, the star pitcher who spearheaded the Game 7 win. 

Whenever he drove me to school in the mornings, my dad would switch the radio from my mom’s classical music to local sports station KNBR. This habit of his served as my introduction to the Giants during third grade and, eventually, a rabbit hole of sports knowledge about players, games, commentators and the path towards the 2012 and 2014 World Series. My dad and I attended several Giants games at AT&T Park (now named Oracle Park), and I still remember the view of the crystalline bay that the TV does not do justice. 

From 2014 onward, their fortunes dimmed. Panda left shortly after their 2014 win, the Chicago Cubs defeated them at the start of the 2016 playoffs, and legendary manager Bruce Bochy retired in 2019 after statistical numbers fell dramatically. Injuries plagued Posey, Crawford and Belt, who seemingly became shadows of the All-Stars they once were. I joined in the dismay of Giants fans when newly joined President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi did not re-sign MadBum. As new faces and jersey numbers entered the roster, I stopped learning their names. And then came 2020, a year that lacked regular season games and car rides with my dad. A year during which my interest in baseball stagnated. 

The Giants changed in those seven years since their last World Series. I changed, too. I no longer visit the ballet studio every Thursday afternoon. Instead, I am a sophomore in high school who spends Thursday evenings completing chemistry homework. Extracurriculars continue to dominate a large portion of my life, although I now draw circles in art class instead of ballet. But baseball crept through these changes and stayed, and this year, it fully re-emerged. Because, for the first time in five years, the Giants are back in the playoffs. 

The start of the 2021 season seemed like many others that came before it—mediocre. An influx of newcomers joined the team, meaning that I could no longer match a player’s name to his face like I did before. But from April to October, the Giants, who hardly seemed a threat to other teams in the league during spring training, won 107 regular season games, breaking a franchise record and clinching a spot in the playoffs as the champions of the National League West. With an unsettling number of 106 wins, their longtime archnemesis, the Los Angeles Dodgers, latched onto a wild card spot and invaded the Giants’ path to redemption. 

Tomorrow night, the Giants and Dodgers face off in a historic final game of a playoff series that will determine which team advances to the National League Championship Series. Having lasted for decades, the SF-LA rivalry ignites a flare in the eyes of even the mellowest fans, so as an avid supporter of orange and black, my dad absolutely abhors the Dodgers, and I would avidly chant “Beat LA” alongside him if I could witness this moment live. 

I plan to complete chemistry homework tomorrow evening, like I frequently do on Thursdays. But I will also make sure to constantly keep an eye on the score of the game. Although I may not have time to appreciate them in their fullest glory, I will make time for the Giants, because they have always stayed with me. Now that they are back in championship contention, I might as well cheer them on as much as I can, win or lose.

It’s time for the rally flags. It’s time for the jersey wear. It’s time for the orange and black to dominate.