Opinion: It’s time to move on from 9/11 memorials

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Marney Kline, Staff Writer

Bruce Bochy was a bore. It was 9/11 and I was standing in the Giants’ dugout, watching the Giants manager speak listlessly to reporters who swarmed around him like vultures as he perched in the dugout for a pre-game interrogation.

Looking into his watery, wise old eyes, which looked like they have witnessed a thousand years on planet Earth, I could not tell whether he was jaw-droppingly unenthusiastic about baseball, had overdosed on Valium, or he really just hated this part of his job. For whatever reason, he morosely answered question after question concerning baseball stats, players’ injuries, and, of course, the significance of 9/11 at this particular game.

With a comical blend of baseball-driven hysteria and emotion-starved journalistic zeal, a reporter barked stressfully at Bochy: “Bruce! Do you have a specific memory of the week, or maybe the month, after 9/11, specifically interwined – I mean, intertwined – with baseball?” Bochy replied, “Well, my sister called and told me to turn on the TV. She was working for the government and she said ‘this was not an accident.’ And then I turned on the television and saw the second plane hit, and then it hits you what’s happened – the magnitude of what’s happened. We couldn’t go anywhere, all the planes were down, you couldn’t travel; the world did stop,” he recounted in a steady monotone.

The San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers sustain a rivalry engendering at least one exclamation of “Dodgers Suck!” per inning. But today, these two baseball teams were scheduled to play ball on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and, correspondingly, scheduled by the Giants’ media relations staff, to reminisce on the bittersweet medley of grief and patriotism that was felt so keenly 10 years ago. After all, the baseball game was on a particularly gripping anniversary, and the attempt to weave it in was a noble effort.

It was about 11:30 a.m., and from the dugout I could see the players stretching themselves on the perfectly manicured baseball field, their lower halves cinched up in those uncomfortable-looking pants. The Colombian sportswriter I was talking to earlier suddenly got my attention and helpfully put me face to face with a Giants player. I phrase this in such a manner because, up close and personal, Giants players are, in fact, either vertically or horizontally gigantic, and they are famous.

“What is your name?” I asked, deliberately ignoring the sportswriter’s advice to look up his jersey or cleat number and match it with a name on the roster – perhaps a measure taken to protect the players’ sensitive egos. Hector Sanchez, age 21, resides in his native country of Venezuela, and weighs 225 pounds. I know this because I have a booklet containing all sorts of personal, now decidedly public, information on each of the players. It was especially fun to estimate their weights and then compare it to the real statistic.

When asked about how he felt about 9/11, he replied, “You know, it was sad.”

And that is exactly the way I felt: It was sad, I understood that, and so did Sanchez. I did not see the need to dwell on the tragedy or forcibly recreate the state of loud and gushy patriotism at a baseball game.

The attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and United Flight 93 were intense events, gruesome blots on our virtually spotless record of international conflict based on American soil. But something about the institutional, politically correct, and strained intermingling of baseball, the media, and the anniversary of 9/11, led to trite questions and boring answers.

Sure, it is sweet and respectful to detail how we Americans, especially important Americans like the manager of the Giants, experienced the fateful day of Sept. 11. But I am more inclined to agree with my new Colombian journalist friend and dedicated sports-blogger Luis Alberto Torres, who said, “this happened 10 years ago – I remember. But what happened yesterday is yesterday, today is today.”

What I gather from Bochy’s and every other old baseball buff’s notion of 9/11 and its significance to our community, is that the truth rarely reveals itself in a planned, public, demonstration of grief; and we won’t glimpse it in the faces we recognize from the media. Rather, it is worthwhile to seek answers from more humble roots.

When 9/11 comes around next year, we should heed the ancient Japanese saying: “let the past flow away with the water.”