AT&T Park becomes the field of dreams, Apple makes a new dream gadget, same-sex marriage gets a break, and Gavin makes for Sacto. Welcome to San Francisco's banner year.
(photo by Joseph Schell)
The World Series comes to San Francisco at strange and portentous moments. The last time it was here the Bay Bridge collapsed and the Marina burned. This time, we claimed the Commissioner’s Trophy the night before an election that, even more than usual, highlighted how we are a city apart.
I thought about these things as I walked toward Market Street for the Giants’ ticker-tape parade. On my iPhone, I was streaming Obama’s post-midterm concession speech, in which he admitted that the Democrats had received a “shellacking.” Not here, I thought to myself. We’re known for being radicals, but in this election we were suddenly playing a different role. The rise of the radical right had somehow made San Francisco suddenly seem even-keeled—dare I say moderate. With every statewide office appearing to go Democrat, we were calmly staying the course with the president.
When I turned down New Montgomery Street and saw the swelling crowd, I unplugged my ear buds and waded into the throng. I stood next to a middle-aged delivery driver who had been stopped just a half-block from his destination and couldn’t have been happier about it. He helped four 7-year-olds climb aboard the hood of his truck and then motioned to boost an elderly Chinese woman up there as well. She said, “Yes, yes,” until the moment he tried to lift her up, and she realized what he was actually offering. Nearby, a few hundred people had commandeered a 30 Stockton and a 38 Geary—both were stuck near the intersection. With the drivers nowhere to be seen, the crowd had pulled each other up through the emergency escape hatch until the roofs of the two busses were as crammed with people as the street below. At the very front of the Geary bus, a group of five young women were getting a lot of attention for having spelled out P–O–S–E–Y on their bare adolescent bellies.
The crowd on Market Street was proof that San Francisco is full of serious fans. But even these diehards, I got the feeling, had the game in perspective. No one in the Bay Area, after all, talks of wanting to be buried in their black and orange or of breaking up with a girlfriend who decides to root for another team. This is still the West—where people come from someplace else. First- or second-generation fans can only be so fanatical.
All of which made teasing the title away from those Eastern and middle-American cities that live and die for their sports teams so much more satisfying. Even our players seemed to communicate that, although baseball is a lot of fun, it isn’t everything. After the winning game, closer Brian Wilson didn’t say anything all-American about going to Disneyland. What he did say was, “I feel like I want to chug Champagne right now and get a little weird.” Probably best not to know exactly what he meant by “a little weird,” but it’s a good bet that while these hinted-at activities may require an equipment manager, they didn’t have anything to do with the game of baseball.
Stealing the trophy away from Texas was satisfying on a couple of other levels as well. Both George Bushes had to sit and watch it slip away. Giving them the World Series and the midterms (Republicans swept the statewide offices in Texas) would have simply been too much to bear. At least for a while, we wiped the smug smiles off the faces of the wealthy and white Texans that surrounded the Bushes in Game 4 in the front rows of the ballpark at Arlington.
After glimpsing the Bush posse in all their HD splendor, it felt like a privilege to stand in the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the Giants fans on Market Street. There were all manner of Pacific Islanders, Asians, Latinos, African-Americans—you name it. And there were a good number of children whose features and skin color could only be called post-racial. Sharron Angle herself couldn’t have parsed out the ethnic background of some of these kids.
Standing in that crowd, I began to feel better not about where the country was but about where I was in it. If this is where I’m going to live in this new fractured and factionalized America—if this is going to be my “us” in the “us versus them” equation—well I’ve got to say, I like my team.
We all waited together for our heroes. Finally, a cheer went up when someone yelled that they had spotted Tim Lincecum on a duck boat down the block. But when the person on the float went into a windup to throw some candy to the crowd, we could tell that it wasn’t The Freak—just some woman from the Giants’ front office with not much of an arm.