I learned to speak baseball from my father. Dad worked in the yard with a transistor radio in his breast pocket, scratchy Giants baseball buzzing in the air around us. He translated for me. Double play. ERA. RBI. Sacrifice fly. Radio baseball hypnotized me.
Mays and McCovey played better when I listened, I felt certain. A thin thread connected us through the small crackling box in my Dad's pocket. It was personal, this invisible game, and I knew that my faith in the Giants paid off at the plate.
Occasionally my intrepid parents piled all six kids into the station wagon and headed for Candlestick. We never quite made it into the park for the first pitch. Stuck in gridlock at game time, my Dad would mutter "Scrud!" and turn on KSFO. Fine by me -- radio delivered baseball in its purest form. By the top of the third, we would make it to our seats. The brilliant green infield and the sing-song chant of the concessionaires distracted me. Was this about baseball or frozen Carnation malts? Then the crowd would erupt for the home team. Our shared passion for the game and the guys who played it electrified me. It was personal to all of us. We believed in the boys in orange and black.
This week I will somehow carve 20 hours out of my life for baseball. It's not the high-tech, sexy entertainment event or garlic fries that draw me to the game. No. The irresistible thread hooked me just as easily 40 years ago, in rasping low-tech play-by-play.
How we watch or listen to the Series will vary. Why we watch probably aligns pretty closely. We believe in our unlikely grab-bag team: the unproven kid and the "washed up" veteran; the Freak and the Panda and the whole roster of likable guys who don't grab the spotlight, but who get the job done. It's personal. We'll tune in because we love to see nice guys win. And we're pretty sure they play better when we're listening.