Autumn 2002: The World Series is a unicoastal event.
I knew little of baseball. Yet, being then a partisan Southland dweller, I wanted the Angels to beat the britches off the Giants. I scheduled my life around the game broadcasts. I watched with the ardor of a new convert–one who didn’t know the catechism, the dogma, or the stats. When the Angels scored their run in inning 9 and everyone rushed out onto the field, I didn’t get it. The inning wasn’t over–why had they stopped playing?
Flash forward to 2009: The Giants win the Series! The Giants win the Series! The Giants win the Series! (Against the Rangers.)
And I am again in San Francisco. I got caught among the massive crowds heading downtown the morning of the victory celebration. Hundreds of thousands of people came, and we all sought egress from the city at rush hour. By then the merrymaking had given way to some tired testiness, but it struck me how calm the fans remained for the most part.
Many Southlanders exhibit equally boundless enthusiasm for their team. Yet, even on a packed freeway heading away from Dodger Stadium, the non-fan can be insulated from it in his automotive bubble. Game day in San Francisco often means being pressed among the fans in orange. Listening to them, one shares their fun and learns that for them, their team is part of their city and part of them.
Horrifically violent behavior by supposed fans cannot be ignored or downplayed. Yet baseball connects the unicoastal cultures. There are Giants among men, there are Dodgers practicing their art, the Athletics may be California’s most enduring green initiative.
And wherever I am, I believe in Angels.