Being a 90s baby in 2019 is hard. We are stuck between the older generation who sees us as children and the younger generation who thinks we are almost dead at 30. I was raised on hard work, which included a little yelling when I got in trouble. Yell at someone who was born in the late 90s or 2000s and you’re probably getting fired from a job.
Being a 90s baby also meant growing up on Jumanji. Perhaps the filmmakers didn’t realize it at the time, but Robin Williams’ character, Alan Parrish, would later become the perfect embodiment of the struggle of someone born in the early 90s. Parrish was once a well-mannered resident of Brantford, New Hampshire, but after remaining trapped in the Jumanji jungles for 26 years, he became hardened and strict—snapping at the Shepherd children who unwittingly released the dark magic of Jumanji onto the world.
Perhaps I now feel some connection to Alan Parrish, feeling as though my upbringing was a jungle environment that is decidedly different than that of kids today. Perhaps I felt some connection to Alan going into the 2019 Stanford baseball season, but the truth is, I felt more like Alan’s father, Sam Parrish, who was never around for Alan.
I chose to protest the current baseball season. The endings of the 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons were hurtful. Being a national seed that could not escape its own regional felt like a betrayal. Some might be offended by my reaction. But it doesn’t matter. To me, our baseball program needed to earn back my respect. So, I waited for them do so.
Fast forward to this past weekend where Stanford hosted another regional. Family and friends begged me to attend the games with them. I refused. Stanford baseball hadn’t earned me back. I wasn’t raised on cupcakes, and I treated Stanford baseball the only way I knew how to: with strict discipline.
I was fully prepared to watch Stanford lose in another regional round. I began writing an article way back in March about what I “knew” would happen in the regional round. After Stanford lost to Fresno State on Saturday night, I was putting the finishing touches on that article. It wasn’t something I enjoyed writing, but facts are facts. I found myself just waiting for the inevitable.
Then something entirely different happened.
Stanford beat Fresno State once…. I said: “They have to do it again.” Monday night, I finally saw the anger and passion come out of a team that had waited so long to show genuine emotion. The program that won 125 regular season games over the last three years finally showed itself. They were down, but in that moment, they showed a fire I hadn’t seen all season long.
That is what I’d been waiting for. Stanford proved that it could execute when the stakes are high. And I was reminded—even in my grizzled ways—why this is the team I love.
The road ahead is difficult: Stanford will be the underdog this weekend, and an easy excuse is now built in: if we lose to Mississippi State—hey—that’s what we were supposed to do all along! But if the team reframes the narrative, we might walk away with an entirely different outcome. We’re out of Palo Alto on a business trip, two wins away from the College World Series in Omaha. We face a Mississippi State team that is a national seed, but was alternating with us at #3 and #4 all season long. It’s not a gimme, but if we’re determined to show the same fire we unleashed on Fresno, why shouldn’t we pull out a victory?
In Jumanji, Alan Parrish realizes his error when, because of Alan’s words, Peter begins (literally) devolving into a monkey. In that moment, Alan realizes that his harsh tone was alienating Peter, the same way Alan’s own father once alienated him. Although Alan once felt anger, he and Peter began working together to put an end to the board game’s spell.
I might feel anger toward Stanford baseball. But even when I’m mad, I still love you. It’s a 90s thing.