You may not see it, but I see a parallel with the Trojan War. Thus did the goddess Athena disguise herself to lure Hector out of Troy to do battle with Achilles, who causes Hector’s inevitable death. And likewise, the gods tease the Tigers into thinking they can prevail, that it's a level playing field. And then the gods, for their own entertainment, begin siding, sliding and abiding with our home team.
How else account for a ball hitting third base to the bafflement of the Tigers, whose minds seemed momentarily clouded. How else does Pablo “Panda” Sandoval smack the ball over the wall three times against a pitcher who sneers when his coach comes out to the pitcher’s mound to check on him? He’s that good so it’s an insult. Only the gods could make a clutch hitter out of Barry Zito, the pitcher. Pitchers don’t have to hit the ball. Everyone knows that.
I stopped watching that first game before the final score was 8-3 because I had decided to go to a dharma talk and intended to walk to the Zen Center on Laguna at Page. Again along the way I saw the gods at play; how else explain camaraderie instead of the usual dark night wariness? Down Gough and up Hayes, people laughed and chatted good-naturedly. I doubt anyone would ask a stranger, “Hey, why are you talking to me? Do I know you?”
Being filled with and surrounded by good will and aware that the gods have intervened, I feel as if I carry close to my heart a miraculous ball of light, and I want to show it to anyone willing to share it. When a man pushing a shopping cart passes, I dazzle him thusly: “We are winning six to nothing and Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs.” I can see he is happy at the good news. We exchange smiles, and I continue along Laguna.
At the Zen Center, as one might expect, it’s mostly silent. I don’t see anyone checking a mobile device. I have left mine at home. Adding my red leather sandals to the shoes outside the door of the room where Rev. Keiryu Lien Shutt will give the dharma talk, I settle on a padded bench along the side of the room. Once Reverend Shutt performs the rituals that precede a dharma talk, and adjusts the hem of her robe to cover her feet, and thanks her teacher and the one who invited her to speak, she asks us the score of Game One.
Baseball is not a religion and the Greek gods long ago emptied their closets on Mount Olympus and no longer visit woods, groves or kitchens, but some gods seem to hover over the SF Giants. They cause community wherever folks pass each other or gather – at the opera, in bars, restaurants, on dimly lit sidewalks or on BART where fans periodically yell out the score.
One such community of Giant fans settled in Section 140 at the ballpark is like a family, and reporter Mike Kepka writes of them in the Oct. 28 San Francisco Chronicle in an article called “Love in left field.” He writes, “In this story the regulars in Section 140 are the Giants. They represent everything that is great about baseball and a city that loves its team.”
Following the Giants’ sweep of the Tigers in ten innings at rainy, cold Comerica Park in Detroit, Giant General Manager Bruce Bochy praised the team for playing unselfishly. It was a collective win!! Nobody asked but I believe the gods are smirking as they stroll among the thousands and thousands of fans celebrating in Civic Center and throughout the city. And there’s an occasional very high five.