How to win the World Series of Life

On Saturday night, October 23, 2010, the San Francisco Giants won the pennant. It’s been one of the huge high points in this curious year of my life.

I was at the home of my Chosen Family, enjoying a hearty meal and a few beers, watching the action on the big HD screen in their living room. Our mood was positive, with a splash of anxiety. The game had ebbs and flows; Philadelphia took an early 2-0 lead, knocking out Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez after 2 1/3 innings.

We knew this was not going to be an atypical Giants game. Team announcer Duane Kuiper earlier in the season had coined a phrase that entered the lexicon of fans and the press- “It’s Torture Inside”, a variation of the team marketing slogan “It’s Magic Inside”.

Saturday night was no different.

This team doesn’t blow its opponents away; they eek out victories by the slimmest of margins. They possess one of the best pitching staffs in the history of the franchise, but have no marquee superstar position players. They have a rookie catcher and a cast of cast-offs and orphans that were shunned by their former teams, finding a welcoming home in San Francisco. The starting lineup for game one of the World Series this week will look nothing like the lineup card on opening day. Manager Bruce Bochy spent the entire season (and postseason) cobbling together a lineup, trying any number of variations to create the best matchups.

The Giants needed a win against San Diego in game 162, the final game of the regular season just to qualify for the playoffs. Nothing has come easy for this squad.

Now that the team has vanquished the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, the national press has developed a bit of a crush on this ragtag crew. They are enamored with the narrative of the blue-collar guys, the orphans, climbing the ladder of the postseason to reach The Big Show.

I admit I (and many other non believers) didn’t think the Giants could accomplish this tremendous feat. Entering the final month of the season there was little evidence this motley crew could make it to the finish line. In late September I posted on Facebook something like “The Giants are done, time to concentrate on football…”

It feels so good to be so wrong.

I feel sorry for you if you’re not a baseball fan, because you are missing out on a fantastic series of life lessons.

The Giants have proven they are completely capable of winning the national championship, doing it in the unconventional, torturous way they do it. They have qualified for the World Series because they never gave up…hope.

President Obama’s message in the campaign of 2008 galvanized a nation and launched him to the presidency. Young people bought in and showed up to vote. Obama’s opponent, Arizona senator John McCain, was defeated long before election night. McCain was certainly qualified for the job, but his words fell on deaf ears, drowned in the din of Obama’s evangelical oratory, his call to America to believe we can be a different kind of nation, a true United States of America.

Fast forward to October 2010: a recession lingers, millions are jobless, and we just finished witnessing the largest transfer of wealth (to the rich) in the history of the human race. Corporate robber barons, banks and mortgage lenders have completed their seizure of our assets, reaching directly into our pockets like a street thug and acquiring untold billions of dollars of this nation’s treasure. As of this writing only one big shot, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial, has been called to account for crimes against the nation. The thieves almost universally got away with it.

We had a chance to make our nation better earlier this year. The Democrats in Congress failed to deliver on any number of agenda items. We could have picked better Democrats in the primaries; we instead chose the same tired, old incumbents. In a week or so, they will be losing election races to Republicans, a group of people who cling to their delusion that they are the party of fiscal restraint. They prattle on and on about being the party of smaller government, common-sense approaches to health care, financial sector reform and the celebration of the individual. If they were sincere, I’d actually be intrigued.

Our politicians on both sides of the aisle use rhetoric that is the polar opposite of their actions. They attack the rights of individuals, they gleefully assist corporate criminals to transfer wealth to the richest 1% among us, they plunder our treasury, they wage senseless war, they outsource our careers to younger, cheaper nations.

We’re a nation running mighty low on hope.

Barack Obama is in real danger of being a one term President. This is a source of joy to many – the cynical, the hateful and the ignorant, and it saddens me . I know he has failed to communicate effectively to us, mired in this morass of economic bad news, but he is shouldering the blame for actions and circumstances he largely had no part in creating. If you are a smart Republican, you agree with me- the administration’s attempts to fix the problems are certainly legitimate fodder for critical analysis, but this slog started many years ago and the solutions remain elusive.

A successful baseball team is a collection of unique people with a common goal: to win.

My prayer for our troubled nation on this Monday morning in October is for us to find a common goal, to demand our best collective efforts to solve our challenges, to hate a little less and love a little more, to be reasonable…and to win.

Being a citizen requires paying attention more than 10 minutes every 2 years. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

We can do it. I believe in me, and I believe in you.

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