I (Ken) went to San Diego this week. Thursday evening, I went to a game at Petco Park. I’ll assemble my thoughts on Petco later, but here’s a quick story:
I was wandering along the main concourse at Petco, when I realized I was walking shoulder-to-shoulder with someone. I turned to look at the guy, and I recognized him.
I searched my brain for a name to match the face, but I drew a blank. Where did I know him from? School? Work? TV?
Nothing. I couldn’t think of a name, or where I had seen this man before. He turned to look at me, and we made eye contact.
If I hadn’t recognized him, I could have just smiled or nodded and moved on. But what if it was an old friend or something? I didn’t want to be rude. I had to say something. So I entered into chit-chat mode.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” said the man.
I recalled once running into Paul Molitor this same way, walking along a concourse. Is this guy an ex-player? A scout? A GM? Maybe he works for the Padres, I thought. I decided to say something about Petco.
“Nice ballpark,” I said.
“It is a nice ballpark,” he agreed.
Then he turned to enter his seating section, and we parted. An instant later, the name came to me: Frank McCourt.
I had just been chatting with the owner of the Dodgers, and the only thing I managed to say to him was how nice the Padres’ home ballpark is. D’oh!
I’ve been suffering from a major case of l’esprit d’escalier ever since. If you have the chance to say one sentence to Frank McCourt, what should you say?