(Editor's note: While a victory in Game 1 may have eased many fans' worries, we can assure you Mr Gaughran's routine will not change any time soon.)
As with many cases, my story as a superstitious Giants fan started with a piece of clothing.
It was a hat. Not a great one by any means, actually more of an embarrassing hat. This hat was sold to commemorate Tsuyoshi Shinjo, a Japanese journeyman with orange wristbands who joined the Giants in 2002. He spent an unspectacular year swatting at curve balls too early or too late but he did it with style and when asked to play the outfield, with grace.
So when I saw a baseball cap at the park with Shinjo stitched across the front, I bought it. It was funny but it fit and I wore it often that year - the last year the Giants made it to the World Series.
When Shijo was let go I put the hat away. It migrated to a dark corner of the closet, slowly crushed by a sedimentary of too-small sweaters and too-tight pants. And then came 2010. When the Giants needed to beat the Padres in the last game of the season I dug into the corners of the closet and found it. I slapped it, snapped it and put it on my head. The Giants won. And I was lost.
When I came to work the next day the boss gave me a Playoffs 2010 hat. Throughout the Braves series I switched hats every game. The Shinjo hat won two games, the new hat won one. But it was the Shinjo hat that took game four and so it was the Shinjo hat that started the Championship Series against the Phillies. So far, so good except for one small detail I should probably mention. I’m watching the games through the tiny holes in the top of the hat. The holes are about an eighth of an inch across so I can’t see the whole screen. That started during the Braves series when the baseball games became horror films and I couldn’t bear to watch but simply could not look away. It’s the way I watched “Psycho” as a child in 1967.
Game one against the Phillies went according to plan with a few minor adjustments. I watched through the Shinjo hat but kept the new hat on my left knee, just in case. Oh, and I wore a Grateful Dead t-shirt. No problem. Giants win.
Serious trouble in game two. I was switching hats between innings and wearing a shirt with bats on it (small Mexican brown bats, the kind that live in caves) thinking the shirt might bring the Giants’ bats alive. I refused to say the word ‘Phillies” and watched through the holes at random intervals. All discipline out the window. Giants lose. But I have a day to regroup.
Now, the thing about weird habits is that they don’t seem all that weird until someone else sees you fidgeting away. So far I’d been tic-ing in relative solitude but that changed when I was offered a ticket to game three. I sat with co-workers, trying to converse, trying to act rationally, trying to be a grown-up about this. No good. I was like a drunk in a distillery. I bought a third hat before the game even started and later a Jerry Garcia pin in orange and black enamel.
I attached the pin to the Shinjo hat and stuffed the other two caps into my jacket. By the seventh inning I was watching just the first base line under the bill of the Shinjo hat. By the eighth inning I was watching every other pitch through the little holes. Especially the little hole on the front left part of the hat.
That hole really seemed to be on to something. By the end of the game I was watching through the Shinjo holes, rubbing the Garcia pin and balancing the two other caps on my knees. Co-workers whispered. The Giants won. You’re welcome.
Game 4: Shinjo hat on head, two caps on knees, one pin, Grateful Dead t-shirt, innings 7, 8 and 9 watched through the little holes. Giants win. Hallelujah. I have found the winning combination.
Let me say this about game five. I had the very best intentions. Cody Ross is from Carlsbad, New Mexico. I have a t-shirt from the minor league Albuquerque Isotopes. No brainer, right? Wear the Isotopes t-shirt for Cody. I put on the shirt and went to the Isotopes website to see if Cody Ross ever played for the Isotopes. That would make the shirt solid gold.
The Isotopes have two players on the Phillies. They are actually pulling for Philadelphia and they put it in writing and I was reading it!
I yanked off the shirt like it was filled with leeches. I have not touched it since. It’s there in the living room, balled up in the middle of the floor. Please. Stop thinking about it. It can hear you.
Back into the Grateful Dead shirt, three hats, a pin, the little holes, the Wednesday underwear and now, to negate the Isotopes shirt, a small piece of a meteorite that hit Russia in 1914. Don’t ask. I stuck the pin through two hats and wore them at the same time. Giants lose. Why, oh why did I let that Isotopes shirt touch my body? What’s wrong with me? I have doomed the team with my frantically inconsistent charms. There is only one way they will ever come back from Philly alive.
The ultimate sacrifice.
Saturday night. Game 6. Random clothes. No meteorite. TV off, phone turned all the way down. I found a movie that started about the same time as the game. “Inside Job.” A documentary about the financial collapse.
Alone in the back row with popcorn, a large Coke and Junior Mints. Instead of Sanchez, Uribe and Posey it was Greenspan, Bernanke and Paulson.
As the movie neared its end I could see my phone brighten through the fabric in my shirt. People calling, texting, calling again. I didn’t look until the credits rolled. Giants win. We’re going to the World Series.
Well, you’re going to the World Series.
I’m going to the movies. Seven movies if that’s what it takes.
I just have to figure out which hat to take and if 3D glasses work with the little holes.
Jim Gaughran is an executive producer at NBC Bay Area.