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The Battle That Wasn't: Baseball Shuts Out Politics on Local Screens

With two "finals" competing for locals' attention -- in politics and baseball -- it was really no contest: Giants 9, Cardinals 0.

The morning dawned with rain, and though it held off much of the day as the two big events came ever closer, late in the afternoon the rain fell again.

Five o'clock found full bars at both the Healdsburg Bar and Grill and Bear Republic Brewery,  with Giants fans dressed in black and orange -- prescient of Halloween -- settled in for a long night of beer and baseball.

Outside, the rain pelted downtown Healdsburg, and locals and tourists alike scurried for the narest warm place. A rainbow appeared over the Plaza, brief reward for the drenching squall.

With the third and last Presidential Debate set for 6:00 p.m., the expected dilemma between politics and sports looked like mismatch.

"We're going to ask them turn the channel at six," said Steve Howard, at the HBG bar with his wife.

"We're being totally sarcastic," Tricia Dippel clarified.

At the Bear, the bar deck was packed, the screens simulcasting the first inning. But the mood was relaxed, presumably because it was only a game.

At the Raven Theater, however, 6 p.m. saw a semi-serious if modest crowd show up for the big screen telecast of the Presidential debate.

"We had about 60 for the first debate," said manager Chris Phipps. Nothing like that was in the cards for tonight.

When the ABC News feed with the two nominees and newscaster Bob Schaeffer came on, the 14 people in the audience settled in for the 90-minute debate. (Two more came shortly after).

The projection system at the Raven carried a jerky, intermittent feed, and at times Mitt Romney looked eerily like Max Headroom, from the short-lived 1990s TV series. But the audience was respectful, quiet, good students of public policy all.

At Bergamot Alley, around the corner on Healdsburg Avenue, an equal number of people were lined against the wall on tables, wine or beer in front of them.

This group -- a happy medium between the beery bunch at the bars -- was more demonstrative, chortling or snorting as the spirit moved them, breaking into open applause at the "horses and bayonets" line.

Meanwhile, the MLB app carried an increasingly unbelievable but welcome series of updates from AT&T Park: 2-0. Then 5-0. And before the debate ended, it was 7-0.

With the final statements, I returned to the Raven to gauge the reaction to the final debate, from an audience that had seemed the most thoughful in town this rainy night.

"Who won?" I asked as I walked up, hoping for a cogent review of the back-and-forth between the two primary party candidates.

"The Giants."

That, at least was looking like a certainly.

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