This is not a story about a baseball game. It’s not a story about the San Francisco Giants losing to the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2.
It’s a story about life. Perhaps not even a story. Maybe just a screenshot.
But you’re a Giants fan, which means you’ve long accepted a certain reality of your existence: baseball is a part of life. Giants baseball, specifically, is a part of your life, specifically.
This is a story about that.
I went to the game Friday night. I didn’t get a credential or sit in the press box. I didn’t bring my laptop. I didn’t tweet about the game, and the notes app on my phone contains exactly 10 words that I jotted down for this article. Two of those words are “Giants notes.”
I went as a fan. Bundled up for the wet evening air and sat on a hard plastic seat in a sea of Giants fans. Sat in my favorite place in baseball stadiums: high in the air, behind home plate. Where you can see the defensive positioning, spot the speed and movement of the pitches, and have a decent idea whether a fly ball is an infield pop up or a towering home run.
I grew up loving sports. I didn’t go to all that many games as a kid, seeing as how it’s a bit of an event to get from the Mendocino Coast to a professional sports venue. But I went to as many as I could.
This was the first sporting event I went to as a fan — no laptop, no credential, no work — in ... I don’t know. Five years? Six?
I placed my butt in a hard seat. I drank a beer. Two, even. I tried to time my bathroom breaks so I wouldn’t miss any action, but when I failed Kruk and Kuip serenaded me as I stood face to face with the row of porcelain urinals.
It was lovely.
Like I said, this isn’t a story about baseball. It’s a story about life.
I went to the game with my brother and my sister-in-law. It was on a whim. I’m staying with them in San Francisco, and when I turned on the Thursday night game so I could write my recap, my brother said, “sorry, we could have just gone to the game,” and 15 minutes later we had tickets to Friday night’s game.
I didn’t wear any Giants gear. I used to wonder who goes to a baseball game and doesn’t wear gear. But I didn’t know when I prepped for a trip up north that I’d go a game, so I didn’t pack any gear. Suddenly a very little thing that used to confuse me made perfect sense.
We watched Alex Cobb pitch three perfect innings. I chuckled when Cardinals backup catcher Andrew Knizner came up to bat and the scoreboard showed Yadier Molina instead. We cackled like kids laughing at a poop joke when Brandon Crawford hit a pop up 250 feet in the air and Harrison Bader outran it by 15 feet. We groaned when Bader hit a two-run home run. We cheered when Darin Ruf tied the game with a two-run single. We smiled at LaMonte Wade Jr. and Mike Yastrzemski’s porn ‘staches.
And then we left in the seventh inning.
I used to always wonder about those people. I’ll admit it: I used to judge them. Who buys a ticket, treks to the stadium, and then leaves in the middle of a tied game?
I did. We did.
It was nine o’clock. It was cold.
And my sister-in-law is eight months pregnant.
I caught a play through the window as we walked by 21st Amendment Brewery. I checked the score at the BART station, and it was still tied. Somewhere along the train ride home Dylan Carlson hit the go-ahead single, Giovanny Gallegos slammed the door shut, and the Giants lost. It wasn’t until we were walking home, after the gulls had started to collect the abandoned garlic fries, that I remembered to actually check my phone and see what had happened.
The Giants lost, I announced. None of us cared much. It’s part of baseball. It’s part of life.
It’s been a funny year for me. In the last month my best friend of 30 years got married, my other best friend of 30 years bought a house with his partner, and my third best friend of 30 years went on her honeymoon, while I navigated being single for the first time in about nine years.
Life goes on. Especially the beautiful parts.
At the risk of sounding like a middle schooler who just got into poetry, I’ve been more observant lately, and finding more joy in what I observe. The person in front of me at the game had orange nails, a Warriors beanie, a Giants windbreaker, a radio, and a scorebook. Keeping score. What a thing.
That made me smile.
The concessions stands sold non-alcoholic beer. Bad non-alcoholic beer, but non-alcoholic beer nonetheless, perfect for a pregnant person.
That made me smile.
Sean Hjelle made his Major League debut, and I knew that somewhere in the stadium his family sat watching, more proud of him than he will ever know.
That made me smile.
We walked slowly from the BART station to the ballpark. Pregnancy and all, forcing us to savor the stunning view. Forcing us to smell the proverbial roses.
On the walk my brother and sister-in-law decided that when they need to find time to nap they’ll have Uncle Brady take their kiddo to the ballpark and teach her about baseball.
I can’t wait.