I used to call myself a “long-suffering” San Francisco Giants fan — until 2010, when the team won the World Series, and I then promised myself that I would never again disparage the Giants, at least not in that sort of fatalistic manner. I’ve made good on that promise so far, and even though the 2011 campaign was a bit disappointing, especially from a defending-world-champions perspective, the memory of the 2010 honeymoon still lingers fresh in my mind (and besides, the 49ers’ improbable run last year really helped to ease the pain of the Giants missing the playoffs). But as a Giants fan, I endured many lean years growing up — the Candlestick Years — years that I shall never forget: I was at Game 3 of the World Series in 1989 when the earthquake struck, and I’d be a liar if I said that I didn’t think about that night every single time that I drive over the Bay Bridge. When is the next Big One going to hit the Bay Area? I will always wonder.
As a young lad, I had Giants season tickets with my dad in 1984, a year in which the Giants lost 96 games, finishing 26 games behind the San Diego Padres (with their Taco Bell uniforms) in the NL West. The season was absolutely abysmal on many levels, and the sheer futility wasn’t lost on me, even as a child. Of course, things became even worse in 1985, when the Giants lost 100 games, and finished 33 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. Talk about hitting rock bottom. Statistics help to fill in the hazy memories of my youth, but one vivid memory that I do retain from the 1984 season was the Crazy Crab, the short-lived, ironic (not iconic) Giants mascot that served as the martyr of Candlestick Park. It was a mascot designed for despisal, something to divert attention from the team itself, no doubt. I can still recall fans raining full cups of beer on the Crazy Crab; the ‘Stick was plenty uncouth in those days, but in an innocent way, if that makes any sense.
Fast forward to the present, with a new stadium and a winning team, and we’ve become sophisticates in San Francisco. We now have grilled sourdough crab sandwiches, like the one pictured above, which is sold at the Crazy Crab’z food stand, located behind the outfield of AT&T Park. Although times have changed, I view it as a vestige of my early years; the food stand is branded with the image of that goofy-looking mascot from 1984. I sneer at it while I’m in line. I have to. It’s in my blood. However, the sandwich itself is tasty, with about as much crab as you might expect for $16 at the ballpark. Not a total rip-off, but they’re certainly not giving these sandwiches away, either. On the upside, the grilled sourdough bread is saturated with butter, which adds to the richness, and least makes the sandwich more filling.
I couldn’t imagine growing up with this kind of food at the ballpark. But then again, in those early days, I couldn’t have ever imagined that the Giants would win a World Series.