Friday, October 1, 2010


Shift #84

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29 -- Oh my goodness!

ON JANUARY 9, 1982
, after several increasingly-seductive, exploratory visits, I arrived in San Francisco and started calling it my home. I spent my first few nights with my friends Nancy and Bob whose Cow Hollow flat had a wide-angle view out over the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

I was not a football fan when I arrived, but on the day after my arrival I sat on the living room sofa with Bob and Nancy and several of their friends and watched a San Francisco 49ers football game. The 49ers were having a completely unexpected run: two seasons prior, the team had won just two games and lost fourteen and had watched the playoffs from the comfort of their own sofas. But this year they had reached the second-to-last round of the playoffs. In the final moments of this, my first 49ers game, an incredibly tense game against the feared and loathed Dallas Cowboys, 49ers’ quarterback Joe Montana floated a high pass toward the back of the end zone. Lanky 49ers receiver Dwight Clark leapt for it and latched onto the ball with all ten of his fingers -- this play is immortalized as “The Catch” -- and when Clark’s feet touched down onto the grass of the end zone, just in bounds, the City and the entire Bay Area region erupted in a wave of all-hands-on-deck euphoria, the likes of which would not be seen for another twenty-six years…

IF YOU DROVE AROUND SAN FRANCISCO on the night of November 4, 2008, the night Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, you saw smiling lunatics jumping up and down on every corner, in every neighborhood. Four years earlier, almost no one in the country had ever heard of Obama -- he was a newcomer to politics, a member of the Illinois state legislature, but then he’d given a rockin’ speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, and suddenly everyone knew him. In November 2004, he was elected to the US Senate. In February 2007 he announced his candidacy for President, and in 2008, well, you know...

In San Francisco, Obama-mania burned intensely for about two weeks, flared again during the period surrounding his inauguration (and the departure of the -- boo-hiss -- George W. Bush administration), and then started to fade as it came to be understood that Obama (oh my god!) was actually a human being. (In contrast, “Catch” euphoria lasted about a decade, during which four Super Bowl trophies were delivered to San Francisco, where Joe Montana and Dwight Clark are still considered immortals). San Franciscans began looking for some other odds-defying development to blow us away, and hoping that its arrival wouldn’t require another twenty-six year wait…

IT DIDN’T... Last night, not even two years since the night of Obama’s election, and twenty-eight years after The Catch, the San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers 9-0. The Giants now lead the best-of-seven World Series two-games-to-none, having beaten the Texas Rangers 11-7 in Game One, and again in last night’s Game Two shocker. Nine-zip! (To see a Game One closeup of my daughter and I sitting in “our skybox” -- also known as “the last two seats in the stadium,” click here, and then zoom in to the top two seats in the upper left part of the ballpark. You’ll see the two of us wearing orange, right in front of the Fox cameraman and a photographer from Major League Baseball.)

THIS MORNING the whole town is floating, doing our damnedest not to gloat. We’re two wins away from the first-ever World Series championship in San Francisco history, and we’re nearly out of our collective skin. By 1 P.M. I’ve given away four free rides.

My very first fare is a fellow from Argentina who knows absolutely nothing about baseball: What the heck -- Free ride! A couple from Anaheim is celebrating their fifth anniversary with a weekend in San Francisco: Free ride! Another fare, who has just arrived from New York with an overstuffed suitcase, goes from one Union Square Hotel to another just a few blocks away (one of my cab driver brethren had dropped him at the wrong hotel): Hey, free ride! Another man is going from Second and Market to an office across the street from the ballpark to deliver a bottle of whiskey to a client who had secured World Series tickets for him: Free ride...!

Almost everyone is euphoric, some are talking sweep, but I’m not buying it. The Rangers could so easily win four straight. I’m glad for the season we’ve had. I’m hoping for more. Still, I’m taking nothing for granted. Sure, I’m sky-high along with the rest of this city, which I long ago began calling “God’s favorite city.” I hope that’s not too much gloating -- I hope I don’t jinx anything.

Go Giants!


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