Oct. 20, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- The scene on the field before a typical baseball game is fairly serene. A good 80 percent of the people milling about are uniformed employees one of the two teams involved, and theres an odd-but-comfortable rhythm controlling the general vibe.A bat cracks in the cage, another cracks moments later as a coach bounces early work an infielders way. A ball snaps into leather. Encouragement and insults casually collide on their way to various points across the stretched-out greenery.Those not in uniform? The writers, talkers, the civilian club employees? Backdrop. Mobile, hardly audible scenery.The same scene before a playoff game is anything but serene. Everything seems flipped.The uniformed men are no longer that stars of the show. The non-verbal soundtrack is similar, but the players and coaches arent nearly as vocal, their volume knobs turned down by the increased pressure and tightened focus on whats at hand.Giants infielder Juan Uribe, for instance, hasnt met a word -- in any language -- that he wont happily and repeatedly boom andor butcher before most games, but before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park on Wednesday, his playful demeanor and perma-smile were replaced by a seriousness conveyed by a half-grimace that seemed forced and a little bit painful.Hes part of the backdrop now, and the stars -- or so many of them think -- are the others.Sportswriters who wore polos all season are rocking coats and ties. The number of cameras and Ken dolls on the field are multiplied by 20. Many, many people are there to be seen, and if they arent seen, theyll at least take solace and strange pride in having been there.In short, its not very baseball-y. Exciting and new, sure. But better? No.Not until the game starts.