By  |  November 2, 2010 | 

Well, it’s over. A ragtag group of has-beens, oddballs, castaways, newbies, and misfits combined grit, teamwork, flawless decision-making and jaw dropping pitching to bring the World Series crown to the Bay, the first time ever. Just last week, we wondered why Renteria hadn’t been cut; tonight, he’s the toast of the town and there’s dancing in the streets. Amazing.

The Giants’ motto this year was “torture,” and, although the games all year were certainly ulcerogenic, there was nothing more tortured than my son’s trek to San Francisco to see Games 1 and 2. While Doug describes it on his blog, I thought I’d offer a dad’s-eye view of an amazing day of, well, metaphorical water boarding.

1991-2010: My oldest son Doug becomes a SF Giants maniac. He leaves for college in Ann Arbor in 2009; his life’s goal is to become the Giants’ general manager.

August, 2010: With the Giants in the pennant race and Doug treating his brother tolerably and calling his grandparents periodically, we make an offer: If the Giants get into the World Series, we’ll fly him back to SF for a couple of games. At the time of the offer, the team is three games off the pace in the NL West, their star is a rookie catcher who looks like he’s 14, and they have no mojo. It seems like a safe bet.

October 23, 2010: Shockingly, the Giants clinch the NL playoffs, defeating the powerhouse Phillies. I go onto StubHub and buy him tickets to game 1 and 2; I’ll accompany him to game 1. Tickets to World Series games, $650; I’m hoping that the priceless part will kick in and dull the pain. Almost as an afterthought, I book him on a Delta round trip, leaving Tuesday night and returning to Detroit on Friday morning (games 1 and 2 are Wednesday and Thursday). I send him the info.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010, noon: Doug calls me. “Dad, I’m just looking at the plane tickets you bought. The date on the ticket is November 2nd, next Tuesday.” My heart sinks.

Tuesday, 12:02 pm: On the web and the phone to Delta. No other non-stops to SF tonight. There is a connector through Atlanta (for those of you who have forgotten your geography, that’s the wrong direction) that gets into SF at about 1 am, a 9-hour trip. Or there’s a non-stop Wednesday, leaving Detroit at 9 am. Doug is leaning toward the Atlanta extravaganza; he was all set to leave tonight and (in what would prove to be a vast understatement) adds, “I’m not really a morning person.” Stupidly, I convince him to do the “sensible” thing and take the morning non-stop. The change fee is a few hundred bucks, but at this point it’s a rounding error.

Wednesday, 4:50 am (Pacific time): My phone rings. Dear God, I think, please don’t tell me he’s overslept. And sure enough, he has – his 3-year old cell phone’s alarm has malfunctioned, and, flush with the optimism of youth, he hasn’t set a backup. “Go grab a cab and get to Detroit Airport,” I bark. “I’ll find a flight.” While I’m miffed at him, it’s not exactly like I have clean hands in the matter.

Wednesday, 6:15 am Pacific, 9:15 am Eastern: The nice Delta phone lady has found an option – a flight to Minneapolis leaving about 10 am, a brief layover, and a connector to SF. It’ll arrive at about 2 pm, plenty of time for a 4:30 first pitch. But she can’t book the seats by phone since he’s already checked in on the web for the morning flight he’s just missed. “There are plenty of seats open. He can book them when he gets to the airport,” she says reassuringly. I call him and tell him the good news.

Wednesday 6:40 am: He’s at the airport. Of course, the flights to Minneapolis are booked. I’m frantically clicking through Orbitz looking for alternatives. I find one: “There’s a US Air flight to Phoenix leaving in an hour, you’ll have about 45 minutes to transfer to the flight to SF. It’ll arrive just in time for the game.” He asks the Delta counter agent if she can book it, and she does. “I literally jumped over the counter and gave the (quite startled) woman a huge hug before running off to catch my flight,” he wrote on his blog. Another $350. Ka-ching, but who’s counting.

Wednesday, 8-10 am: I’m tracking the flight to Phoenix. As Murphy would have it, storms in the Midwest are slowing things down – he’ll have about 20 minutes to change planes. Luckily, my little iPhone Flight Status app tells me that the gates are nearly adjacent. I text him: “Should still be fine – you land at gate A7, and you leave gate A12.”

Wednesday, 1 pm: I check my Flight Status app. They’ve changed the arrival gate to B7. He lands and sprints through the airport like OJ Simpson. He makes his connection by 12 minutes.

Wednesday, 3:45 pm: He lands at SFO, I pick him up and we arrive at the game just in time for the National Anthem.

And here he is, next to McCovey Cove.

That, my friends, is priceless.

p.s. If you’re in Ann Arbor, Doug is organizing a parade, Wednesday from 4-7
pm, beginning at South U and Washtenaw and ending at the Union. “The San
Francisco Giants are World Series Champions,” he writes on his Facebook
. “Ann Arbor needs a parade.”

p.s.s. Thanks to Fierce Healthcare for naming me as “one of 10 bloggers we’re thankful for” today.

p.s.s.s. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to healthcare in a couple of days. But tonight’s a night for celebration.


  1. Jerod November 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    What a fun read. Priceless indeed.

  2. admin November 4, 2010 at 9:35 am - Reply

    What an amazing experience.

  3. Davis Liu, MD November 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    It’s moments like these that are supremely stressful, exhilarating, and fun that make life (and children) truly memorable. Thanks for sharing and putting a smile on my face!

  4. ndmd11 November 15, 2010 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    Great story. These Giants remind me a lot of the 2004 Red Sox…a bunch of seemingly “ragtag” players without a mega-star who beat the odds and won the Series. Even though I am not a Giants fan it was fun to watch.

  5. Mel November 19, 2010 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    And I thought sports writers were some of the best writers, Bob. Fun series and a good read. Heart thumping experience all around. What a Dad! Thanks for sharing, Mel….A heart broken Phillies fan.

  6. billquilten November 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    How is it torture when waterboarding is a strenous situation for a short moment and there are not physical long or short term effects.

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About the Author:

Robert M. Wachter, MD is Professor and Interim Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he holds the Lynne and Marc Benioff Endowed Chair in Hospital Medicine. He is also Chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine. He has published 250 articles and 6 books in the fields of quality, safety, and health policy. He coined the term hospitalist” in a 1996 New England Journal of Medicine article and is past-president of the Society of Hospital Medicine. He is generally considered the academic leader of the hospitalist movement, the fastest growing specialty in the history of modern medicine. He is also a national leader in the fields of patient safety and healthcare quality. He is editor of AHRQ WebM&M, a case-based patient safety journal on the Web, and AHRQ Patient Safety Network, the leading federal patient safety portal. Together, the sites receive nearly one million unique visits each year. He received one of the 2004 John M. Eisenberg Awards, the nation’s top honor in patient safety and quality. He has been selected as one of the 50 most influential physician-executives in the U.S. by Modern Healthcare magazine for the past eight years, the only academic physician to achieve this distinction; in 2015 he was #1 on the list. He is a former chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and has served on the healthcare advisory boards of several companies, including Google. His 2015 book, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age, was a New York Times science bestseller.


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