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Personal Voices: The Giants' Loss

This World Series felt like more than a game -- it seemed like a snapshot of political life in America. And just as we "lost" the Presidency two years ago and lost Paul Wellstone last week, we lost the Series.
 
 
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This morning I wondered why, after the devastating news about Paul Wellstone, which means not only the loss of a principled man and the only senator in a close race to have the guts to cast a "no" vote on the war in Iraq, but whose death could tip the fragile balance of power in the Senate; and why, after reading a snotty and inaccurate cover story about a social issue I care deeply about, drug policy reform, in none other than Time magazine; I awakened with a lump in my throat ... about the San Francisco Giants' loss in the World Series.

I am, after all, not your average sports fan, and not supposed to feel this way. I'm a 54-year-old mother of two, and in the regular season I barely follow the Giants -- occasionally checking the standings in the paper, going to a couple of games each year at Pac Bell park and taking an annual trip to Dodger Stadium to root for the Giants on the home turf of our arch rivals. Not enough to wake up with a lump in my throat this morning.

On the other hand, I have other, more familial connections to the Giants. My 90-year-old uncle, Art Rosenbaum, was the editor of the Chronicle's Sporting Green (when it was really green) for 26 years, so I grew up watching the Giants. During the 1960s I went to countless games at the Stick and spent more time with my father (an avid fan who went to every home day game and kept a transistor radio at his ear during the games he had to miss) than in any other setting. My first Chronicle byline, back in 1960, and using the pseudonym, Marsha Mardell, was about a girl (myself) tumbling into the Giants dugout, losing consciousness, and being revived by the greats, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

For any Giants fan, the past two months were an incredible ride. We took the Wild Card from the hated Dodgers and that alone was sweet. And then we cinched the Division and that was even sweeter. When the pennant race started, San Francisco got focused and serious about baseball. By last week, the World Series had consumed the City.

City Hall was aglow in a beautiful orange. Giants signs were everywhere. Everyone wanted to go to a Series game. I happened to see my dentist, my chiropractor and my optometrist last week, and all three had tickets to one game or another. San Francisco, the tolerant, not-known-for-being-macho Amsterdam of America, where some 50,000 marched for peace on Saturday, got into baseball.

It was easy to become emotionally involved, whether you attended games or not. Those of us who watched the games on TV got to know the team intimately. Dozens of close camera angles, not to mention hearing those conversations at the mound (which felt like eavesdropping), allowed us to see every play (more than once), every expression, every gesture. Who will forget, for example, Kenny Lofton's grin when he got the hit that got "us" into the Series? Or JT's bubbles and his ability to multitask -- demonstrating that as a modern man, he could score a run and babysit at the same time?

The Giants became our family. For three weeks in October, we experienced their anxiety, their joy, their camaraderie, their frustration, and now, their deep disappointment.

But it felt like more than a game. I couldn't help but notice some serious praying in Anaheim Saturday night, with hands clasped and heads bowed, as though the religious right had taken up baseball. The Series seemed a snapshot of political life in America: Orange County versus San Francisco. And just as we "lost" the Presidency two years ago; lost a progressive politician this week; and seem to be losing our ability to shape the political course of our country; we lost the World Series.

Maybe that's why I have a lump in my throat. The San Francisco Chronicle headline yesterday morning read, INCONSOLABLE. They got that one just right.