This morning, I slept through California's most powerful earthquake in four decades, though a hotel housekeeper later woke me while taking her new eight-cylinder riding Hoover for a test drive in the hallway outside my room.
A Channel 4 newsman says of the quake that struck Southern California at 4:58 a.m., leaving a 7.4 on the Richter scale, "Once again, Californians are being told to prepare for the Big One." William Randolph Hearst's sometimes sensationalist San Francisco Examiner reports that at the Anaheim Marriott, where I will be staying later during this trip, a woman was suddenly "pitched from her bed."
I also have a reservation at the San Diego Marriott, where the Giants were sleeping when the quake hit. Pitcher Francisco Oliveras woke to plaster falling on his face. Third baseman Matt Williams and catcher Kirt Manwaring checked out of the hotel. "I didn't like the sound the building was making," pitcher Bryan Hickerson tells the Examiner. "Too much popping and snapping." Popping and snapping? Take a baseball tour of most states, and those are the sounds of fastballs and catchers' mitts.
Because downtown San Francisco, where I am staying, is hosting 20,000 convention-going librarians, and 400,000 parading gays and lesbians (and a statistically inevitable number of overlapping lesbian librarians), it takes forever to get through traffic and across the Bay Bridge to the Oakland Coliseum for the A's-Minnesota Twins matinee.
In fact, we will spend so much time in transit this week that I will be able to fill out a solid lineup card of license plates when the trip is over, including the likes of PWR HTR, I TRN 2, STRIK 3. To whom would I hand this lineup card? To the guy with the plates that read 3x YROUT. Who am I? I'm a native of Minnesota, a TWIN FAN, you could say, though I enjoy an occasional DOGR DOG when I'm in my guise as a SPTWRTR. These are actual California plates. I will see them all on this trip.
The Coliseum turns out to be the least rich of our five venues. Aside from partaking of the state's finest tailgating, and watching the Twins hang an ungodly 10-spot on the scoreboard in the fourth inning, and having my Polaroid picture taken with a cardboard cutout of Jose Canseco, and dropping bogus missives into the Fan Feedback Boxes—feedback, man; is that California, or what?—and invading the carnival-like Family Entertainment Center, where fans are screening a pre-Olympic basketball game on TV...besides that, there isn't anything to do here. Nothing to do but watch baseball, I mean.
So the crowd is dust by the seventh-inning stretch. (That's right: They stretch in the seventh inning here. Interesting.) In the sixth the Coliseum bleachers are full and the nearby BART train-station platform is empty. Then suddenly, in the seventh, the bleachers are empty and the platform is full. It happens that quickly.
Monday, June 29, San Francisco
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. So imagine what today, a rainy Monday, is doing to me. We arrive at Candlestick at 4 p.m. for the Giants' 6:35 p.m. tilt with the Atlanta Braves, only to learn that the game has already been called. It is the Giants' first June rainout in 20 years.