The Baseball God
Monday, April 24, 1995 by Dave Winer.
On March 10 I said "...my flowers, incubating in their fertilized beds, are waiting for the sun to come out. It's going to be a glorious bloom this year. There'll be lots of love! It's just a matter of weeks. Maybe days."
Hmmmm, it was a matter of weeks not days. But we're there now! Man them nasturtiums are big! The sweet peas are poppin. And the surprise star of my spring garden, the strawberries, are huge, green and numerous. It's a love festival! Spring has finally come, and not a moment too soon!
Spring has a magic effect on people. Smiles everywhere. It reminds me that the best happiness is one you can share.
Were you in New York in 1969 when the Mets won the World Series? I was. I was a high school student, I lived in Queens, close to Shea Stadium. I actually grew up 10 blocks from Shea Stadium. I went to lots of Mets games with my brother and my friends. The Mets themselves lived in our neighborhood. I mowed the lawn of one of the Mets pitchers, Bob Shaw. Jerry Grote, the Mets catcher, lived a few blocks away. I was more than a fan, I felt connected to the team.
We loved the Mets when they lost, and of course we still loved them when they won. And in 1969, the Mets won it all. The World Champion New York Mets. It was a very, very strange thing to try to understand!
The amazing thing about 1969 in New York, the summer of love, the summer of Woodstock and the moon landing, was the effect on the whole city that the Mets victory had. I went to school in the Bronx, the home of the Yankees. Rode the subway thru Manhattan, the home of American business. On that day in 1969 when the Mets did the impossible, you could walk onto a subway car and get this... everyone was smiling!
There was no sadness in New York that day. The city with no heart all of a sudden had a huge one! Even in the Bronx, even in the subways, we all shared the Tug McGraw feeling -- You Gotta Believe! For a generation after that, when we needed an example of how strange life can be, how great it can be to be alive, we always had the example of the Amazing Mets of 1969.
I think happiness and love are inclusive feelings. If you're in love, if you're happy, you want to share everything with everyone. Love is sharing and vice versa. I think they're the same thing.
So when I look at my flowers I think of the Mets. My flowers are glad to be alive. There's no mistaking that! Look at how beautiful they are. They are nothing other than a celebration of life. They share that with me, I care for them. It's a win-win. Total!
The Mets were great in the early 60s, even if they didn't seem great, because they had the seeds of greatness in them. It was their destiny to rise above their obvious and glaring mediocrity, to shake out the bugs, to hit home runs, make amazing catches and pitch 1-hitters and lots of shutouts. Watching the ball go thru Frank Thomas's legs in center field, watching Marv Throneberry miss second base after hitting a ball that could only be a triple, these were just warmup exercises for Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Tug McGraw, Bud Harrelson, Tommy Agee, Ed Kranepool, Art Shamsky and Cleon Jones. The 69 Mets were the bloom, but the flower was planted long before, in the good positive energy that the Mets created in their bozo days in the early 60s.
Eventually the Mets lost their love, embroiled in personalities, became just another contender. They couldn't overcome their success. They became the team of losers, talented men like Daryl Strawberry, who struggled mightily to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And New York went back to being the city of snarls and angry horn honkers. Unhappy, unloved and unloving people who couldn't smile with anything but cynicism. But there was hope, it turns out -- in 1986, the team rose to greatness again, in a lovefest led by the man with the most unlikely name -- Mookie Wilson!
But that's another story, for another day.
I'm a mystic when it comes to baseball. Living in California, I'm also a mystic when it comes to earthquakes.
Earthquakes are minor events for the planet, even if they are major events for human civilization. A big earthquake is incredibly disruptive. Lots of energy! It can knock out bridges and highways, level neighborhoods, start fires, and of course injure and even kill people.
We all know the Big One is coming, so we enjoy the blessings of California with an implicit caveat. If we live long enough, we know that we're going to experience total chaos in our lives at some time in the future, when one of the faults that criss-cross the state decides it's time to throw all our cards in the air. Or, put another way, when we anger the Earthquake God so much that he or she decides to teach us a lesson. There will be many opportunities for personal growth when that happens! That's life in California.
This may not sound like a baseball story. But it is...
In 1989, the pennant race shaped up in a very interesting way. The Oakland As won the American League Western Division, and the San Francisco Giants won the National League West. I went to a lot of games that year, including one of the Giants playoff games at Candlestick Park. The As were an established Great Team, with great pitching and two huge power hitters. The Giants had great energy and lots of talent, but were a young team. The Giants played with huge intensity, in many ways they reminded me of the 69 Mets.
Anyway -- the miracle happened! Both teams won their pennants. For the first time in my generation, a subway series was happening, and I was there for it, living on the San Francisco peninsula at the time.
Ohhhhh but the Bay Area did not handle this very well!
Vendors sold baseball caps that were split in two, one side with the green and gold As look, and the other side with the black and orange Giants look. The logo in the front was split in two, half a gold A and half an orange SF.
Anna Chavez, the anchor on KGO-TV said: "Isn't it great Pete! No matter who wins, *we* win!" Imagine her putting both of her index fingers to her cheeks, twisting them slightly and swaying her head from side to side. I groaned when I heard her say it. "This is not good."
In baseball, like other things in life, eventually you have to choose sides. In baseball, someone has to lose. You can't have a win-win. That's just the way it is! You have to have an opinion. You Gotta Believe!
So, with the whole world focused on Candlestick Park, for the opening game of the 1989 World Series, what happens?
Being a mystic, I have to see it this way: the gods made a deal. The Baseball God said to the Earthquake God: "we gotta stop this!"
A big one! [Not *the* big one, thank god!]
Eventually, they played the series, but more as a matter of civic pride than from any need to play it from a baseball standpoint. A World Series victory is the accumulation of megatons of energy. The series was already over. The Giants couldn't win. The As couldn't win.
The gods won! [As they always do. Of course.]
Your humble servant,