A Baseball Fan’s Superbowl Sunday II
It’s an annual dilemma. What do I do while the rest of the country watches football? The first decisions are easy, and in short order I’m up, out of bed, showered, shaved and ready to get dressed. Because I live in San Francisco and my t-shirt color of the day is preordained, the first significant challenge is at hand, which t-shirt will it be? After surveying my choices, which include a Texas Rangers navy and red 2011 Spring Training t-shirt (thanks, Nancy), a Washington Nationals red and black Steven Strasburg # 21, a Minnesota Twins blue with red Harmon Killebrew # 3 and a St. Louis Cardinals red Stan Musial # 6, I choose sweet Stan. This is appropriate since he passed away last week, and I want to honor his memory. I will always honor Stan Musial’s memory.
What better way to celebrate the nation’s football holiday than to meet one of my baseball cronies and talk about the game we love? I met Bobby at one of the local coffee shops in the Inner Sunset neighborhood, and over beverages, started to kick the season around. He likes the Toronto Blue Jays, and while there is a lot of talent on the team, I’m not fully convinced. It’s one thing to win the off season, which perhaps they have, but it’s quite another to win the whole shebang in the fall. If you have any doubts about that, just ask the 2011 Boston Red Sox or the 2012 Miami Marlins. He lauded the Canadian team’s newly acquiring talents which include shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitchers R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. Bobby believes it is the sum of those parts that will put the team in a commanding position. However, almost in the next breath, he seemed to backtrack by confessing that the American League West has some terrific clubs including the improved California Angels, the still strong Texas Rangers and last year’s surprising division champions, the Oakland Athletics.
We then started extolling the virtues of the defending World Champion Giants, who always seem to be lurking out there somewhere, staying in the hunt until they inevitably win it all with their combination of superb pitching, taut defense and just-enough hitting. I’m very hesitant to bet against them. It seems that the “Sultans of King” have developed a liking for parades and have the talent and the managerial know how to enjoy a few more. With General Manager Brian Sabean always bringing in the late-July talent to embellish an already superb existing assemblage and Manager Bruce Bochy orchestrating the pieces to sheer perfection, I said I was looking for the G-men to win it all in 2013. Bobby countered with the Washington Nationals, claiming they had strengthened themselves significantly during the off season and might win as many as one-hundred games. He’s got a point, and with a new bullpen closer in Rafael Soriano, another quality starter in Dan Haren, a new bat in Denard Span combining forces with Stephen Strasburg, AKA: “Miss Universe,” and last season’s American League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper now established as a star player, these guys are loaded.
After Bobby and I parted ways I went over to see my good friends Kelsey and Bre at Urban Bazaar, an awesome boutique that sells fair trade and and products by local artists. We toasted a personal occasion by enjoying the sweet taste of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. Hugs and smiles all around! My time spent with these two charming ladies was wonderful. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that in addition to being beautiful women, they are just as lovely on the inside, always reaching out to others, and open to new ways of thinking and living that help make our world a better place. In this photograph I’m flanked by Kelsey on the left and Bre on the right.
It’s a perfect day to go to the Marina Green and enjoy the beautiful clear sky, the bay with its awesome view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the gentle breeze and the sea of red and gold t-shirts and jackets. There are people walking their dogs, flying kites and having a good time. I’m happy to be among them. After a marvelous stretch of time I headed over to Chestnut Street, a busy retail, bar and restaurant district, to grab some lunch.
After a quick bite the game started. I could tell because there were screams as I walked along Chessie. It didn’t sound too good for the 49′ers, however, because after awhile I didn’t hear a whole lot of cheering coming from the bars. Realizing that it was already past 3:30 pm PST, I walked over to the Marina Safeway to pick up a few groceries, including a bag of chips because I planned to snack while watching my evening’s big event, Puppy Bowl IX, a bit later. Before I set the scene I have to mention the Marina Safeway is where the melting pot melts, a 24/7/365 non-stop beehive of activity that will satisfy anyone’s yen for a poor man’s version of Times Square. I walk in and am stunned by total silence. I could hear a pin drop. Please indulge me for a moment while I “borrow” a line from one of my previous blog posts (100 bonus points if you can guess which one) and tell you that when I went to find the deli line I discovered that I was the line. That never happens at the Marina Safeway.
