bunt sign

Saturday, June 16, 2001

Our trip to the baseball game last night was eventful. The bus left Santa Rosa at five o'clock and stopped in both Rohnert Park and Petaluma for more passengers. Some of the regulars who had bought tickets were not at the stop in Petaluma when we got there, so Lana made some phone calls. We were delayed an extra five minutes or so until it was decided the no-shows were not going to make it.

The third stop was in Novato, where Eric was waiting. As we approached the off ramp, Lana was making announcements of future trips. When I realized the bus was in the wrong lane, I tried to get her attention. As we drove on past, she turned completely around in a circle, and then looked at me and said, "Was that it?"

We went on to the next exit and made the turnaround, another ten minutes down the drain. Eric had been sitting in the bus shelter reading and hadn't noticed us driving by, even though we were by then at least a half hour later than he'd been told to be there. Lana said, "It's a good thing you didn't see us pass you by, Eric, or you would have been worried."

I told her that Eric doesn't worry, and he said he would have thought, "Oh my, there they go." He would have simply expected us to come back for him (which was, in fact, what we did).

Anyone who thinks California is called the Golden State because of the gold rush of 1849 need only see the rolling hills of the Bay Area in mid June. Two months ago these hills were a lush green. One month ago they were a mottled medley of green and gold. And yesterday they were a blazing, burnished golden brown, the signature color that means I'm home.

looking beyond the scoreboard into the Bay

It was an incredible night in San Francisco, warm but without the oppressive heat and humidity you might find in other cities. I always take a jacket, because the nights are often cool and windy, but I didn't need any more protection than a T-shirt this time.

After we got off the bus, we were walking with the throng across the Lefty O'Doul Bridge to get to Pacific Bell Park. A young woman was slowing down the foot traffic by handing something out. I like free stuff, so I was angling toward her, but Eric was nudging me in the opposite direction so we could bypass the crowd. I wondered why he didn't want the "mementos" she was giving away, but as it turned out she was actually handing out small packages of Mentos.

boats on the Bay

It was also the night of the South Beach Yacht Club Friday Night Beer Can Race. We always see a lot of boats in McCovey Cove, just beyond the right field arcade of the ballpark, but last night there were more of them than usual. Our seats were directly behind (and high above) home plate, so we could see absolutely everything everywhere.

Ronald McDonald threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game.

clown on the field!

His appearance was in honor of the Ronald McDonald House, a charitable organization dedicated to the care of children and their families. Inside the ballpark, you can buy food from Burger King and Carls Jr. outlets, but not McDonald's. In my current state of medical restrictions, I couldn't eat at any of those places, so I had the barbecued chicken sandwich from The Stinking Rose.

The game was between the Giants and their "rivals" from across the Bay, the Oakland A's. I use the term "rivals" with some reluctance, because the Giants' true rivals are the hated Dodgers of Los Angeles. The A's aren't even in the same league, and the games the two teams play against each other every year have created a kind of artificial rivalry based on proximity.

The real source of any antagonism is from the fans of each team. The A's fans who made it to last night's game made more noise than the supporters of visiting teams are usually expected to make in an unfriendly environment. We were forced at times to drown them out. In the old days, when the Giants played at cold, hostile Candlestick Park, fistfights would have peppered the stands. We're a little more laid back now that we have a beautiful new ballpark. Especially when we're winning.

And the fact that the Giants have a player who is currently rewriting record books in almost every game helps take the edge off as well. Barry Bonds hit two more home runs in last night's game. He's hit more homers faster than anyone in the history of major league baseball, which has been played for almost a century and a half. It's an awesome spectacle. Even though baseball is a game in which you can afford to pay selective attention, when it's Bonds' turn to hit, all eyes focus on him. Last night, he didn't disappoint us.

The older woman sitting next to me was chatting pleasantly about the game off and on all evening. Once she pointed to several birds swooping through the stands and wanted to know if they were bats. I assured her that they were swallows. Or swifts. But definitely swallows or swifts. Or maybe purple martins. Not bats, though.

Later as a huge seagull flew low over the crowd, Eric pointed and said, "Look! A giant albino bat!"

We saw a quick, tense, exciting game, and then we had the bus ride home to help us unwind. It didn't work for me, and I was up most of the night trying to tell myself it was time to sleep. It took until much too late, but at least today was a Saturday, when sleeping occupies the first three or four spots on my to-do list.

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