You don't realize how weird this whole Internet contraption is until it's pointed out to you. Ten years ago, a lot of us watched baseball games alone. Maybe you had a family member into the Giants, or a roommate who'd idly drift in and out of the room when the games were on. But I know I watched a lot of games by myself.
Now, though, this Internet fad has made it impossible to experience a hobby or a passion alone if you don't want to. It doesn't matter if you're into photography, bulldogs, or medieval swords -- there's a community for you. Our community has to do with the baseball. Everyone here starts with a love of baseball. That's how it starts. And it's easy to assume that's where it ends, too. This is a site about the Giants; you come here to chat about the Giants, and then you leave when you're through chatting about the Giants.
Except that's not where it ends. When chatting about the Giants, you start riffing with someone about books or music. You start telling anecdotes that are tangentially related to the Giants, and then you start telling anecdotes that have nothing to do with sports at all. You don't realize how weird it is to make friends you've never seen -- how different this was compared to the rest of human history -- it just happens. But you make those friends. The use of the term "community" isn't just some appropriated pre-Internet word that half fits. It's a real community, with real friends.
On Tuesday morning, we lost a friend. There were over 23,000 times when Alex_Lewis thought to type something that was worth sharing on this site. And he was almost always right. Dude was funny. He was bright. He shared that gift that so many of you have, which is the ability to spin your love for the Giants into a conversation that belies your love for life. Over the last few days, Alex made all-caps pleas for Sergio Romo, proclamations of love for Melky Cabrera, and a bunch of comments related to The Wire. That's about right. Two parts Giants, one part whatever else is on your mind. It's how you got to know the friends around you, most of whom you'll never meet.
But it's 2012. Meeting people is overrated. Well, that's not true. Knowing someone in real life can never be overrated. Recognizing the timbre of someone's voice when they have something really important or funny or sad to tell you. The physical contact of a hug or handshake. That's still what we're built to appreciate. So maybe it's better to say that knowing people online is underrated. You can't stop a conversation in real life, leave, and come back with the perfect GIF of a cat attacking a toddler. You don't have access to every picture you can possibly think of, and you can't stop everything to say, "Here, listen to this right now."
It's different. There's a rhythm to this community -- mores, in-jokes, and shared moments. Alex had that rhythm. He made this site better. He was a friend to anyone who spent more than a few minutes in the comments section here. He was a good friend to a lot of us, even if we didn't stop to think about it.
Maybe my favorite thing about Alex was that he was part of a father-son team here. There are other fathers and sons who check in regularly, I'm sure, but Alex and gallo del cielo were a package deal. It was never weird that a father and son were involved in the same conversations around here. That says something. Can't put my finger on what. On how close they were, maybe. Or that how they blended in spoke to the weird Internet intimacy that we all shared without really thinking about it. A father and son can hang out in the same place, but all we're thinking about is how they're hilarious members of the same club. Not sure.
Their relationship also led to one of my favorite FanPosts ever, posted when gallo was recovering from surgery:
I take on the war face when I need it; the nurses, doctors, and other patients could see that I was not there to brook nonsense. A hallywaggle of surgery ensued, mostly beyond my perception, save for the final moments when the surgeon assessed Gallo's lucidity.
Q1: Who is the current president?
A1: William Howard Taft.
Q2: Who is his Vice President?
A2: Nate Schierholtz.
This was not well-received.
There's a lot of personal stuff in that FanPost. A ton of style. And a Giants reference just to remind us what brought us here in the first place.
Alex was 27. Old for a prospect. Far, far too young to die. Rest in peace, Alex. And stay strong, gallo.