As I walked through the store I found a kindred baseball spirit. I can tell because his jacket and cap indicate he is a fan of the Texas Rangers. We sized each other up and quickly realized we were fans of our great old game. I offered a tentative “how do you think your Rangers are going to do this season” and that was all it took to launch my second baseball conversation of the day. While claiming that Angels are improved and the Athletics look like they’re for real, he liked his team’s chances. He thinks the offense is still a potent one, even with the loss of sometime slugger Josh Hamilton. He said he expects promising rookie Jurickson Profar to hit, although he didn’t think the youngster’s production would take up all the slack caused by Hamilton’s defection to Anaheim. He expects pitcher Yu Darvish to step up this season and become a full-blown ace, which would certainly lend credence to his contention that the Japanese import’s generally positive 2012 rookie season (16-9, 3.90 ERA) was no fluke. He’d like to see the defense improve, and we both thought that still unsigned free agent center fielder Michael Bourne would be a good fit. He won’t hit a whole lot, but his defense is spectacular. We concluded our conversation with an “enjoy the season” and parted ways.
My baseball immersion (notice I didn’t say my grocery shopping) continued because I set my Ipod to play the latest Mets Musings podcast. It’s always good to hear Gary and Barry take one of their leisurely inventories of the continuing melodrama that is periodically called the New York Mess. Because I was listening intently I was only partially aware that I was in a grocery store when I walked through what was once the chip aisle. This part of the store wasn’t deserted, it was attacked! I don’t think Atilla the Hun could have done a better job than our fair citizens did in cleaning out the aisle. My choices were limited to Ruffles, but at least I did have options. I could choose from either the Sour Cream & Onion the Sweet n Smokin’ BBQ flavors. These were not for me.
Off I headed toward the front of the store to find a checker. It was an easy process. As I approached I saw that of the, get this, twenty-one available check-out stations, only two were open. One had six people waiting on the line, and the other none. What’s the matter with these people? I quickly headed for what appeared to be the faster of the two options and stepped in line. That’s when I saw the person ahead of me, who of course, turned out to be the fussiest woman on the planet. She had filled the counter with all of her items, so I thought, no problem, she’ll be gone in about three minutes, five tops. Then I got a good glance at her cart and saw that it was still full. I thought about switching checkout lines when I saw the other line was now even longer. By then, eight people were in its queue, all of whom had probably paid greater attention to the moment than me. I was committed to the initial check-out line of my choice. After several anxious minutes I surrendered to what would eventually end up being a healthy wait and began to entertain myself by speculating exactly how much this woman, who surely must be making a purchase for the Marines, was going to spend. About ten minutes later I got my answer: $593.47. I had just witnessed the purchase of the biggest grocery order I’ve seen in my life. That’s a lot of money, but at least she saved over $60 with her Safeway card!
The afternoon came to an end and I headed home, without my chips, ready to watch the day’s main event, Puppy Bowl IX. I was not disappointed. The little guys ran their little tushies and tails off. Best of all, I learned that the contestants were all shelter dogs who had already been adopted by loving families.
And so my “Baseball Fan’s Superbowl Sunday II” came to a close. I had a wonderful day which included a celebration with two wonderful friends, baseball conversations with two knowledgeable fans, a breath-taking walk along the Marina Green, a trip through the isles of a nearly empty Marina Safeway, a check in with my New York pals Gary and Barry and a spirited Puppy Bowl IX. I’m really starting to like these Super Bowl Sundays. Maybe they should do them more often.