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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A weekly column for those who live and walk in Silicon Valley

by Barbara Dahlgren

Just a Game
Column for the week of October 27-November 2, 2002

The camera zoomed in on little Darren Baker's tear stained face. That seemed to say it all. San Francisco Giants manager, Dusty Baker, held his crying son, the same little boy that J. T. Snow had grabbed to safety at home plate last Thursday night. Both father and son knew it was over and the Giants weren't quite as tall in the eyes of the fans as they were a week ago. After 7 games, they lost the World Series to the Anaheim Angels. Fans stopped saying, "What a game" and started saying, "It's only a ball game." You can always spot the losers. They're the ones who say, "It's only a game."

It's difficult to have hard feelings for the Angels. After all, they were the real underdogs. They'd never even made it to a World Series before. Gene Autry, that "Back in the Saddle Again" singer/cowboy/movie star/musician, bought the baseball team over 40 years ago, partially to fill up air time on one of the radio stations he owned but mostly because he loved the game. Gene had been somewhat of baseball player himself in his younger days. He died in 1998 at the age of 91 never seeing the Angels do too well. When Autry became the first country musician to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he said, "There's only one day that will be bigger than this one for me, and that's when we win the World Series." He never saw that day, but "Somewhere," Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said, "Gene Autry is smiling right now."

The stadiums were full of die-hard fans so it's hard to believe that the World Series has lost television viewers over the years. It even lost one-fourth of the audience it had last year. Many think it's because the games are too long. The average length of one 2002 series game was a little over three and a half hours. Commissioner Selig has stated, "We've had a marvelous World Series, but I'm tired of talking about the length of games. I can assure you we are going to do something about it." He has determined to speed up the games. I don't know how he'll do it but I'm all for that. Next to golf, baseball has got to be the most boring game to watch.

Yes, I know, when someone hits the ball the crowd goes wild. That's because they are so excited to see something, anything happen. You do the math. Time spent seeing guys hit and run - 10 to 25 minutes tops! Time spent seeing them swing and miss, pitch, swing and pop up, pitch, hit a foul ball, catch, stand there and chew gum, stand there and strike out, pitch, stand there and walk to first base, and so on and so forth - 3 hours or more! And not only do you get to see them pitch and swing and miss once, you get to see the replay of them doing exactly the same thing over and over and over and over again.

But hey, even I caught the fever on the last 3 games and watched. As one Angels fan said, "I was just praying they would win." Well, I'm not sure those are the kinds of prayers God hears. After all, there is probably someone on the opposite team praying that you lose. In the scheme of life does God really care who wins the World Series? And then when a team loses, those praying fans say, "Oh, it's just a ball game!"

I overheard a conversation between two Giants fans the day after they lost the series.

Fan #1 - "Too bad the Giants lost."

Fan #2 - "Yeah, well, it's just a baseball game."

Fan #1 - "Yeah, it's just a ball game." Then he grinned sheepishly and said, "But how about those 49ers?"

"Oh no," I thought. "Here we go again!"

©October 2002

Be sure to visit this page every week to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at bdahlgren@wcgsouthbay.org.



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