Friday, April 06, 2007

E Pluribus Unum

Last night Hubs and I took DS#2 and one of his friends to the Giants vs. Padres baseball game. I knew I'd be prayin'--sure enough, with a 5-2 lead, the Giants brought out Armando Benitez who managed to walk the tying run on base (with a runner on) and bring the go-ahead run to a 3-2 count.

37,000 people (okay--it was a little bit less by that time) were on their feet, yelling. Most of them were wearing black and orange. Some of them were yelling in a language other than English. But we all had one focus, one common goal.

Throw a strike, Benitez!

(Did I mention that this is the third game of the season and the Giants had lost the first two to the Padres?)

During the game, the camera pans the crowd. Young and old, rich and poor, business executives in suits and manual laborers sat cheek by jowl. When the Giants scored I high-fived the Hispanic-looking guy next to me who drives four hours up from the Central Valley to catch about three games a month. I high-fived the black-couple behind me. I high-fived Hubs and the boys, who were, of course, high-fiving everyone around them.

It was almost like the Kiss of Peace in my parish.

This is part of why baseball is America's Pastime--this interaction across cultures and generations. Baseball is, essentially, a pretty simple game. One guy throws to a guy who tries to hit it. He either does or doesn't. If he does, the other guys try to catch the ball before it hits the ground. They either do or they don't. If they do, he's out. If they don't, they try to get the ball to the base before he does. If they do, he's out. If they don't, he's safe.

Watch an inning of baseball and you'll probably figure most of the game out. Watch a quarter of football and someone will still have to explain what's going on. (When I was a kid, the concept of four downs confused me. It didn't help that my dad did a poor job of explaining it! :)

And there's tradition--a stadium full of people singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th Inning Stretch. Maybe that should be our National Anthem!

For some insight on the game of baseball before live television, check this out: (The Seals were the San Francisco team in the old Pacific Coast League. The current Giants mascot, Lou Seal, is in honor of them.)