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In this baseball postseason, more than the mood is electric

The scene: inside Angel Stadium, with Boston Red Sox fans all around.

October 15, 2009|CHRIS ERSKINE

Diary of a mad sports fan:

Dear Diary,

While buying beer at Angel Stadium last week, I was actually carded, another miracle in a baseball season that seems ripe with them. I'm 52, going on 102, and there is nothing young about me except maybe my bridgework. Oh, and my love of a festive ballpark.

That night, Angel Stadium looked like Oz as we exited the 57, lighted as if by Spielberg. Me and the kid (my human rally monkey) were the last ones to arrive -- three stop-and-go hours from Pasadena; we should have walked. But they saved us a couple of seats down the third-base line.

We were surrounded by Red Sox fans -- Munchkins with chips on their shoulders and Budweiser on their breath. I expected a tad of unpleasantness, then the kid admitted he was actually, really a Red Sox fan himself, something he hadn't disclosed in the car.

"Go, Big Papi!" the 6-year-old screamed.

Of course, the sons of anarchy sitting nearby immediately adopted him as one of their own, handing him Red Sox wristbands and hearty slaps on his little back. He smiled. They smiled back. It was love.

Before I know it, he's got his paws on a couple of Thunderstix, which I hate more than Donna Summer, whom I hate more than frozen pizza or mail-in rebates.

In the old days, if you didn't like the people around you, you just spilled beer everywhere and acted generally obnoxious. Now, to completely alienate someone, all you do is sit back and bang together these plastic, inflated Thunderstix. They look so much like hot dogs, I tried to eat one. Not bad. In fact, better than what Wienerschnitzel serves.

Thwack, thwack, thwack. Thwack, thwack, thwack.

God, what's happened to our ballparks? The multiple video screens, the screechy Van Halen, the billboards pleading MAKE SOME NOISE. I love every lousy minute of it, despite myself. Well done, owners. For a modern ballpark is electric, in all ways -- though it is becoming the absolute worst place to actually watch a game.

Next thing, they'll be wiring all the seats to give each fan a little jolt with every home run. I predict the masses will love that. They're bug-eyed as it is, these fans, their tongues slapping out of their faces like Marmaduke. The electric jolts will let them spasm in new and exciting ways. It may change the course of human breeding, of evolution itself.

Like you, I welcome that day.


Dear Diary,

In the men's room, 20 urinals, 60 men, you do the math. Guys are lined up three and four deep when some pipsqueak in the middle -- not me, some other pipsqueak -- begins to lead a cheer, something along the lines of "Red Sox [stink]! Red Sox [stink]!"

Aside from the fact that this is true, I'm not sure it's something that needs to be shouted in a crowded men's room in the seventh inning of another crushing Red Sox defeat. In fact, other than "FLOOD!" or "VICE SQUAD!" there is almost nothing you can yell in a crowded men's room that's going to benefit the greater good.

"Actually, I think the Phillies will win the World Series," one guy says during a lull in the shouting, and everybody laughs.

Yep, everyone is laughing these days. The Angels and Dodgers have both made it to the semifinals by crushing opponents who used to give them fits. It has been almost too easy, hasn't it? Feels like a setup. Still, there is an aura about both these teams, the sense that more miracles are in store.

Hey, if I can still get carded in a beer line, almost anything can happen.


Dear Diary,

This is also the year of the Self-Effacing Genius -- Joe Torre in our case, Brett Favre in the case of that Eskimo football team in the far North.

The Self-Effacing Genius (I guess Gustavo Dudamel qualifies too) is that rare, gifted bird we see only once a generation. There is a core confidence, of course, yet the only person who doesn't go overboard about the genius' greatness is the genius himself.

Self-Effacing Geniuses are candid, classy and human, even as they triumph in ways we mortals only dream about. In a world brimming with canned quotes and paranoid egomaniacs (Bill Belichick, Rick Pitino, Terrell Owens), the Self-Effacing Genius gives us faith that good guys can finish first and on their own terms.

Indeed, they are a very small and select club. Tom Watson is a Self-Effacing Genius. Derek Jeter is too. Vin Scully is the dean of the club, having invented the concept of the humble genius back in the 1590s, or whenever it was he was born.

And in the case of Torre and Favre, they are performing this year for every poor sap whose boss gave up on him too quickly, who was shown the door for no good reason at all.

Oh, what a couple of weeks this is turning out to be, filled with triumph, justice, humanity.

Lord, I feel 15. Go ahead, card me.


Erskine also writes "Man of the House" in Saturday's Home section.

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