My Baseball Loyalties:
I love the Dodgers, I love the Angels. I love Boston, I love the Oakland As, and I love watching a well-played game no matter who plays it, even the Yankees… with the one exception being the Giants. Oh, I have loved some of their players but not the franchise. Who could not love Willie Mays? Who could not despise a management that soaked the outfield before every game and employed a hothead pitcher like Juan Marichal, who threw at batter’s heads and even took a swipe at Mays with his bat when Mays tried to pull him off ofJohn Roseboro, after hitting him in the head with a bat during a notorious game in 1965 against Los Angeles? Ok, Giants fans must have thought it was great; I don’t see . They don’t even remember the near assault on Mays, completely blocked it from their memories.
I grew up in LA; I was 7 years old when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and, thanks to O’Malley, the Giants moved to SF. (Most Giants fans don’t know that, so distracted are they by their hatred of all things SoCal that they are unaware of the debt they owe him.) I was first and foremost a Dodgers fan. We listened to Vin Scully and Jerry Dogget on the radio on the weekends, and on tv if they were playing the Giants.
O’Malley was no hero. He was a real bastard about a lot of things, including not broadcasting home games, thinking people wouldn’t come to the game at all if they could watch it on tv. At the age of 11 I discovered Jim Murray and read him religiously. My parents used to go to games at the Coliseum and sit in the box seats behind home plate. Mom would come home and tell us all the movie stars they saw at the game that night. Later, they started going to Angels games when that team became a Major League franchise, but they never took us to a game until we were well into our teenage years, but I still read Murray’s column in the sports page every morning to check on the game the night before.
In 1979 we lived in Riverside, and my husband and I joined with two other couples and bought two Angels season ticket seats and held them for three years. I dunno, it seemed like something to do and mr pie was really enthusiastic about it…. and I fell in love with baseball all over again. This was when Rod Carew, Brian Downing, Frank Tanana, Bobby Grich, Carney Lanceford, Don Baylor and a host of other great players were on the team. We had a party to divvy up the tickets before the season, and Boston and Oakland were our favorites. We got to see Yaz and other brilliant players from those teams and others. Then the baseball strike came, and we stopped buying season tickets.
In 1992 we moved to Castro Valley, a bedroom community just south of Oakland, and the Athletics became our team. Tony LaRussa was the manager and Haas was the beloved owner. For 9 years we rode BART to the games and shivered in the Oakland Coliseum and cheered with the other twenty fans who showed up to watch this great team play. After Haas died the team was sold and LaRussa went to St Louis. The team played well, finished near or at the top of the AL West for several years, and we never understood why more people didn’t come out to see the Athletics play. The other thing we never understood was why people came to an A’s game wearing a Giants or Raiders shirt. Were they just clueless or deliberately rude? One year the Giants canceled the Bridge Series and neglected to mention it to the Athletics management; they found out about it in the newspaper.
We made the most of our proximity to San Francisco in those 9 years, and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly but discovered that the East Bay was surprisingly conservative and the whole area was startlingly provincial in some ways, a bit naive about just how important they were in the scheme of things. The SF Chronicle referred to San Francisco as the Paris of the West, and the south half of the state might as well not even exist there was so little news about happenings there. The Chron was fun to read, but not a great paper. We came to appreciate just how great a newspaper the Riverside Press Enterprise had been.
In September 2001 we moved back to Southern California because we had four elderly parents with health issues that were too hard to deal with from 400 miles away. And we were a bit homesick for a place where people smiled more often and the sun came out. We went to a lot of Angels games in 2002, delighted to be able to see a game without a parka, and Dad called us while we were on vacation that fall to tell us the Angels had squeaked into the Wild Card slot. When they had battled through all of the playoffs, beating the Yankees and the Twins, they faced the Giants and we realized exactly what a rude crowd sounded like. Yes, New York fans are loud and obnoxious. It was a roaring wall of sound in Yankee stadium, but polite when compared to the Giants fans who were just ugly and rude; the Giants were so arrogant, so disrespectful of not just the Angels but of the game itself, that it was even more sweet when they threw it away. By all rights, the Giants should have won in game 6 when they had the Angels down 5-0, but lost it 6-5. Game 7 was in Anaheim, and the Angels won, 4-1. Darrin Erstad hit a key homerun in game 6 and caught the final out in game 7, and the following season Giants fans turned up at the first Oakland/Angels game just to boo him. What class.
The All Star Game:
Tonight is the All Star Game, a contrived extravaganza that marks the mid-point of the season. It’s in San Francisco so Fox has even more opportunities for stupidity, including some moron with a dog on a boat in McCovey Cove. I hate Fox Sports, and I hate the announcers on Fox assigned to baseball games. Half the time they sound like they are unfamiliar with one or both teams, don’t bother to find out how to pronounce players’ names, and sometimes seem unfamiliar with the game of baseball. The All Star rules insist that every team must be represented, no matter how mediocre their best player, but in most cases there is at least one shining star on a losing team, such as Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies. Then there’s Dan Haren. Haren is the only representative from the Oakland A’s, a great team but nearly invisible according to the All Star teams of the past three years. There are other players who were snubbed by this ridiculous system.
The players are voted onto the team and it’s a popularity contest from the get-go, which is perfectly fine… except that that other rule about every team must be represented means that while Jeter is a wonderful choice, there is no place left over for Orlando Cabrera. Jeter is one of the greats; I love to watch him play and I wouldn’t set him aside in favor of OC just because of the latter’s current stats, but if not for that “fairness” rule there would have been room for both on the team.
Feh. I think this is the first All Star game I’ve bothered to watch in 20 years.
Giants Fans, What a Classy Bunch:
About that popularity contest; two days before the deadline it was thought that Barry Bonds had no chance of coming up with more than 119,00 votes so quickly, but by the end of voting he had gained more than twice that number. People outside the bay area smelled a rat, and for a good reason: instructions appeared on Giantsboard.com that gave instructions and a program that allowed Bonds fans to skate around the online voting program and vote hundreds of times, and they bragged about doing so. Larry Brown has the program here:
and the article where he broke the story is here:
Charming. Bonds, who is under a cloud because of possible cheating (yes, yes, I know, innocent until found guilty) has fans who are proud that they cheated to put him on this team. He would have been on the team anyway, idiots. This stunt caused Bonds to pass Alfonso Soriano in votes but Soriano made the team anyway, as a reserve player.
The major reason I say that Giants fans lack class is the way they behaved when the players were introduced tonight: they sat on their hands when the players from St Louis were introduced, and they booed every player from SoCal, even the Padres, except for Vladimir Guerrero who it sounded like got a bigger hand than Bonds. What’s not to love about Vlady, though.
John Lackey and Frankie Rodriguez exhibited grace (and were amusing) as they tipped their hats to the louts, er, crowd, as if they were being cheered.
Well, I’m glad that’s over with until next year.