This one hurts.
But, hopefully, it will help.
Does that make sense? Didn’t think so. But who comes to the Jock Blog for sense?
By all that I mean — Friday was supposed to be the Giants home opener. It won’t be played. And we won’t know when baseball will be played.
But if we all take a flight of fancy, maybe it will help. Maybe if we close our eyes and cue up some harp music, we can drift into a dream-like state, where we all go there in our minds . . .
(Cue harp music. . . )
The day starts as it has for each of the last 15 Opening Days for Paulie Mac and me: with a live broadcast from the Public House. What a cherished tradition. It used to be, we started at 5 am. That’s Adam Copeland’s turf now. But even when we started at 5 am, we’d arrive in the predawn darkness and there you’d all be — KNBR’s finest, the listeners, unable to wait for first pitch. You all wanted your baseball fix to start with us, and we couldn’t be happier to open the doors and let you in.
Of course, as is typical with the radio gig — the audience makes the show. There’s Big Steve from Vallejo, bringing us a Safeway cake with scripted frosting, christening the day. There’s Corinne from Fairfax, bringing her baked goods. There’s Teri from Redwood City, bringing us those unreal deviled eggs from the Dutch Goose in Menlo Park. There’s Janet from Paradise, who came last year even after losing her home in the fire, with cookies and a big hug.
Larry Baer comes by, and talks about the red, white and blue bunting at the park. He always likes to talk about the red, white and blue bunting at the park. Mario Alioto comes by, and I remind everyone he was a bat boy at Candlestick Park. At some point, we all demand that Copes, back in the studio, play Lindsey Nelson’s call of John Tamargo’s 1979 pinch-hit walk-off home run.
A cherished tradition, that show.
But also cherished — time to go meet my family for the game!
For every year of my two sons’ educational lives, we’ve pulled them from school for Opening Day. We try to make it a “surprise”, but I think the 6th grader might be on to it by now. Either way, here they come, down the Embarcadero. They took the ferry from southern Marin, and made the pilgrimage from the Ferry Building, flocks of black-and-orange fans on foot beside them.
I love it when they run from 100 yards out to hug me, one in a Pence jersey, one in a Posey jersey, as I meet them out by Red’s Java House.
In we go!
The feeling is like no other. Even though I’ve gazed on that green China Basin grass for 21 Opening Days now, the relief and rush of the first gaze is still so welcome. We are back.
But first! We have to get little Rory Murphy’s favorite — the Crazy Crab sandwich. Expensive taste, that kid. Long line, too.
Here you go, kid. Enjoy. But wait — let me have a bite before you finish it. Mmmm.
To the seats for the family, to the hot dog stand for Daddy to feed the rest. And equally as important — the mustard, ketchup and relish from the condiment stand. It’s always unwieldy — three dogs, and three drinks to the condiment stand. I can’t say I’ve never spilled. But a Dad’s gotta do what a Dad’s gotta do.
To the seats I go, balancing the food and drink, trying to minimize the ketchup spill on my shirt. There’s our usher Mary, who is north of 90 years old. No joke. When Mary graduated high school, the Seals were the only game in town. Now, she stands sentinel over her section for a franchise that has gifted The City with 60-plus years of black and orange.
I plop down on the familiar green seats and pass out the dogs. I exhale, and squint against a blue sky to make sure those World Series flags from 2010, 2012 and 2014 are still flying, because for a kid raised on the AstroTurf years of irrelevance at Candlestick, they are beyond a dream come true. They represent the stuff of wild fantasy. Best part is, they’re real.
Time for the introductions. Boy, will I miss Bruce Bochy on that chalk line. But, time moves on. The Giants don’t play at the Polo Grounds anymore. Willie McCovey isn’t at first base. We adjust to change, we welcome a new decade. We all cheer the hometown ballplayers as they trot out, one by one.
And here they come, in their home creams. Beautiful hues. Jeff Kent dismissed them as “french Vanilla.” I don’t know about you, but French Vanilla ice cream sounds pretty good today. In fact, that’s a reminder — in the 5th inning, time to go hit the Ghirardelli stand down the right field line. The kids love it, the warm chocolate syrup surely a taste that will remind them of childhood forever.
Neither I nor any of the sellout crowd thinks or knows if the 2020 Giants will be any good. That doesn’t matter today, as we stand to honor our country and remove our caps for the national anthem.
“O say can you see/by the dawn’s early light . . . “
I can see a lot by the early afternoon light, that perfect San Francisco light: Giants fans, Giants players, flags snapping in the breeze, people together, people happy, people watching baseball on an April day . . .
(fade out harp music)
Oh, wait. Where was I?
Turns out that reverie is not going to happen.
I’m at home, at a laptop. No ballgame on Friday. No ballgame on Saturday, either.
Time to keep the faith.
We’ll be back at the ballpark one day.
And when we get there? I don’t care if I never get back.