Tonight’s game – the game in the city. Yes, it sounds obnoxious, but tonight is not just about this game and these cities. It’s about a long time ago, in a mystical place called Gotham, where to get from one island to another was a struggle, and travel clothing a lot less comfortable. It’s about a time when superheroes began to be needed and about a time when they are still needed.
This game is about the country’s move, from East to Midwest, to West. For better or worse, baseball is the second half of this country’s history. But this game is not just about history, of the country or of itself. It’s not just about statistics past. It’s about now – the competition between two great cities in one great state. It’s about the grievance of water, pilfered and filtered, from north to south, moving the basis of life to the thirsty masses to where they chose to move. This game is about northern resentment.
But this game is also about family – a family history of work and it’s relation to these cities in California. It’s about my grandpa filming the Dodgers’ Spring Training and my mom’s mid-century baseball collection. It’s about a pitcher from my husband’s family. It’s about the season I spent at Candlestick, the first time women were allowed to work security, but without walkie talkies.
This game is about my mom’s love of the sport, her rabid Giants’ fandom, her bright spot in a now rather shut-in life. It’s about my first memory of playing in the backyard with the game on the a.m. radio in the background. It’s the sound of Hodges, Greenwald, Kruk and Kuip, and Miller’s literary references. It’s the Willie McCovey tribute game I couldn’t attend. It’s about wishing I could help my mom to the top of the stadium to watch this game, just like we did for Game Five in the 2014 Series, when MadBum shut ‘em down.
This game is about the paucity of life and never knowing when things will end. It’s about being here with my friend – a San Diego to San Francisco transplant who came to her love of the Giants later on in grad school. It’s about not knowing how many games we’ll be able to attend together in the future. This game – all of baseball – is the ephemerality of time. We never know how long we have, but it’s gone in an instant. The stadium is a place where time disappears; the fans live in the moment as a group trying to channel a collective will. As Klopfer says in his wonderful essay about the poetry of the game – “of course we knew.” We knew this game would be. Baseball is sometimes “predictable poetry,” but the climax of this season in particular, follows the best foreplay ever. The back and forth, the ups and downs, the chase. Like a rambling Dostoevsky novel, we don’t know what will happen, but the beauty lies in enduring the process, the relishing of every day details and rituals. This game is the apex of a year-plus of endurance for many, many of us. This game imitates life, and that’s what makes baseball speak to our souls. Play ball!