Bondsless Baseball Back to Basics by the Bay

The Giants, post-Bonds: it’s like Candlestick again, they way it should be. People yelling “sit down, asshole!” to the guy standing in the way. Fans screaming on their feet when there’s two strikes on the opposing team. Total strangers arguing about the new guys in the infield. Old-timers in the stands yelling, “Bring back Candy Maldonado!” That kinda stuff.

Basically, people in San Francisco are watching baseball again.

They’re not buried in their laptops on the stadium’s free wi-fi, eating their bunless Atkins burgers and closing business deals on their phone. They’re not standing up to cheer every ninth batter and leaving if he doesn’t hit it out of the park. They’re not waiting in line at the Build-a-Bear store or to slide down the Coca-Cola slide. All those people are gone; the ones remaining are watching, attentively, one of the greatest sports in the world being played.

Even tonight, in just the second home game for the Giants, you could tell things are going back to basics at the once–paparazzi-prone ballpark. Sure, the smoking area has been banished even further away, and there’s now a dumbass “Fan Loft” that costs anywhere from $3,500 to $6,000 per game to rent, but for the most part a lot of the froo-froo element seems like it’s on its way out and passionate fans are on their way back in.

Take, for example, the Lincecum Girls at the game tonight: four of ‘em in sports bras and “T-I-M-!” drawn on their bellies in Section 127, going nuts every time Lincecum walked out to the mound or up to the plate. In the 7th inning stretch, they got up to go to the bathroom and found the womens’ line too long, so they strolled past the mens’ line, into the mens’ bathroom and crammed into a stall, taking turns peeing and leading the bewildered guys in a “Let’s Go Giants” chant.

Now that the home run donkey show is over and the unfortunate smugness of Bonds is out of the picture, more stuff like that can happen in San Francisco—it’s what we used to do best before we accepted an ill-fitting role of propriety. The old man I saw in the stands tonight, pulling from a brown-bag flask and scoring the game, is a perfect harbinger of the upcoming season: it’ll be dirtier and grittier, and people who don’t like baseball won’t have any reason to go to the ballpark.

I can’t say the Giants look too good this year, but I’m sure going to enjoy watching them a hell of a lot more these days. Bring on the Lincecum Girls. Bring on the brown bags and the yelling in the stands. Bring on the Dodgers fans. And hell, bring on the twin homers from Bengie Molina, who slammed a game-winning walk-off shot to right tonight and brought the 11th-inning faithful to a standing frenzy.

Bring on the baseball!

Sonoma County Library