One: Happy Thoughts
Tracing the route of the old Mission Creek on my way to the ballpark, I happen on Rex, a Mission street philosopher and a Giants’ fan since 1958. “Happy Yom Kippur,” he says when he sees me. In the Jewish religion, tonight is the night before the Day of Atonement, the night when you ask to be released from promises, vows, oaths etc. Although considered a very solemn occasion, it has been an object of controversy and debate over the centuries.
“It’s not really a happy occasion,” I say. “Yes, it is,” insists Rex with a satisfied smile. “Koufax won’t be pitching.” He’s referring to Sandy Koufax, the great Dodgers pitcher in the ‘60s, who famously did not open the 1965 World Series because he would not pitch on Yom Kippur.
Two: Blessed Art Thou O Posey
Koufax hasn’t pitched in more than 40 years. The Giants are not even playing the Dodgers tonight; they’re playing the Brewers from Milwaukee, and an old junkman on the mound — wait, that’s Randy Wolf, a left-hander like Koufax. A junkman it’s true, but last year he squelched the Giants with those off-speed breaking balls when he was with Los Angeles.
Expecting no fans to show up after the emotional Dodger series, the Giants give away orange t-shirts with Buster Posey’s name and number on the back. Before the game starts, the stands look like fields of California poppies. “We’re sold out tonight,” says Max a security guard. “Imagine that. You give something away for free, people will come.”
Only a 23-year-old rookie, Buster Posey currently leads the pantheon of San Francisco baseball gods (active). What does it feel like to be surrounded by tens of thousands of fans wearing your name and number? If Posey’s hitting falls off next year, and we hear stories of parties and poor conditioning, will we conclude that Posey is immature? Or will we wonder if the real reason Brian Sabean did not bring Posey here faster was because he feared the kid would get flattened by the Giants’ publicity machine.
Three: Oooooooo – Really?
Madison Bumgarner starts tonight for the Giants, efficiently getting two outs before Ryan Braun hits a good Bumgarner pitch down the third baseline past Juan Uribe, who just can’t get to it. Prince Fielder follows with a soft line drive to left center. Pat Burrell is in left, and tonight, Cody Ross plays center in place of Andres Torres, who we all know was betrayed by his appendix. Burrell hesitates an instant, either because of mis-communication or trouble seeing the ball. He won’t make it; neither will Ross and a run scores. Torres makes that catch.
It’s 1-0 Milwaukee at the end of one; and it’s 1-0 Milwukee at the end of three. Meanwhile balls keep getting hit past Uribe at third and in the second inning, he bobbles one ball for an error, then makes a bad throw to waste a double play opportunity. The generally solid, sometimes brilliant fielding Uribe moves like a tired old man.
Four: Fog Ball
“Uribe looks like he’s playing with appendicitis,” he says to her. “Is it contagious?” The kid has a point, but it’s not only Uribe; everybody but Bumgarner looks sick or like they’re playing in a fog.
Of course they are playing in a fog, a particularly wet fog. Further into the depths of the bleachers I meet Dave wearing Brewers’ gear and his friend Marcie. Dave is my first Brewers fan. “We’re really A’s fans,” says Dave. He says he’s surprised to see the Brewers playing “little ball” (bloop singles, bases stolen, capitalizing on defensive mistakes) since they are a power hitting team. He’s not surprised Randy Wolf is doing so well. Lefties have bothered the Giants since the days of Horace Stoneham. And Wolf’s also got good “stuff,” or I assume he does, based on the ineffective swings, anemic grounders and lazy fly balls being issued by the Giants.
Five: Agent Orange
She’s wearing a tight bright orange lycra body suit, with an orange hood over her head. She dances, slinks and poses with overweight men who think one happy thought, and it isn’t about Sandy Koufax.
Kyle’s ten years old and from Sacramento; he’s got an orange mohawk and his Posey shirt reaches the top of his shoes.
Elizabeth, who stays with her aunt in the Mission on game nights, has dyed her braided hair Giant orange. If by some chance the Giants don’t make the playoffs (and she doesn’t believe for one minute they won’t), she may dye her hair Warrior blue.
Orange is the color of dignity, pride and ambition.
Six: Should Someone Call a Doctor?
Gone are the rowdies shouting “Beat L.A.” Tonight bleacher fans sit hunched over on the metal benches, heads bowed, either feeling the pains of acute appendicitis, or silently praying. Why doesn’t the Giants’ audio-visual team play Hava Nagila? It doesn’t have anything to do with Yom Kippur, but the last time they played Hava Nagila Edgar Renteria was batting. And look, Renteria is batting now. With Hava Nagila playing in the background, Renteria homered. Without Hava Nagila, he strikes out.
Seven: Sign of the Times
Gina holds up a sign: “Kruk Kuip is my religion.” Does she invoke a pre-Colombian deity or a New Age guru? No. For those like my editor who hasn’t a clue, Kruk Kuip refer to Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, former Giants players. They do the local television broadcast now and have, obviously, attracted a cult following.
Eight: Let’s Go Giants
Sitting next to the left field foul pole, two rows up from the field; one row behind Britney and her little brother’s friend Robert. With the Giants now trailing 3-0 after a remarkably bad throw to the plate by Jeremy Affeldt, the game is thankfully almost over. Things may look dim
for the Giants – Aubrey Huff is either playing in extreme pain or serious exasperation – but that does not deter Britney from standing up in front of her section to lead cheers for the Giants at the top of her voice, rallying the crowd for one last pathetic charge. It’s the first time she’s ever done anything like this. Someone has to take responsibility, I can hear her saying ten years from now.
Nine: Judgement Day is coming
At the corner of King and 3rd a sign reads “What Will You Say on Judgment Day?” That depends. Judgment Day is only 14 games away. With San Diego losing and Colorado winning, the 2010 version of “your” San Francisco Giants still holds the slimmest of leads in the National League Western Division.