By Charles Redfern
The clock ticks for every patriotic American. “Decision time” approaches amid churning philosophical, sociological, and even theological schmaltz – and we don’t know which enigma from which category will tilt the balance. We’re confused. We’re muddled. We’re baffled. We wonder if the days of blind faith were not so bad after all.
I speak, of course, of the need to pick a team in this upcoming World Series.
I have an advantage this year. I’m a totally neutral Red Sox fan, so I know the supporters in San Francisco and Arlington will be lucky if these games achieve a faded asterisk when they’re forgotten an hour after the umpire hollers the last “Out!” The term “fall classic” triggers a hack and a guffaw – and that nation-wide rumbling is the sound of a million clearing throats and thirteen million smothered laughs. I feel compassion. Those misguided Western souls actually think this particular series adds up to more than a Little League exhibition match! How will we tell them the painful truth? Should we do a “confrontation?”
My absolute objectivity has landed me in a strange on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand world. On the one hand, I should cheer the Rangers in sheer gratitude. They halted the Dark Lord’s advance. Malevolence threatened once more; the black clouds were spreading; chaos loomed; “the eye” beheld the ring and reached out … but the Rangers defeated the Yankees and rescued civilization. Surely we must all be thankful.
On the other hand, the Giants are one of the National League’s storied teams. They won 18 pennants and five world championships in their Polo Ground era – and they gave us John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Orlando Cepeda. They have more Hall-of-Famers and have won more games than anyone else, yet they’ve endured the third-longest world championship drought. Few remember the glory days of 1954. We want more from the fabled shot-heard-round-the-world and THE-GIANTS-HAVE-WON-THE-PENNANT squad: Bobby Thompson homers to clinch the 1951 National League title and the Dodgers sulk off the field …
On the other hand …
The Giants and the Dodgers: New York’s subway rivalry still lives on the West Coast – and I was a fanatical Dodger worshipper in my childhood near Los Angeles in the ‘60’s. I saw Sandy Koufax pitch. I saw Maury Wills steal bases. I saw Willie Mays miss a Dodger pitcher’s fastball with his tremendous swing (the crowd gasped: I kid you not). Would applauding the Giants betray my childhood team? Maybe – but I remember how we all loved Mays and McCovey anyway (never mention pitcher Juan Marichal and how he struck Dodger catcher John Roseboro with his bat). The Dodger-Giant rivalry was just that: a rivalry between two great lineups. The Red Sox-Yankee feud is, of course, a million notches more important. It’s Good versus Evil, the Elves versus the Orcs, Gandalf versus Saruman – which brings us back to Texas and the world’s debt to the Rangers.
But there’s yet another hand: San Francisco is a beautiful city that recovered from the cataclysmic 1906 earthquake to become a cultural and intellectual Mecca. Trends begin there. Think of the Beatniks, poetry readings, music, and Haight-Ashbury. Imagine Sly and the Family Stone singing “Hot Fun in the Summertime” on the Golden Gate Bridge. That captures San Francisco’s essence. The Rangers, alas, play in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the land of JR’s greed. I shiver.
So the on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand struggle ebbs and flows deep into the night. Who will we root for? Who will win? And who will care after the umpire flings his thumb for the last out?
It’s a mystery.