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Wednesday, October 23
No better World Series spot than McCovey Cove

By Jim Caple

AFLOAT IN McCOVEY COVE, Calif. -- Barry Bonds is batting and I am in perfect position in McCovey Cove. I am sitting in the stern of a 60-foot Sea Cruiser named the "Grand Slam," with beer on my left side, a color TV on my right, a pan of lasagna within reach, the right-field wall of Pac Bell Park in front of me and the bright light of the World Series setting the foggy San Francisco sky aglow all around me.

McCovey Cove
The proximity of ballpark and water makes for a unique World Series perspective.

Come to think of it, this would be the perfect position even if Barry wasn't batting.

I was hopeful when I appealed to readers Tuesday, asking if anyone spending Game 3 in McCovey Cove would mind me joining them on the boat. Sure enough, I heard from several gracious fans, including one man who offered me the use of his surfboard and wetsuit.

That offer, I turned down.

In the end, I wound up on several boats, including a 60-foot-catamaran recently rechristened the U.S.S. Rally Monkey, where I listened to drunk Angels fans bang thunderstix and a musician play a song dedicated to Anaheim's most famous primate, a little ditty he called "Chungo Mungo."

And some people think Yankee Stadium has a rich World Series tradition.

The catamaran, it turned out, was chartered by radio station KIIS in Los Angeles, with a crew of fans and station employees rooting for the Angels. Surprisingly, some of them even rooted for the Angels before last month.

"I've suffered," said the radio personality known to Los Angeles listeners as Poor Man. "I will never forget the Dave Henderson home run in 1986. I can remember exactly where I was. I was at the Griffith Park Zoo and it's tormented me to this day. I can see why Donnie Moore killed himself."

The U.S.S. Rally Monkey, however, was the only vessel flying the Anaheim flag in McCovey Cove. Make that crowded McCovey Cove.

You know that scene in "Jaws," where they offer a big reward for the shark and the next morning the harbor is filled with people in virtually every kind of boat imaginable? That's what it was like in McCovey Cove Tuesday night. And that was two hours before game time. By the first pitch, you could practically walk across the Cove from boat to boat.

I didn't need to because I had a couple new friends helping me. One was John Earls, who provided access to the "Grand Slam," and the other was Chris Kiehn, a Nebraska native who was celebrating his one-year anniversary in San Francisco. Kiehn was rooting for the Giants but his true allegiances were elsewhere. "I was raised a Nebraska fan, raised a Vikings fan and raised a Cubs fan," he said in much the same manner one would say, "I was raised Catholic."

Kiehn introduced me to Rick Wallace, who had brought his sailboat into the Cove, and Lawrence Bekins, who piloted me around the Cove in his Boston Whaler to better see the sights.

The Cove's watercraft ranged from kayaks and rubber rafts to tall-masted sailboats and luxury yachts. A banner reading "No War For Oil" stretched between the masts of a beautiful old sailboat. In a nearby boat, a man who identified himself as Noah Tao sat in the lotus position, pounding out a beat on an Indian drum, while a recording of sarod music (similar to a sitar) played in the background.

It wasn't exactly "We Will Rock You", but hey, this is San Francisco.

"It's a little better kharma," Tao said of his music. "It puts me into a more relaxed mood so that we won't get so (ticked) off when the Giants don't score any more runs."

Boaters position themselves in a crowded McCovey Cove prior to the start of Game 3 -- perfect position for a World Series game, says Jim Caple.
Near the edge of the Cove, a couple fans balanced on a floating golf green and took turns putting while swaying more than John Daly at the 19th hole.

"They have a pretty good time with that," Edgar Blazona said from his two-man paddleboat, "but I have to say, we actually beat that boat in the Best Boat in the Bay Competition."

The Giants sponsored the contest among McCovey Cove boaters and it's easy to see why Blazona won. It's just a small paddleboat, the sort your parents would rent for a slow paddle on a small lake, but he and his friend, Brice Gamble, customized it piece by piece into the most efficient fan craft on the water. They painted it orange and black, attached bumpers to the side, a huge Giants logo to the bow, a TV to the dash and a cooler, water tank and barbecue to the stern.

The only thing that's missing is a satellite dish, but then again, they don't really need one -- the only game they're interested in is being played a few yards away and they can listen to it on the radio, the TV or check out the replays on the ballpark's video board.

Blazona says he and Gamble have paddled their boat around the Cove for dozens of games. So where would he rather be, inside the stadium or in the Cove?

"We were talking about that," he said. "The Cove is much, much better. There's no waiting in line here. Here, we can float around and have a beer and eat our sausage and listen to the game, and it's great. It's a great little community out here. There are about 15 people who come out here regularly and we know each other by name."

The Giants fell behind early and the Cove grew relatively quiet as the game slowly edged toward its inevitable conclusion. The Giants lost and Barry's only home run landed in center field instead of the water, but the Cove still was the place to be Tuesday. As Blazona said, it is a community.

There were 42,707 crowding inside Pac Bell Park for San Francisco's first World Series game in 13 years. Anchored outside was a navy of fans, drawn toward the stadium by the glow of the lights, drawn together by the glow of baseball.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at cuffscaple@hotmail.com.

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