CBSNews.com producer Alex Sundby took emergency leave from work in New York to make it to Games 1 and 2 of the World Series in San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO -- With all due respect to Josh Hamilton, center field at AT&T Park doesn't smell like marijuana.
After the San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night, Texas' center fielder told the New York Post that he "could smell weed in the outfield" coming from the bleachers.
"It was crazy," Hamilton, who's battled drugs and alcohol, told the tabloid. "I was looking at the cops a couple of times during the game."
The tidbit made for sports talk radio found its way into the airwaves even here in the home of Haight-Ashbury, but to me the anecdote has more truthiness to it than truth. After all, I was in the outfield Thursday before the Giants blanked the Rangers in Game 2. I didn't smell that sweet scent, and I was there after 4:20.
On Monday, after the Giants won the National League championship, San Francisco's front office sent its season-ticket holders an e-mail offering them a "once-in-a-lifetime chance" to participate in the ceremonies before Games 1 and 2. My parents have been buying season tickets since the new ballpark opened in 2000. They were able to secure my brother and I spots holding a giant U.S. flag in the outfield during the national anthem Thursday evening.
It was an honor to carry an oversized version of Old Glory cut in the shape of the continental United States. Doing it while surrounded by a paid attendance crowd of 43,622 cheering fans can only be described as thrilling. Of course, this volunteer job had its share of perks. Fortunately, I was in a position to cheer on Giants Edgar Renteria, Cody Ross and Juan Uribe as they ran some sprints from the third base line before the starting lineups were announced.
Seeing the three Giants head toward the 100 or so of us carrying the rolled-up flag on the neatly trimmed grass was surreal. At first I thought calling out Uribe's name might disrupt his pre-game concentration. None of my fellow flag-bearers felt like hesitating. Hearing their cheers, Uribe just half-chuckled, turned around and ran back to the foul line. Ross greeted us like I suppose any waiver pickup who went on to win the National League Championship Series MVP award would: with a double thumbs-up and a big smile. Renteria was calm, almost as if he could already see that pitch he would launch into the left field bleachers in the 5th inning.
Although the trio bats in the bottom half of the lineup, it jumpstarted San Francisco's offense. Renteria's solo home run scored what turned out to be the only run the Giants would need. Two innings later, Uribe batted in Ross, who got on base with a double. Then the floodgates opened as the Giants batted around the lineup in the 8th to put seven more runs on the scoreboard for the 9-0 win.
So maybe I was too starstruck before the game to notice the smell of some hippie lettuce coming from the bleachers, but I doubt it.
Of course, Mary Jane getting a ticket to the World Series isn't exactly out of the realm of possibility. To be sure, a friend who went to the Giants game on Jerry Garcia Tribute Night in August told me that there was "a cloud over the park" during the game. On Thursday, before carrying the flag to the field, I saw a group of twentysomethings wearing campaign stickers in support of Proposition 19, the ballot initiative that would and allow it to be taxed and regulated if enough voters approve it Tuesday. (The campaign's slogan is "Yes We Cannabis".)
With the Rangers down 2-0 as the series heads to Texas, they're probably eager to leave more than the smells of San Francisco behind even while hoping to return to the City by the Bay for a possible Game 6.
(It should be noted that Hamilton was not the only one from Texas who claimed he caught a whiff of pot at AT&T Park. While doing a live on-air report, Dallas sports reporter Newy Scruggs noted with much alarm that right near him was a group of people "smoking weed!" )