Pregame: Boycott Arizona! 17 Reasons Why!
If you haven’t checked out Deia De Brito’s 17 Reasons Remembered, it’s a great piece on vital Mission lore.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have come to town, an “SB1070 Road Show” attracting opposition in Denver, Miami and Houston to Arizona’s recently adopted “papers please” law. Saturday the law’s opponents called for a national day of opposition with rallies around the country, including one in front of Willie Mays Gate, where some 500 demonstrators denounced SB1070, the law that goes into effect at the end of July and requires police to ask suspects about their immigration status.
Today, in a brief melding of sports and politics, the demonstrators, many in Giants’ colors are calling for a boycott of Arizona and urging the hometown team to “Stomp the Snakes!” Fans gesture in support, but once inside the gate, their attention snaps back to the game as soon as they hear this: , “Starting at first base for your San Francisco Giants – Buster Posey!”
Inning One: Welcome Buster
Could there be a more compelling distraction for Giants’ fans? At this stage of the season, despite the Giants dreadful hitting deficiencies, we did not expect to see Gerald Dempsy Posey, from Leesburg, GA, even though, at 23, he is already being favorably compared to Jesus Christ. Yet the savior is here, standing well off the bag at first, head bouncing on a long neck like his bobble-head version on sale in the concession stands.
Jonathan Sanchez pitches for the Giants today, with his favorite battery-mate Eli Whiteside, behind the plate. Sanchez looks serious, maybe a little too serious. Maybe that’s just his “game face.”
Kelly Johnson leads off for the Vipers and smashes a hot ground ball just inside the first base line. Posey has no chance for it, but dives anyway. That’s the way they do it in Fresno. Johnson on second with a double; Sanchez leaves him there.
On the mound for the Snakes, the sorrowful Billy Buckner; he of the 0-2 record, the 9.90 earned run average (runs per nine innings allowed) and the 2.3 walks or hits he gives up per inning. Torres starts with a walk, followed by Freddy Sanchez who walks after nine pitches. Two long flies bring in Torres with the game’s first run. Uribe gets on with a hard hit to left and suddenly the Moment has arrived; Posey’s first MLB at bat is now. On Buckner’s third pitch, a 4-seam fastball, Posey hits a line shot over second, scoring Sanchez.
Inning Two: Politics and Sports
Some fans feel the sports bubble should be a politics-free zone, or as one guy high up on the View Deck put it, “I come here to escape the world.” It is a sentiment widely shared, and promoted, by the baseball moguls, as well as the proponents of the “papers please” law. The idea that if people don’t mix politics and sport, then sport, even the mega-entertainment-corporate-conglomerate sport like the MLB, will be free from political taint. Except if they share the politics being expressed. For example, Phil Jackson, coach of the L.A. Lakers, recently pleaded to keep the SB1070 controversy out of professional sports , and then launched into a rant in full support the Arizona law. Others, notably the Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash, have taken the opposite position, denouncing SB1070 “as a bad precedent to set for our young people”, as well as the space it opens for “racial profiling . . . racism.”
Inning Five: The Ghost of Barry Bonds Returns
Sanchez labors; he’s already thrown too many pitches and his strike-to-ball ratio ain’t good. He seems slow, hesitant, like he’s still in that space between waking and sleeping. Maybe he dreams he has a three run lead; and that Uribe and Whiteside have hit solo homers in the last two innings. Home runs? Yes, didn’t the Giants used to hit home runs? Don’t dream Jonathan, you just walked the pitcher, and that can bite you. Arizona lost the game when they did that last night. Pitch Jonathan. He does; putting down the top of the order.
Buckner can’t duplicate the effort. In the bottom of the fifth, three consecutive Giant singles bring in another run and Buster Posey back to the plate, this time with runners on first and second. He singles in another run. All the hits have been the same: sharp ground balls smack up the middle. Buckner is gone, 7-1 Giants.
Inning Seven: A Stretch
Like Phil Jackson, D-backs management say they eschew political positions, and that their Managing General Partner, Ken Kendrick has been unfairly maligned. Kendrick himself says he personally opposes SB1070. Despite his stated feelings on the matter and his stated distaste for mixing politics and sport, Kendrick hosted a fundraiser for a pro-SB1070 politician at Chase Field, a stadium built with public funds, during the Giants’ game last week.
But the issue goes beyond Kendrick’s personal political predilections, which are decidedly conservative. Major League Baseball plays a big role in keeping the Arizona economy on life support as half the 30 teams in the league hold spring training in the state. In addition to the ongoing distraction of the D-backs, Phoenix is scheduled to host the 2011 All-Star Game, another cash windfall for Phoenix swells. What the protesters in front of Willie Mays Gate were saying was that Major League Baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks and prominent individuals like Ken Kendrick enjoy a privileged position in Arizona matters and if they joined the campaign to repeal SB1070, they could make a difference. Good luck.
Inning Eight: Offensive Powerhouse
Nothing will save the Snakes. Giant hits, and runs, keep coming. In the bottom of the eighth, Sandoval and Ishakawa, hit consecutive doubles off the wall. Even Aaron Rowand, who’s been in a slump ever since he arrived, gets a hit, and by the end of the inning, the Giants have an unbelievable 16 hits and 12 runs! High in the View Deck fans are cheering and shaking their heads. Why don’t they save some of those runs for Colorado? Or San Diego?
Protesters have long gone by the time the stadium empties into a balmy (for SF) night. Fans linger taking pictures of each other in front of Willie Mays’ statue. “Oh yeah, I heard something about that,” says Harley, referring to SB1070. But the night belongs to Buster Posey: 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. And the Giants, at least for one night, are resurrected, only one game out of first.