In a rare departure from bird talk, the Mellowcat will now discuss Sports. In particular, the sport of baseball, which we once followed nearly as closely as we now follow bird migration patterns. Hearken back to the year 1985, and you will find the Mellowcat poring over the Bill James Baseball Abstract and the Sporting News. Times have changed. As I recall, the only birds you can see at the ballpark are the gulls (likely , Western Gulls) chasing hot dog wrappers blowing around in the eddy in left field at Candlestick, so the game now returns less to me for the investment of attention.
Baseball is an excellent radio game, as it allows you to go about your business without being glued to the TV set, but still be part of the action. There have been many excellent radio men providing the narrative over the years, and right now we have some of the best right here in the Bay Area. But even that is too much for me now. I can barely get through reading the game story in the Sporting Green in the Chronicle the next day without being overcome by emotion. Listen to the game? I would be a basket case. And forget about TV. It’s bad for you.
There are many ways to enjoy the game. Let’s take today, for instance. Our Giants have elbowed their way into the playoffs, and have switched into October Mode, which includes dominating pitching and clutch hitting. It’s always so weird to see that after the regular season. Today was game 2 of the series with the Nationals, and it started at around 2:30 pm on a Saturday. You know, I’m usually kind of busy at that hour. As I recall, I was resetting paving stones in the backyard at the time of the first pitch. And then I wanted to get my afternoon trail run in, so I couldn’t exactly watch the game too, right? But I did tune in to KNBR to listen to it on the way up to the Cross Country Course. Close game (1-0, other guys). One of the announcers is a former second baseman, and talked about how long it took for a ground ball to reach our man at that position, who was playing deep behind the bag. He said it’s an awkward angle to make throw from that position, and they don’t take fielding drills from there, or maybe they do now. All good information. Still, it remains a 1-0 game, and I headed out for my run.
Another thing about Baseball is that it is a summer game. In our area, the summer weather gets here in October, so that’s perfect timing. Not only can you spend a pleasant sunny day at the Yard, but you can hear the game from other car radios as they drive by, or from your neighbor’s backyard as they cheer on the local 9. And as it happened, I was climbing the last big hill on my run when I heard cheers from nearby homes. Something good must have happened. Indeed, when I returned to my vehicle the game was tied, 1-1, with the Giants coming up with a run with 2 out in the ninth. Just to make things interesting. This was around 5:30 pm. Can you imagine what my emotional state would have been if I had watched the entire game up to this point?
That puts us in extra innings, which is one of the things about baseball that differentiates it from all other sports. It never really has to end. As far as I know, all other big-time sports have some form of “enough is enough” rule that will wrap things up in a timely manner. Probably because baseball originated long before TV and radio programming, where stations might need to switch to some other important broadcast, such as “Heidi“.
I kept checking in on the game, but not via radio or television. No, that would be too much. Google Search will give you the current score. I had other things to do. By 7:30 pm, we were well into extra innings, and well into a nice red wine from Grocery Outlet. The moon was rising, the hot dogs were sizzling, and kitty was lounging somewhere in the dark periphery of the backyard. Checked Google again: still 1-1. We discussed matters of great importance over dinner, and the game continued. I pulled KP tonight, and while at the sink squaring things away, I heard cries of glee from the neighborhood. Another good thing has happened? Indeed.
Google was silent on this one, so I hopped on over to Twitter. Something about a “brandon” admiring his home run. We have several Brandons, but it hardly matters which one at this point. We, apparently, are ahead. If I had been listening to the radio I would have already known this, but it was a Brandon Belt home run, giving us a comfortable 2-1 lead.
I will refer you back to paragraph 5, or the collected works of Yogi Berra, where we discuss the “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” rule. For some reason, the Nationals are allowed to bat in the bottom of the inning. Fine. Go ahead.
This is just the sort of thing that happens regularly in baseball, where your team overcomes insurmountable odds, and the other team does something that causes sports writers to use phrases such as “ripped the hearts out of the Giant fans”. Fortunately, the capricious baseball gods left us alone this time and we wrapped things up with a tidy 2-1 win, after 6 hours and 18 innings. And I didn’t need Google or Twitter to tell me that. Our neighbors started firing off M-80’s and/or IEDs in celebration.
There are people out there who watched the entire game. They are the Giants.