Justin Klugh of That Ball’s Outta Here was kind enough to write about his tour of AT&T Park, home to the world champion San Francisco Giants. As an eternal pessimist, I enjoyed reading about the tour from his viewpoint — a social outcast. Although the two cities are three thousand miles apart, it would be interesting if a rivalry developed between the Phillies and Giants.
. . .
It’s 11:30 am on a Wednesday and I am the only person in this cube farm. Not even noon, and the senior editors have tossed the keys to the unpaid editorial intern. I’d love to sit here and tell you it’s because my journalistic skills won’t be denied; that the head honchos at this magazine saw my potential and offered me a high-paying gig on the spot, simply because of my irrepressible skill and roguish charm.
Today, my bosses have exited the building before lunch time to go gallivanting about the streets of San Francisco, cheering and whooping as the World Champion Giants are escorted through the city in what I can only imagine is some sort of lackluster, locally-sourced victory parade.
I glance around my cubicle like a prisoner in the hole, and try to convince myself that the cheers and screams coming from outside are because of a horrific traffic accident. I briefly entertain the notion of eating all the lunches in the break room fridge.
“Aren’t you coming?” asks the assistant editor from down the hall.
Quietly wading in a pool of my own bitterness and pretty stupid revenge schemes, I hadn’t heard her approach, and flinch dramatically. She wears a Giants hat. Her shirt demands that I “Fear the Beard.” I refused.
It seemed like a glacially paced nightmare as the Phillies and Giants slowly crept towards their eventual playoff meeting from September-October. Then, as it became clearer and clearer that the Giants were there to outplay us, I found myself clawing at any available salvation while the metropolis around me exploded in a sea of cheers. What were the odds that I would leave Philadelphia and then wind up in the city of the enemy for the NLCS?
One of the other editors approached my desk, ready to head out, and grinned knowingly toward my involuntary grimace. “Oh, he’s not coming,” he said to his friend as he pulled a clearly-purchased-yesterday Giants hoodie over his head. “He’s the Phillies fan.”
At the beginning of the San Francisco-based internship that would eventually leave me alone in the office during the World Series parade, I was asked to come up with some idea for a long-term article. After a brief, uninteresting attempt to discover conspiracies in the local government, I gave up and decided to once more write about baseball. My editor was pretty jazzed.
“I see you walking around on the field of AT&T Park,” he said, “… getting a real good look at the sustainable practices they’ve been putting in.”
Months later, the intriguing personal guided tour of the stadium had turned into something of a death march through an enemy encampment. The woman showing me around asked where I was from originally.
“Philadelphia,” I said without thinking, after having rehearsed saying “Peoria, Illinois” all morning. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, I just didn’t feel like dealing with the bullshit smiles and jokes that would undoubtedly follow the revelation. Whoops.
“Ooooh, Philly,” she replied, as if I had just said the name of a murder victim. “We’ll try not to hold that against you.”
While meeting the head groundskeeper, she of course brought up this aspect of my background. “He’s from Philadelphia,” she said. “But we’re trying not to hold that against him.”
“Oh, I will!” he replied. “We still beat ‘um!”
“HA HA HA” I laughed loudly, trying to drown him out.
“Here, you’ll appreciate this,” said Jorge Costa, VP of Ballpark Operations for AT&T Park. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wilted wrist band that looked like it came from a carnival and had allowed him to ride all the rides. “I guess I haven’t worn these pants since Game Six of the NLCS, because that’s when I got it.”
The wristlet was decorated with pink roller skates, and he went on to tell me how the Citizens Bank Park staff had given them out to the Giants employees at the game once the series had returned to Philadelphia. They needed a form of identification to prove who they were to security (Which was beefed up that night, for some strange reason).
“They said, ‘We felt this was only appropriate.,” Jorge explained, and laughed. “I thought, ‘Okay, but only because when we win, this will make you feel all the more ridiculous.”
“Ridiculous” was only one of the adjectives I felt leaving a bar in California on the last night of 2010 Phillies baseball. Losing is one thing, losing gutwrenchingly is another; but doing so in a room full of 50 drunken people who are glad that it happened to you is another experience entirely.
The whole time I was touring the stadium, I hoped maybe somebody would slip… maybe some bit of corruption or greed would bleed through the inner workings of the facility.
The truth is, I would have loved it. I would have gleefully recorded it if the San Francisco Giants were choking the horizon with gaseous billows of smog; if they were spewing barrel after barrel of toxic sludge into McCovey Cove, creating ghastly abominations throughout the local wildlife.
Because then I could shout “A-ha!” and point a finger, and become known as “Justin, the handsome young intern who brought the secretly world-destroying Giants to their knees.”
I can’t, though.
Not only are the Giants World Series champs, but the organization has greened their facilities way beyond the bare minimum; and honestly, all of their employees were incredibly hospitable and friendly.
The fan in me may be sickened by the success they’ve had in baseball this past season. But the human being in me is grateful someone in a position of power isn’t letting the bias and petty grievances so clearly defined by people like me stop them from doing some good in an era when it’s needed most.
A few days later, I was on my bike and stopped at an intersection. As I waited for the light to turn green, I noticed a flyer taped to the side of a sign post: “LOST KEYS!” it announced. “THREE KEYS WITH A GIANTS LANYARD! PLEASE CALL IF FOUND.”
Without even thinking, I yanked out a pen and scrawled “GIANTS SUCK” next to the phone number. It was three in the morning. I was sort of drunk.
We can’t all be heroes.
. . .
If you enjoyed reading Justin’s account of his guided tour, be sure to add That Ball’s Outta Here to your bookmarks — keep tabs on his thoughts on all things Phillies-related.