Thursday, October 28, 2010

Orange and Black Glue

I don't know these people. Oh, I spent 4 hours with them last night at AT&T Park and we really hit it off, in the way that thousands upon thousands of people are hitting it off in the Bay Area right now.

Tell me you don't feel it. Even if you're one of those cranky "I hate the bandwagon-jumper" types, you have to admit there's something going on.

I have to admit: it's caught me a bit by surprise. I imagine it's caught everyone a bit by surprise, which is both the cause and effect of all this giddiness. The Giants aren't supposed to be here, yet they're three wins away from a World Series championship.

Sure, it's San Francisco. Any excuse for a party or a little self-conscious madness. I was blown away by the sheer number of people who jammed the area around AT&T Park hours before Game 1 started. They mobbed the Giants Dugout stores to grab any merchandise (at the usual obscene prices) bearing evidence of the Giants' World Series status.

And while they waited in crazy-long lines to buy the souvenirs, they chatted. Old folks, youngsters, well-off, not-so-well-off. Men, women, kids. The whole darned United Nations of us, united in baseball. My foray into merchandise-land revealed that few of these people actually had tickets to the games; they just wanted to be part of the whole happy mess.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom talked about this the other day. Sure, you can discount anything Newsom says these days because he's in the middle of a statewide campaign, but he's a native San Franciscan, a former college baseball player, a serious fan, and a guy with
a pretty good ear on the street. Essentially, Newsom says a winning team can make a whole
community feel better about itself. Even if you can't tell Javier Lopez from Santiago Casilla or don't know that Nate Schierholtz went to San Ramon Valley High, the Giants story is putting a spring in your step. Heck, you're even saying "hello" to strangers on the street.

It's a very strong kind of social glue. Part of what makes it so intoxicating is that we all know, deep down inside, that it can't last. For now, we're on a collective high, pinching ourselves to see if we're dreaming, laughing giddily when the Giants improbably score 7 runs off big bad Cliff Lee.

We know this will all end at some point and we'll go back to worrying about the kids or the mortgage or the car repairs or the job or the job search or...well, you know. That's the real world. For now, we're all bound together in this unreal place by orange and black glue.

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