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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

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“It’s Electric!/You can’t see it – it’s electric!/You gotta feel it – it’s electric!/Ooh, it’s shakin’ – it’s electric!” Electric Slide – Neville Livingston

It had been a slow day of driving to San Francisco. 

I was driving home. The Giants were in the World Series. The Giants were one game away from wining their first World Series ever as the San Francisco Giants, and I wanted desperately to be home when it happened. But I wasn’t sure that I’d make it. 

Half was my fault—I stopped to take pictures of whatever fitted my current flight of madness (sorry about that middle finger, Los Angeles … um, no, I’m not!)—and the other half the fault of Southern California drivers.

Starting about 1 p.m., I kept nervously checking my watch, looking at how many miles were left: 2 p.m., 300 miles. “I’m never going to make it,” I kept thinking to myself. Finally, breaking free of the mess in Ventura, I put the pedal to the metal and decided to make up for lost time until … “Holy cow, look at that beach front, have to get a picture of that.”

“Benjamin, we are never going to get there in time if you keep pulling over,” I chastised myself. Ever had a “vocal” argument with yourself?

“Yes, we will! Once we hit the central valley, it’s clear sailing and no cops,” I responded. “So please get off my case. We’ll get there.”

“Not if you keep stopping to take a freaking picture every ten minutes. It’s a simple calculus really—you won’t make it.”

I screamed a “Shut Up!” to the voices in my head, gripped the steering wheel and eased back on to the Pacific Coast Highway. Three o’clock—200 miles.

I lived in San Francisco the last time the Giants were even there (in 2002) and my buddy and I would walk down to our favorite bar each night and watch every single inning of those games.

San Francisco is an electric town but the feeling in the air back in 2002—with Barry Bonds still manning the outfield, swinging lumber and dropping moon blasts into the bay—was beyond anything I experienced at the time. Yes, all you Yankees fans are probably yawning right about now having all your umpteen million World Series trophies, but I’m an Orioles fan and a Giants fan—World Series trophies are few and far between.

Four o’clock and traffic was moving slowly again, 150 miles to go.

“See, I told you we wouldn’t make it,” my inner nag said.

“Hmm, maybe …,” I thought to myself as I turned off the iPod and flipped the car stereo over to the AM dial—scan–scan–scan. There it was: the familiar voice of the San Francisco Giants, Jon Miller, came on the air.

Oh, this was going to be a doozy. Tim Lincecum was on the mound for the Giants, Cliff Lee would take the hill during the top of the next inning for the Texas Rangers. Both pitchers were aces and both were pitching unbelievably well.

And so it went, with Lincecum mowing down Rangers hitters and Lee doing the same to the Giants until the seventh inning when Edgar Renteria came up to bat. The Giants had started figuring out how to get to Lee by the time the seventh rolled around and with two men aboard, Lee got behind Renteria two balls and no strikes. Going back to his knock-out pitch, Lee delivered a devastating cut fastball that somehow, miraculously, Renteria got wood on. And then the ball just kept going, going, gone! Home run! Giants were up 3-0.

Jammed in Silicon Valley, traffic stretched as far as the eye could see at a complete standstill, through Belmont and through South San Francisco.

“Please, let me be in the city when it happens,” I pleaded to the universe.

Around Cesar Chavez, as Jon Miller told me, the Giants closer, Brian Wilson, was throwing his warm-up pitches. “I’m almost there,” I thought.

My friend and I were going back and forth. He was watching the game at his house in the city.

“Did that look as devastating as it sounded?” I asked him over the phone.

“Oh my God, you so should have seen that!” he replied.

Off the highway, into the city, two outs were down, and the Giants were three strikes away. Red light on Van Ness … strike three in Arlington … the city exploded!

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