I wonder what it would be like to be a beat writer or a sports journalist in general. Sitting (okay, I stood and jumped a lot too) tonight and watching Game 5 of the World Series, I couldn’t help but imagine myself having prime seats or even a booth, comped by some notable periodical, paying me as much for watching the game as I really make in a whole month at my real job. I also wondered what I would write about if I were so fortunate.
I doubt anyone wants to hear about how I think I could sing the national anthem better than Charlie Pride. No one cares how cute I think 2010 Willie Mac Award winner Andres Torres is (I do have one friend who might care that he has ADHD). Unless they’re a die-hard Gigantes fan, they don’t care how much everyone in Orange & Black wishes former Willie Mac winner Bengie Molina could still have been part of the winning dugout (he still gets a ring, I understand), or how heart-broken I was when I found out all I would see of munchy Barry Zito was a few dugout shots. Puh-lease… I promise only to take one small bite!
I think poignant to the sport, two things stood out to me more than anything else. The first, was that the Phillies were a better team than the Rangers. This has nothing to do with possession of talent. It has to do with how much heart was given. The Phillies believed until the end of the last game that they were the better team and they fought with everything they had to prove it. They probably went home grumbling about the calls that didn’t go their way, or who up above decided a ball had to bounce where it did. I tip my Giants hat to them. I thought on any other given week, they were the best team. They just got a rotten draw on the week they had to play San Francisco. Texas has a good baseball team in the Rangers, but it seemed like once Cliff Lee had lost a game, they suddenly believed San Francisco had a better one. I don’t disagree with them, but I think that if you want a chance to win, you can’t ever let go of the belief you deserve to win. You need to fight, scratch, and claw like the Phillies did.
The second thing that held me captivated in wonderment, was who on this self-proclaimed band of misfits we should call the MVP. Edgar Renteria, with two clutch home runs including the Series winner, stole that honor and probably rightfully so, but there is a part of me (admittedly never having slid chin-first into third, or turned a rocket into a snow cone at second base with a runner on base) that wants to give the title to something and someone less tangible. I’m not a big baseball fan, but I do love the Giants enough to have watched quite a bit of their dramatic stretch to the finish. Baseball, like any other sport that pays millions, is a collection of “I”s in a world where “We” wins. I watched in awed amazement as Bruce Bochy made decision after decision, building confidence in struggling players, showing faith in his talented youth, and even benching my heart-throb favorite for the playoffs. The team trusted his choices, never believed that he didn’t believe in them and played their hearts out for him. Today, November 1st, 2010, Bruce Bochy smiled on camera. I don’t think I ever saw that before. It’s on his incredible juggling of testosterone, and on clutch decision after clutch decision that never seemed to be the wrong one, where I want to hang my MVP Award.
I know what all the guys would be saying, that the manager isn’t a player, but they can go write their own post. Bruce was a player, and for most of his baseball life, he was a Padre. My only memories of him were as the manager of that joke team down south where Barry Bonds seemed to hit most of his home runs. It was probably hard for him at first even to be a Giant. It wasn’t lost on me as the Giants played through this season, that the one team they just could not beat was the one where Bochy’s baseball heart had been born and raised. But in the end, he convinced this team they could beat the Padres. And beat the Padres they did, in the epic, nail-biting, torturous fashion that became their stamp of recognition on their way to San Francisco’s first and only World Championship. Every player interview I heard over the last month said the same thing. The other guys this, the other guys that. I’ve been around enough guys playing sports to know someone really wise got that in their heads somehow. I have nowhere to look, but to that man who finally smiled.
I know no one is ever going to pay me to go to a World Series Game or write about it afterward. But I can thank Bruce Bochy for playing what I think was the biggest role in bringing a World Series to San Francisco, and I can thank you for reading my tribute.
I have one more editorial to add. In the middle of the 7th inning, I think this is in every single baseball game, not just the ones on TV, we sing God Bless America. I believe this started in the first post-season games following September 11th, 2001, a date all on this Earth should remember. The song is introduced to honor the men and women in service to “our country”. I read that as “my country” and when I hear it during a “World Series” I find myself confused. I have dearly loved friends overseas, one (which is one too many) lost life extremely close to home and I have every desire to pour out my love and support to those abroad, but America has never been about “God’s” blessings. She has always been about her children holding hands through their tears, no matter where they were born, what language they spoke, what religion they were taught, or what inspired them to fight. I never once in my (admittedly short) life heard one child in tears crying for God’s blessing for America. Babas, yes. Mankets, yes. Green stuff, NO! With nothing further, I will part with this. I give my love and support to anyone and everyone who gives their brave heart in service to their country. What does that have to do with baseball?
Hehe… see why I am not a sports journalist? 🙂
© 2010 Anne Schilde