I thought we could all use a feel-good story right about now, and I've got one for you. It's Saturday night and to the dismay of several eager sheep I'm actually busy for the evening, invited by LongTimeFan to join her at the Coliseum for game 2 of the A's-Giants series. As we walk towards the turnstile, a group of 8-10 preteen boys, along a chaperoning mom, is heading towards the same turnstile, acting excited, ebullient, enthusiastic--basically all the words that start with "e" and are associated with boyish energy.
They are A's fans and they make this known with their loud and persistent chant. "GIANTS SUCK! GIANTS SUCK!" Preteen boys don't really get tired of shouting the same thing over and over, so this could go on a while. Some fans are enjoying it, even encouraging it, while some seem unaware amidst the competing chaos, and there's one fogey (me) who turns to the other (LongTimeFan) and says, "You know, the schoolmarm in me just doesn't like hearing kids yelling `Giants suck!'" Even in the anything-goes context of the ballpark, I don't like to hear children shouting disparaging phrases towards adults; to put it in its most technical terms, it just feels a bit icky.
LongTimeFan feels the same way but she isn't just going to tell me. She replies by turning and walking towards the kids. "Hey guys," she says in a friendly but authoritative tone. I can't hear the exact words which follow but she is asking (which, coming from an adult, will feel to them like telling) that they lose the "Giants suck!" routine because it's not respectful.
Uh-oh. All bets are off regarding how a group of preteen boys will respond to the admonitions of a stranger. The most common reactions are the two extremes: either "Who the hell are you to tell us what to say, lady? If you don't like it, you can..." or "She said we have to stop!" Which were we going to get, defiance or compliance?
The boys look at each other, trying to find, in each other's faces, the answer for what to do or say--because none of them is stepping forward to speak for the pack and neither is the mom. Time stands still for several moments, while the boys think. And then, like it were a choreographed scene, all the boys spontaneously respond in the exact same way, at the exact same time--as if each one had simultaneously realized there was only one possible answer:
"LET'S GO, OAK-LAND! (bum pum, bum pum pum) LET'S GO, OAK-LAND!..." LongTimeFan and I walk behind them, clapping along with them to show support for their good spirit and positive attitude. The boys are excited, ebullient, and enthusiastic, Danny Haren is getting loose in the bullpen, and it's going to be a good day.
The Colby Lewis era begins at 5:11PDT. See you then.