This blog isn’t much of a reflection of what’s going on in my life, or for that matter what’s important to me. These days it’s mostly a space to write about music once a week. And while music is important to me, there are other things that occupy most of my daily life——namely, my family and my job.
And then there’s baseball. From April to October I watch a lot of Dodger baseball. When I can’t watch, I listen on the radio or follow along on my phone. It’s a rare Dodgers’ game that goes by where I haven’t participated in at least an inning or two of it.
Baseball is one of those things that balances out the bad stuff in life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about (read about, talk about, learn about, teach about) the current war against Latinx migrants and families. Not a day goes by that I’m not equally involved in the consequences of a racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic regime ruling this country. Baseball is my relief from those horrid reminders of the shortcomings of the human species. It’s my escape and my positive connection to those same flawed humans, my community of fellow fans.
I know it’s “just” baseball. That said, it never fails to amaze me how much a bunch of grown men playing a kid’s game can affect me, both positively and negatively. It’s also an excuse for me to work on perspective. After all, if winning the World Series is the goal of every team every year, 29 of us are going to come up short. It’s been 30 years since we’ve won a series. We’re getting good at perspective.
So you learn to appreciate the steps along the way. I love a good game. I love it when the Dodgers win. I love it when the players I like turn in amazing days at their jobs. I enjoy talking about baseball with other Dodgers’ fans. At the end of the day, it’s the little things.
Of course, I care about the big things, too. I often say baseball is one of those sports where, at the end of the season, you get to see who the best teams are. We play 162 games. I think the teams sitting on top of each division and each league at the end of that road have something to be proud of. They’re the best. I’m fortunate that the team I love has won the Western Division for six years running. It’s a great achievement, one that I can use to console myself since being the best is different than being successful during the playoffs.
Playoff baseball is a different beast than the regular season. The best team doesn’t always win. It’s not about being the best——it’s about being the best on the field that day. Sure, better teams have an advantage. But it’s way more complicated than that.
The Dodgers are about to play in their 20th World Series competition in their storied history. Our very first was in 1916 against the Boston Red Sox. (At that time we were the Brooklyn Robins.) We lost that one, as we did the next six we played in. The Brooklyn Dodgers would lose 7 World Series before winning their first and only title in 1955. The next year they’d get there again, but lose. That’s a 1-8 record.
(Six of those losses were against one team——the New York Yankees. So was their only victory. Perspective.)
We’ve won five World Series since moving to Los Angeles. We’ve been in the Series another 5 times and lost. That’s a 5-5 record for us. Not bad. And I know I’m lucky to have a team that’s made it to the big show for two years running. We’re back-to-back National League Champions. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Of course, I still want the Dodgers to win it all.
Last year I was confident but also pretty realistic. Houston was playing at their best for much of the playoffs and they had momentum. The Dodgers were a better team, but even with their massive winning streak and killer winning percentage for a chunk of the season, they were still a tricky bunch. After all, this was a team that went on a 1-16 losing streak. Needless to say, I was hopeful they’d win game 7 last year but I was emotionally prepared if they did not. Perspective.
This year is different. The Dodgers are not as good a team as Boston. Boston is better by almost any measure that matters. And while the Dodgers have some degree of last year’s weaknesses, they are a much more seasoned group of guys. Perspective matters there, too. And then there’s our offense, which only matters when it does, and it often does.
Over the next week, I’m going to be really happy and really stressed and really sad, just not all at the same time or in the same measure. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the achievements——the sixth in a row Western Division title and the back-to-back National League titles. Whatever happens, I’m lucky to be a fan of one of the last two teams playing ball right now. And I’m prepared for whatever may come.
Especially if that’s a World Series title.