Play ball!

Thoughts on Barry Bonds and Newt Gingrich as I head out to my favorite spring ritual, baseball's Opening Day.

Published April 3, 2007 5:53PM (EDT)

It will be kind of quiet on the blog this afternoon because even though I could bring my laptop to San Francisco's AT&T Park, I'd rather die than do so. This is the year, the first year since 2002, I'm determined to fall back in love with baseball. In my interview with Anne Lamott about her book "Grace (Eventually)," I mentioned my love of the San Francisco Giants, but I didn't talk about what I would like to be the role of grace in my relationship with the team this year. This will be the year, I hope, that I forgive Peter Magowan for firing Dusty Baker; may this also be the year that I give up defending Barry Bonds by pointing to the racism I've seen behind some of the criticism he faces.

I will only defend Bonds because I see the good in him, the way someone else might glimpse Jesus in a tortilla, and I won't care if I'm the only one who sees it. I promise not to get overwrought on this topic -- this is baseball, not the Iraq war, after all -- and to simply be grateful for the joy Bonds and the Giants have brought to my life for the last 14 years. Bonds is almost 43; we've grown old(er) together. I'll root for and treasure his last season, pretty much no matter what anyone flings at him now. (If Mark Sweeney can forgive him for alleged allegations about amphetamines in his locker, who am I to sulk?)

Plus, I'm still a fan of general manager Brian Sabean, who could also be in his last year here. If Sabean's going to continue his policy of mainly signing old guys -- King Kaufman once asked me if the G.M. understood he was signing up baseball players, not presidential candidates, and suggested I tell him they don't all have to be over 35 -- I'm just going to be happy he's bringing back old Giants like Rich Aurilia and Russ Ortiz. Besides, any team can win the N.L. West; why not my team? Don't answer till, like, July, OK?

I would also like more grace to deal with hypocritical blowhards like Newt Gingrich. I leave for the game wondering if I was intemperate last night on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," after producers played footage of Newt saying a "San Francisco liberal" like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shouldn't be visiting Syria. I got off a line I'd actually decided before the show not to use: I said I didn't think "San Francisco liberals" such as Pelosi or myself should be lectured by the likes of a "serial adulterer from Georgia" such as Gingrich. Scarborough and Pat Buchanan got rather agitated, but I think it was fair: I'm proud to be a San Francisco liberal, embracing San Francisco values -- tolerance, social justice, diversity, environmentalism -- but people like Gingrich use the term as code for gay rights, gay marriage (which I also support and defend, but the complexities of the argument don't always make good sound bites) and other supposed left-coast lifestyle extremes. So I think Gingrich's serial adultery should prohibit him from using loaded moral shorthand with his conservative base -- but I don't think Scarborough agreed. I know some of my readers are ambivalent about my doing the show; you might get your wish, but I'm hoping I get to go back!

By Joan Walsh

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