by Todd Hawley
Somehow baseball, and the trivial arguments about whether Bonds was an asshole, or Dodger fans were jerks, or Benard didn't deserve to play, didn't matter one damn bit
April seems so far away now, as if from another decade. Back on opening day, and in May, and throughout the entire summer, our worries were about how crappy the Giants were on offense, how Marvin Benard again totally stank, and how the Giants were a "flawed" team. Our arguments consisted of whether they could hold off the aging Diamondbacks, the underachieving Dodgers, and the other NL West teams on their way to a division title.
The Giants newsgroup posts were the usual fare of rants and whines, when they weren't talking about the amazing home run pace Bonds was on and could he catch McGwire's "epic" record of 70 home runs. Everything seemed normal, and it was, until September 11, 2001.
In a flash, thousands of people were gone, and as we all watched the countless replays of the unspeakable horror of the plane smashing into the World Trade Center towers, somehow baseball, and the trivial arguments about whether Bonds was an asshole, or Dodger fans were jerks, or Benard didn't deserve to play, didn't matter one damn bit. At that point we no longer were divided into Giants or Dodgers or Diamondbacks fans. We all were Americans and we had been savagely and viciously attacked by an unknown enemy.
As we lit candles to honor the dead and tried to come to terms with the tragedy, it seemed somehow appropriate that the games be postponed to allow all of us some time to shake our heads, hold our hands over our faces, shed tears, and ask ourselves why. Funny how for probably the first time ever, I agreed with a decision made by "Bud Lite," namely to cancel games until Monday, September 17.
And yes, the games did go on, as they should have. In St. Louis, during the pregame ceremonies that next Monday, legendary Cardinals announcer Jack Buck spoke to the crowd and said, "Should the games resume? The answer is yes!" Somehow a veteran voice, someone who had seen the horrors of war and tragedy, could reassure a crowd, a city, and a nation that, yes, it was the right thing to do, that it was a way to return to normal. Although returning to normal, at least the normal we knew before September 11, seems impossible now.
Baseball has seen the ravages of greed, fan apathy, God knows what, and still it remains. Now it is one of many ways to attempt to heal our nation and to give us a diversion from this new war.
Bonds did get his 70 home runs (73, in fact) and while the Giants spent the postseason watching instead of participating, somehow it just doesn't matter. Baseball and our Giants will always be around, and we on the newsgroup went back eventually to argue about whether or not Bonds would come back, or how cheap the Giants' management is, or whatever topic is the hottest one to talk about on the group.
But the World Series involved the Yankees again, and if it hadn't been for that amazing Game 7 comeback in the bottom of the ninth against the previously invincible Mariano Rivera, we'd be toasting the Yankees again (gag!) as the World Champs. Funny how I was forced to cheer for Arizona to beat them! Of course, during the whole Series, the specter of what had been the WTC still hovered nearby every time a fan would look out toward the New York skyline. Somehow, when we have to worry about a "holy war," anthrax scares, a wrecked economy, and terrorism threats, it's difficult not to put all of that into perspective when talking about something as seemingly trivial as baseball.
Our world has changed forever, and not for the better.
Todd Hawley has, without a doubt, achieved the coveted status of EEEEEE! veteran. The traditional method of celebration on his behalf is to send lots of money both to Todd and to EEEEEE! Plaza Heights Towers. All we need is PayPal.
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