Field of Liens

Before you succumb to nostalgia about a simpler, humbler baseball time, heed the lesson of Vacaville

"We don't like being associated with him," Curtis Stocking says of Portner. "Unfortunately, we don't have any other teams in line. There aren't a whole lot of choices."

In Vacaville, residents have pretty much wearied of Bruce Portner's version of the Minor League Myth. Stadium attendance this last year dwindled to a few hundred per game, according to fans I spoke with. (Portner denies this, and says fan interest thrives.) And though Portner is telling anyone who'll listen that he's rounded up a group of investors to finance his bigger, better baseball plans, few locals seem to believe him.

They've learned the same lesson San Francisco fans ought to have learned during the seventh inning of Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, when Giants star pitcher Felix Rodriguez's knees turned to rubber under Angels first baseman Scott Spiezio's arrogant glare and Rodriguez served up a pop-fly, three-run homer that seemed to permanently ruin the Giants' will. It's a lesson inherent in last weekend's death march, when the Giants simply quit playing baseball, though they had a game and a quarter to go.

Vacaville residents now understand, and so should we, that baseball can be a metaphor for life. But it's a horrible one.

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