Hawaii is well-known for a lot of things: Paradise. Beautiful Beaches. Luaus. Hotels. Waikiki. Tiny Bubbles. Rainbows (the Drive In, the real thing, and the Warriors). Vacation? It's strongest trait though, is probably not what you'd expect.
Lets preface this. I watch a lot of reality TV. A LOT. If it's on primetime and it involves some kind of talent outside of the words "real" and "housewife", I'm probably in. So it was fairly early on that I noticed something pretty incredible. Hawaii as a... viewing body, is good at supporting the locals on these shows. Really good. Savant good.
It began, for me at least, with Jasmine Trias. She was my age and really, my first connection to a non-athlete beyond the confines of the state. When she made it to the live shows of American Idol, Season 3, WE made it to the live shows of American Idol, Season 3. And so, buoyed on the strength of one or two above-average performances, and the relentless loyalty of her home state, Trias made it to the top three (finishing behind eventual winner Fantasia Barrino and runner-up Diana DeGarmo). Don't believe in the power yet? That season Jennifer Hudson finished seventh. SEVENTH!!
This continued for years. And across all genres. Mark Kanemura on So You Think You Can Dance. Cara Horibe on America's Best Dance Crew (as a member of Fanny Pack) and then, on a later season, Hype 5-0 (as an all-Hawaii crew). Camille Velasco on Jasmine's season of Idol (and Jordan Segundo before both of them). DeAndre Brackensick (Idol). Duncan Kamakana (The Voice). Ciana Pelekai (X-Factor). Andy South (Project Runway). Aloha Plate (Food Network). Hell, even the frecking President of the United States (winner of the ultimate reality drama two terms in a row). I'm sure I'm forgetting people, but you get the idea. If anyone from Hawaii is on TV, for pretty much any reason, people here will tune in and "support" to the extent that they can. That is the Hawaii Way.
Which brings us to Kolten Wong, the Cardinals rookie (and HIlo native) thrust suddenly into national prominence during the World Series. He has, in a very VERY short period of time, experienced the highs and lows of the championship athletics, going from web-gemming, defensive specialist on Saturday to sloppy, game-ending baserunner on Sunday. And truly, its been a ride for us all.
I want tho tell everyone thank you for the support.
— Kolten Wong (@KoltenWong) October 28, 2013
I should preface this by admitting that I know very little about baseball and the intricacies of the game (save for a few horrifically embarrassing years of little league when I was ten.) My perspective here then is less analyst and more... "Hawaii-homer." That is, everything comes from a place where I care only that Kolten does well individually and discard as irrelevant whether or not his team wins. And so again, as fun as Saturday was, boy was Sunday rough.
I think I've watched this video 100 times already, trying to figure out both how he got caught and also how I could possibly rationalize it so that this wasn't his fault. And I can do neither. Talking to reporter Jerry Crasnick after the game, Wong was quoted as saying: "I knew I was dead once I went to plant and push off and I felt nothing go. My foot slipped out and I was done.''
And so, I guess, in the end it was as simple as that. Had Uehara simply thrown the pitch, or Allen Craig been able to run at all, maybe this narrative doesn't exist. Or maybe Kolten steals second successfully like he did on Saturday, or Carlos Beltran (standing at the plate) drives him home. Maybe Craig could have been healthy enough to not need a pinch runner, but also not healthy enough to take a comfortable lead off the bag and Uehara never looks for the pick play in the first place. Maybe?
The silver lining in all this though, was that Hawaii's support didn't let Kolten down. Not even for a second. After the game, there was an overwhelming amount of positivity and well-wishes coming from the islands, even as Wong remained inconsolable and near-tears.
— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) October 28, 2013
— Mike Cherry (@MikeCherry808) October 28, 2013
World Series, so awesome that two "local boys" can represent the 808 with class. Go Kolten Wong and Shane Victorino. #BigLeagueBruddahs
— Robert Kekaula (@RKekaula) October 27, 2013
@KoltenWong keep.working hard and live for tomorrow Aloha
— michael wong (@orientalhawn) October 28, 2013
And, amazingly enough, this didn't stop at just the locals. Fans of the game in general felt for him and expressed as much:
— Jon Hartig (@JHartMT) October 28, 2013
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) October 28, 2013
— Eliza Dushku (@elizadushku) October 28, 2013
I'd still take Kolten Wong on the Royals in a heartbeat.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) October 28, 2013
@KoltenWong don't worry about it kolten cardinal nation has got your back. Keep your head up
— Jonathan davis (@therealjondavis) October 28, 2013
— BrainSnag (@BrainSnag) October 28, 2013
— John Rabe (@johnrabe) October 28, 2013
.@KoltenWong's last two tweets. Stand-up guy.
— Matthew T. Hall (@SDuncovered) October 28, 2013
I could go on and on (there were literally hundreds more), but really, what I was most glad to see was that in a time when so many people find it easy/funny/entertaining to virtually kick someone when they're down (like last week when Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman reportedly got death threats for fumbling the ball at the goal line against the Colts), the majority here took the opposite approach. Sports is, after all, as much about persevering through the failure as it is winning the game. And even if the result in Game 4 wasn't what we'd hoped for, I can guarantee that everyone here will do their best to unconditionally support him moving forward. It is, after all, the Hawaii Way.