Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Last Miracle

     In 2012 there is the disillusionment which comes in the beginning of every century as old ideas fight to hold power over a world where they no longer fit. As a result everything is questioned, and everything seems to lack relevance in the current time. Religion is one of those ideas undergoing review, and with the internet the social inbreeding on every issue has become compounded making almost every issue outrageously polarized to a point beyond reasonable discussion.

So I know almost nobody will read this, and half of those who do will spaz-out reflexively.

     The universe as established operates under a strict set of rules. They cannot be broken, even by a supreme being, as everything would spin out of control. I pondered this for a long time during my spiritual quest. How could God just intervene in a situation without screwing up the flow of time & space? My answer for a long time was God could not just step in like Superman to save the day.

     On October 17, 1989 the earth moved under a mountain named Loma Prieta  east of Santa Cruz, California. This caused an earthquake which measured 6.9 or 7.0 (depending on who you ask). It killed a couple hundred people, most of those in Oakland, California, when the Nimitz Freeway’s Cypress Structure collapsed. It shook the fuck out of my house, and I have PTSD related to the event.

     At the time the local media marveled at the low casualty count. The San Francisco Chronicle’s 10/18/1989 edition’s headline screamed thousands feared dead. Yet once the concrete road-beds were lifted few cars were found underneath. There was no real mystery as to why. The Oakland Athletics (A’s), and the San Francisco Giants were playing each other in the World Series making for the biggest week of parties since the end of World War II. Businesses let employees off work early so they could get home, or wherever they were going to watch the game. So those who would have been on the Nimitz freeway at 5:04pm were already in front of a TV when the quake struck. Families which normally had varying activities were all together, and people who were normally alone were with friends.

It was almost the perfect time for an earthquake.

     Sometime in the mid-1990s as I worked to resolve my spirituality with my rational world view these facts came back to me on one of the anniversaries of the temblor. KGO ABC7 in San Francisco had one of the best documentaries about the quake, and the one word repeated throughout was “Miracle”, and I began to wonder if a miracle had in fact been in play on that October day. The question became where would I find evidence of a miracle if there was one? 

  The answer quickly came to me: Baseball.

     Remember, I said the universe is governed by laws which cannot be broken. God is looking at earth’s schedule where the earthquake is looming. How can God save thousands of people without revealing his existence, and how can God save people without breaking important laws of physics? It dawned on me there was one place he could intervene which would set events into motion which would save a lot of people, and this place was Candlestick Park. Candlestick Park was home to the Giants, and notorious for unpredictable winds.

Baseball would be the key to saving lives. Knowledge of baseball would reveal the truth.

     The 1989 Chicago Cubs were the best team in baseball that year. Ask anybody. They had a batting  average of .261; first in the league, an on-base-percentage of .319 which was second in the league, and a pitching staff which had an ERA of 3.43. The 1989 Cubs featured Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson, and Rick Sutcliffe. These men were some of the best to ever play the game, and 1989 was their best year as a team.

     They faced off against the SF Giants. The Giants were a good team, but essentially backed into the playoffs that year. They played in a weak division, within the National League which was not as stellar as the American League at the time. The Giants crushed the Cubs in the first NLCS game 11 to 3, but the Cubs returned the favor in the next game with a score of 9 to 5. The series moved to San Francisco where the Giants won the third game 6 to 4 mostly with clutch pitching in the late innings. So it all came down to the 5th game. If the Cubs win they return home to play the 6th game in Chicago.

     So on Monday, October 9th, 1989, the Cubs went to work. They held the Giants scoreless until the seventh inning. Will Clark gets a triple, and then Kevin Mitchell hits a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield to score Clark. This ties the game at 1 to 1. In the eighth inning when the Giants come to the plate the first batter, Ken Oberkfell, flies-out to the left field line. Next Jose Uribe strikes out swinging. Chicago is in control. All they need is one more out to close the inning. This is where the game seems to fall apart for the Cubs. Candy Maldonado, Brett Butler, and Robbie Thompson all walk loading the bases for Will Clark.

     Will Clark started playing baseball after his dog brought him a baseball, and then a glove one summer. It was as if the universe had chosen Will Clark to play baseball. Maybe only for this one game. Will Clark hits a bloop single to center field scoring Maldonado, and Butler. So with two outs Chicago loaded the bases for Will Clark who hits a single.

This is where (if you believe in this kind of this) God stepped in.

     The ball sailed just above the second baseman’s mitt, and dropped right in the dead space between him and the center fielder. A simple bloop single would make the difference between thousands of people dead, and the final Loma Prieta death toll of 63. This is a thing of beauty. In front of a crowded stadium and in front of a TV audience God hangs a baseball an extra second to score two runs which results in both Bay Area home teams facing each other in the World Series which is when the earthquake will occur. Thousands of people are off the roads as businesses close early. People are gathered together in homes, or bars to watch the game.

     The Chicago Cubs should have gone to the World Series. It was their year. They would have beat the Oakland A’s who would be later to discovered as steroid abusers. Oakland only won one World Series during the “Bash Brothers” era, and this was to the San Francisco Giants. Ask anybody who knows baseball, they’ll tell you the same thing.  The Cubs were sacrificed for to save countless lives. No big laws of the universe were bent, or broken to achieve the miracle. Twenty-two years later I’m the only one to put it all together. I understand I might be reading more into this story than there really is, but I used to love baseball so it makes me feel good to think it played a part in saving people’s lives in a way few can articulate.

So now you know.