Near the banks of Mission Creek, I meet Walker, a Mission street philosopher, self-proclaimed hipster (the only one I’ve ever met), and legendary Giants fan. I ask him to share his thoughts with Mission Local readers on the upcoming National League Championship Series (NLCS) between our San Francisco Giants and their Philadelphia Phillies.
I sit, he lies, on the sidewalk at 16th and Bryant, talking baseball in the ghostly shadows of Seals Stadium. Here are his nine ways of looking at a playoff series.
It’s about San Francisco, dudes: the hills, the underground lakes and creeks, the fog. What about the game? Who cares about the game? This is the biggest party this city has seen since…the Folsom Street Fair. It’s a time to celebrate San Francisco (the City, not the Chamber of Horrors Commerce or GiantsInc. — got that?).
2. City of Brotherly Love?
SF wins this one hands down, or up; whatever.
3. Pitching — Them
The Phillies start a boring bunch of old farts who can blow hitters away — in more ways than one. Yes, they throw sinkers and such, and yes they can break a ball any way but up (though some say they do that, too). They’ve got speed, craft, but mostly they are wickedly accurate, repeatedly nicking the inside or the outside 2.5 inches of the 17-inch plate. Two of their starting stars are named Roy. Need I say more?
4. Pitching — Us
Like a frog in a fairy tale, the Freak has stepped aside for the Hipster Prince. Catch Tim Lincecum now before he becomes another rich old man lecturing the unemployed on his “work ethic.” Meanwhile, Matt Cain’s new curls are all the rage among the doodles and poodles in Dolores Park; and Jonathan Sanchez now pitches almost as cool as I dress for Valencia Street. What do we need to know about rookie Madison Bumgarner? You can trust him for six, maybe seven, innings. Then you better bring in somebody who understands San Pancho’s twisted soul. Like Brian Wilson? Don’t bring him in prematurely. He riles up the old people.
5. Fielder’s Choice
Both teams are among the league leaders in fielding the ball, though both harbor suspects and rumored injuries. As in the Atlanta series, botched chances in the field can play a huge and unexpected role in the outcome.
6. Hitters — Them
They aren’t the Monsters of the Midway; they won’t trample our Timmy like the herd of stoned anteaters they resemble, but they do have a number of smart, patient hitters who know how to produce runs. Are they scary? Yes. Can Giant pitchers shut them down? Control, yes; shut down, unlikely, unless the balls are coated in chloroform.
7. Hitters — Who, Us?
A pity, not a real Terrorist among our gang. Maybe Buster Posey, although the others have taught him how to ground into double plays just like them. We probably won’t see much of the Giants’ preferred home-run derby offense; playoffs are all about creativity, as in “create runs or die.” They may not look like it all the time, but these Giants share two tendencies with all great artists and baseball teams: They are both plucky and lucky — a tough combination to beat.
8. Substances to Abuse Before, During and After the Game
I go for Louisiana hot links, chili cheese dogs, garlic fries and a PBR if the game is close; Hennessy if it’s a blowout; a pitcher of margaritas if I want to make it with a chick. Unless she’s into weed. Maybe you shouldn’t try this at home alone for the first time, but the thing about baseball is that you can even get high just watching it.
9. Watching a Game
The best place for watching a baseball game is in your head while listening to the radio. There you see not just pitches, hits and sweaty guys spaced out on green grass, but also a bigger picture, a wider field — you can see the game through multiple lenses of archetypal dreams, personal nostalgia and communal mythology; baseball as it was meant to be seen. OK, but if this is about celebrating SF, why isn’t there a public space where people can watch the game together? It happened for the World Cup, but then the Giants weren’t selling tickets for those games.
Mission Local will post a Mission-centric synopsis of each game at dawn the next day unless the sports department wins a reprieve postponing the deadline until a civilized noon or 1 p.m.