The Night before Game 7

My maternal grandfather William was a brave soldier and a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Officer. He went to Cathedral High School, which stands to this day, but has a new next door neighbor: Dodger Stadium.

My paternal grandfather Edward was also a brave solider who stormed the beach at Normandy on D-Day. He was from Massachusetts, and lived for the Boston Red Sox. He was born in the spring of 1918, the last year his Sox won the World Series (he was too young to remember at age 0), and he passed away in 2000, having lived over 80 years without really seeing his Sox win it all. They did Papa the favor in 2004, less than five years later.

I loved and respected both of my grandfathers, and as I grow up and learn more and more about them from candid conversations, I love and respect them even more. However, I do not want to carry on the legacy of my father’s father, at least not by taking a grenade to the ass for the people or never celebrating my team winning the World Series.

Sometime in the late 80s: Something happened and my parents were happy. They came to pick us up at the home of Grandpa (William, LA guy) and Grandma (Barbara, LA gal). I was happy too, but not really sure what was going on.

Also in the late 80s: I got an autograph from Mike Marshall, framed with his picture and a message. I kept it around for a long time, despite not really remembering the guy.

Late 80s: I went to my first games at the stadium. I started playing T-ball, or at least playing catch in the back yard.

1990ish: I was collecting baseball cards, and I started finding the periodic Ted Williams. Not knowing they were valueless, I saved them for my grandfather Ed, because Ted was his guy. This may have been the first selfless or considerate habit I developed. When Ted Williams came up, I tucked him away for the next time I saw Papa.

Early 90s: I was definitely playing T-ball, and probably already afraid of the ball, an affliction that ended my career prematurely.

Early 90s: I started remembering the lineup and the names and positions of players; I never really cared much about jersey numbers.

Early 90s: The event about which I spoke in my co-best man speech at my brother’s wedding took place. We watched a game from the stands, and I bugged my family relentlessly by talking, prodding, and whining, I’m sure. Dad took the boys to the bathroom, came back down to Mom and said, “We have to go. Jim hit Steve.” The guy behind our seats asked, “Which one is Steve?” My dad said, “The little one.” The man said, “Good.”

Early 90s: I started planning for Halloween a month or so in advance. My number one idea was “Mikey P.” That’s Mike Piazza.

1995: I was obsessed with Hideo Nomo and his weird name, interesting look, and wild delivery. By this time I was a fanatic about a Dodger winning Rookie of the Year every year for the rest of time.

Sometime in the 1990s: Joel, Jim, and I finish throwing the ball around and come in to watch the game. Some sort of altercation occurs, and my mom threatens to turn off the game. Somehow holding the power, I stubbornly refuse to budge, and sacrifice the afternoon’s entertainment for my pride. We watch SportsCenter later and find out that immediately after the game was shut off, the Dodgers turned a rare triple play.

September, 1996: We’re going to the playoffs, but shit, I don’t want to play the Braves. All the Dodgers have to do is take one of three from the Padres, and the Dads will have to lay on the tracks as the flaming hot Atlanta club comes rolling through. Needless to say, Trevor Hoffman got the save in all three, and the Braves ran over Dodgers in a sweep. Still no playoff wins since 1988.

July 23, 1998: The Dodgers score 6 in the top of the first. My mom asks me and Sean if we want to go to Chilli’s. I think it was just the three of us. Maybe Jim was there too. My dad and Erin were camping on Catalina. Chilli’s sounded so good, and the Dodgers were stomping their opponent, so I said, “What the hell, there’s no school tomorrow,” so we turned off the game and went for beans and stuff. The Houston Astros sealed their legacy in my mind forever by scoring a run in the third, 5 in the eighth, and two in the tenth to win 8-6, after the Dodgers led 6-0 through one. I have never forgotten that, and it has always been one of my go-to examples of Dodger futility.

Summary:
Back-to-back-to-back-to-back solo home runs to tie a game in the 9th, another home run to win in the 10th. I immediately called all my best Dodger fan friends and we screamed to each other over the phone. I was watching at the bar at Linbrook Lanes in Anaheim.
I was present for the first playoff win in nearly 25 years, watching the late Jose Lima shut down one of the best lineups in ages for an almost perfect game.
I was present for Alex Cora’s 18-pitch at bat that ended with a home run.
I was present for a Russel Martin walk-off 10th-inning grand slam.
I was there with Joel (huge Braves fan) when Mark Teixeira broke up Hiroki Kuroda’s perfect game in the 8th (he shut down the next six Braves in order).

I was there when Juan Uribe brought us back to life against the Braves just a few years ago.

I was there for Todd Helton’s final at bat. He was not a Dodger, but it was a moment.

I have gone to games solo, eating peanuts and keeping score.

I have had a beer on opening day at 5:00 a.m. before work because I lived in Japan.

I have a Delino DeShields jersey t-shirt.

I took my girlfriend to her first game (on her first in-season visit to the US) this year, and we watched Kyle Farmer slap a walk-off hit against the hated Giants in his first career plate appearance.

I want to say I have watched the team in person at the ravine 100 times, but I’m sure it’s closer to 50. I’ve definitely eaten 100 Dodger Dogs.

I fucking bleed Dodger Blue and every time someone says, “Yay, sports! Woo,” in an attempt to make me feel bad about it or at the very least express their own opinion while neglecting an inadvertent attack at my identity as just collateral damage, I think to myself, “I am a Dodger fan.”

I don’t just like the Dodgers. I don’t just love the Dodgers.

There have been times when I really tried to believe in a God, but there was never a time when I tried to change my baseball allegiance. I have never thought about it for even a moment.

My view of the meaning of life is far more fluid than my baseball devotion.
There was one time I rooted for a player to hit a home run against the Dodgers, but it was because I was at the stadium with a cute girl, and I didn’t want the night to end.

I have never known life without the Dodgers. My family loves the Dodgers. I grew up in a Dodger house. The pace of baseball is not relevant. The idea of athletics as a recreation of strictly physical glory that takes the place of raping and pillaging an enemy, a benevolent yet brute representation of all that is primal and nonintellectual about mankind is not relevant.

Every time someone smart brings me down for watching baseball, I imagine them appraising a Renoir and me walking up behind them and screaming, “Look at all the pretty colors! Oooooooo. How profound! Look at you looking at it! Oooooooooh. The paint is so dry!”

I didn’t watch a Dodger game and think, “Oh this is cool! Who are these guys? I like that shade of blue. That was fun!”

I slowly gained cognitive awareness and agency in a Blue house amid a Blue world. I came into being around my fandom, not the other way around.

I am as much a Dodger fan as I am a man.

I know they’re going to lose tomorrow, but for the first time since I became aware, the Dodgers are taking the field with the intent of bringing home the trophy.

Tomorrow will be one of the most memorable days of my life, no matter what happens. I have been waiting thirty years for this.

I’m not going to work. Da ba dee, da ba die.

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