NOW THEN, where were we . . .
When last seen, the 1989 World Series was left stranded in Candlestick Park, huddled under the nearest doorways. Al Michaels, on ABC, was stuck in mid-sentence, "We're having an earth . . ."That was 10 days and seven point one on the Richter Scale ago. It amounts to the longest delay ever in a World Series. But as the mood shifts, however sensitively, back to Candlestick Park tonight, there are signs that the Bay Area is back on its feet and ready to get serious again about something that isn't. Namely, baseball.
For one thing, they're taking tolls again on the Golden Gate and other area bridges - something that was suspended after the quake; for another thing, they've already come up with post-quake nicknames for the park (How about "Wiggly Field?") and the city (right here in Quiver City).
And if that isn't enough to signal something of a return to normalcy, and maybe even levity, there's this: The World Series motto has been changed.
It is no longer "The Battle By The Bay," but rather, "The Battle For The Bay."
Donation boxes to aid earthquake victims will be set up all around the stadium tonight. After a one-minute moment of silence at 5:04 p.m. - the same time the earthquake hit on Oct. 17 - major league baseball will announce its own donation of $1.04 million to the earthquake effort ($40,000 per franchise), and the American Red Cross will announce its $7 million donation, coming from all parts of the world (more than $60,000 of which was raised at last week's BYU-UTEP game). Then the crowd will sing "San Francisco."
An unusual pre-game show, to be sure. But, then, this has been an unusual World Series. Much of the past 10 days has been sparked by debate whether it should be continued at all. As if suspending the Series - with the Oakland A's leading the San Francisco Giants two games to none - would somehow change anything.
No other area sporting events, including the Stanford and Cal football games, and the 49ers game, were canceled. Now, neither will the first-ever all-Bay Area World Series be earthquaked-out. Just put on discretionary hold.
A poll undertaken by the San Francisco Examiner indicates that the public is in favor of the games going on. Of 1,536 respondents, 1,201 said Yes, they Bay Area World Series should continue, while 335 said No, it shouldn't.
An even greater percentage of those holding tickets for remaining Series games apparently are in favor of a resumption. Only 81 people returned tickets to the Oakland A's office, and about half that many returned tickets to the San Francisco Giants ticket office.
No question, a sellout crowd of 62,000 will be in Candlestick Park tonight, seeing if Game 3 can get it right. And the nationwide TV audience should be record-setting, at least for the start. Maybe the odds of another earthquake hitting at game time are about the same as Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson playing in the game, but that doesn't mean this one hasn't gotten a lot of people's attention.
The two teams, the Giants and A's, have spent the past 10 days carefully avoiding the usual center-of-the-universe status to which they're accustomed. "It's only a game" and "It's not the same now" have been the catch-phrases. Still, that didn't stop the A's from spending $25,000 to hie off to Phoenix when it looked like rain might shorten their workouts in Oakland.
Nor did it stop the Giants from trying to turn the psychological tables in their direction. Manager Roger Craig suggested that it's been to his team's advantage to have spent the last week and a half practicing in Candlestick Park, while the A's haven't been back since the earth shook. For them, Craig suggests it will be like returning to the House of Usher.
"They've gotta be thinking about it," said Craig. "It's got to be on their minds."
Scott Garrelts, the Giants starter on the mound tonight, said, "I've never played at the end of October before. That's why it's interesting. Nobody knows what's right."
Well, other than it's right to finish what you've started.
It will be to baseball's good credit that, despite all the travails of the '89 season, it went ahead and concluded its affairs in the customary way, with the full run of its unaptly named "World" Series.
For awhile there, spurred by a totally unrelated tragedy, a lot of people, by mandating that the Series be canceled, suggested, however inadvertantly, that baseball is bigger than life.
Tonight's fresh attempt at starting, and finishing, Game 3 suggests that it isn't; but, rather, that fun and games should resume in due time, as surely as bridge tolls.
The 1989 World Series will go on as rescheduled, earthquake willing, and no doubt with the proper respect for what happened last time. As a caller to the Giants' radio station, KNBR, suggested Thursday night, "Let's show up and let's cheer - but, please, let's not do the wave."