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Torture: It gets better?

Last year in their unfathomable world championship season, San Francisco Giants' victories were summed up with one word, courtesy of radio and television commentator Duane Kuiper: Torture. After the team had muddled along with brilliant pitching and an absentee offense for most of the season, the pitching tanked in August to put the team five games out of first place entering the month of September.

This year's curse, same as the first. Even the Bush administration would have had trouble finding legal justification for this year's San Francisco Gitmos. Labeled a preseason lock to win the weak National League West Division, the team has once again trudged through a horrendous August, falling five games back with a 7-0 loss to the hapless Chicago Cubs on Monday's LGBT Night at AT&T Park.

Go six innings and give up three or fewer runs and any other team will record that as a quality start. Do that for the Giants and they call it a loss â€" or, if the planets are aligned just so, a no-decision. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, who was undone two years ago on LGBT Night by a comedy of fielding errors, this year went the first six innings yielding just one fatal home run before everything collapsed in a five-run seventh.

Game results aside, this was the Giants' most successful LGBT Night in the event's nine-year history. A low point was in 2009 when, despite massive community input early in the spring, seemingly everything went wrong for the promotion. The supply of event T-shirts ran out, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco was euchred out of playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," the "kiss-cam" showed no same-sex couples, and LGBT Night was not even acknowledged with a scoreboard mention.

Last year's event was low-key and unremarkable. While it did sell out, there were fewer tickets available.

This time, despite a one-hour delay in getting the commemorative hats to the scheduled distribution spot, the promotional event was a smashing success. The 1,500 block tickets sold out weeks in advance. The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band played on the field before the game and during the seventh inning stretch and received a rousing ovation. Bevan Dufty's daughter Sidney Goldfader-Dufty got to shout "Play Ball!" which was shown on the big screen. The LGBT crowd was acknowledged repeatedly on the scoreboard and was panned by the cameras with regularity â€" including at least two same-sex couples during the eighth-inning kiss cam. And the entire crowd cheered the showing of the team's "It Gets Better" video â€" the first one made by any Major League Baseball team.

Sidney Goldfader-Dufty, the daughter of Rebecca Goldfader and mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty, shouts "Play Ball!" at the opening of the Giants-Cubs game Monday, which was LGBT Night at the ballpark. (Photo: Roby Chavez)

So, pretty cool.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco), who is leading the fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, was in attendance and waved when she was acknowledged on the big screen.

As for the fate of the team on the field? Well, everyone knows that September is when summer begins in San Francisco, and last year was a September to remember after that August to forget. Seemingly out of the blue, the team emerged refreshed and recharged for the most brilliant September sprint imaginable to clinch the division on the final weekend. The playoff and World Series victories were keyed by a power-hitting rookie catcher, a mass importation of other teams' castoffs, and pitching, pitching, pitching.

For now last year's rookie hero Buster Posey is working to recover from a season-ending injury that has sidelined him; and this year's power-hitting rookie hopeful, Brandon Belt, has shown an alarming susceptibility to inside curveballs. Last year's imports have not been clutch, but the team has stayed within striking distance despite a rash of injuries to key performers such as Freddie Sanchez and Brian Wilson. There's still time for the magic.

So click your ruby slippers together and say, "There's no place like the cove. There's no place like the cove."

Now bring on the Diamondbacks.


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