I thought we would make it through nine innings without my friend Schwillhouse engaging in verbal combat with a baseball Luddite sitting in our section.
In the bottom of the eighth, San Francisco Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco hit a weak grounder to second and nearly beat it out when he was called out on a bang-bang play at first. People booed, as home crowds will in these situations. The replay showed that the ball entered the first baseman's glove at the exact same time Blanco's foot hit the bag. The ump made the call, not seeming to care that he might upset the 40,000 strong inside AT&T Park.
I could feel tension begin to boil in Schwillhouse, who by this time was well in his cups, or perhaps more accurately, well within his kegs.
"Uh oh," I thought. "I know some idiot is going to say it. It's coming, coming, coming "…"
Schwillhouse turned to scan the immediate area, looking for obvious signs of ignorance on the faces of those around us. He looked like one of the Hell's Angels at that Rolling Stones show at Altamont — ready to pounce on some weak fool and stab him to death.
And then, from about three rows back, a whiny, boozy voice rang out in the wilderness.
"He was safe," it said. "Tie goes to the runner!"
My other friend, Smells Like a K, and I shifted around to get a better look at the theater ready to unfold before us. Oh yeah, it was on.
"There is no such thing as 'tie goes to the runner,' " Schwillhouse said. "Point to the rule in the manual that says TIE GOES TO THE FREAKING RUNNER."
This went on for a few minutes before the Luddite fell back into his seat, properly chastised.
Of course, Schwillhouse is correct. There is no such rule. And despite the epic amounts of beer Schwillhouse can schwill on a given day, he does know the Major League rule book front to back. I've seen the dude quote by-laws, subsections and footnotes from the manual off the top of his head. I have noted them on bar napkins, fact-checking them later in the hopes of catching him in error. He is always right.
It is common knowledge in these pages that I'm a life-long Chicago Cubs fan and always will be.
I've come to accept the fact that I probably won't taste the cool, sweet waters of the World Series mountaintop. Giants fans know the taste, and it seems to have imbued them with eternal youth and an almost childish optimism of the future.
We saw a couple of games in the Bay this past weekend. As always, it was an amazing baseball experience.
A note to San Fran baseballs fans: You are blessed with one of the best sports parks in the world. If you haven't been to AT&T Park, you really need to make the trip down there. Even if you're not a baseball fan, that monument is well worth the somewhat steep price of admission. You don't even have to watch the game to have a good time. It's like a tasteful carnival inside, with good food (at a reasonable price compared to some ballparks I've visited; a foot-long dog runs $6 and a gourmet burger with garlic fries goes for $12 at a booth behind left field; it's not uncommon to find those prices in Ashland) and Giants fans are knowledgeable — except for the occasional boozy Luddite who always seems to find a seat near my friends and me — and the weather is tolerable. Bring a blanket, even in July.
I've been making trips down there for three years and always find something new to explore inside AT&T.
Last weekend's series saw the lowly, lowly Houston Astros come to town, take their beating and get sent home to their swampy east Texas wasteland. Good God, what happened to that team?
The Giants, themselves, are much more fun to watch these days. A few years back, you bought tickets hoping to catch one of their ace pitchers in action, because you weren't going to see a lot of balls smacked around in the post-Barry Bonds era.
I enjoy good pitching as much as the next baseball nerd, but a bit of offense is a pleasant counterbalance. This time around, I noticed that the Giants could put wood on the ball with the best of them. And they have an explosive catcher named Buster Posey. Buster? If there ever was a perfect baseball player name, I certainly can't think of it.
But each time I make the trip to the Bay to sit among a satisfied, hopeful Giants army, I can't help but feel a twinge of jealously and, at times, black resentment.
When I see Giants fans wearing T-shirts saying "The torture is over!" in reference to their 50-some years between World Series titles, I grit my teeth and suppress the desire to suddenly go Schillhouse on them.
The Cubs are closing in, and surely will eclipse, 110 years without a World Series. So it goes. I surely don't want to make Mitt Romney angry, so I won't hate the Giants because of their success. But torture? I'm not sure.
My best friend back home in Illinois called my late one night last year. He was panicky and might have been a little drunk, but he was dead serious. He had just introduced his young son to Cubs baseball and the lad accepted them as his team.
"Chris, tell me something," my friend said, the fear palpable in his voice. "Am I a horrible father?"
I had no answer.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.