There are 162 games in the regular season of a major league baseball team, and I have watched exactly … hm … none. Spring, summer, autumn, as the Dodgers died and rose from the dead, I wasn’t looking.
But now, like almost everyone else in L.A., I will be cheering them in the playoffs, cheering them to their first World Series game since Michael Dukakis ran for president.
I am that deplorable creature: The fair-weather fan.
I like sports just fine, but my sport is football.
They say baseball is a relaxing game. Boy, is it! You can eat, doze, eat again, and it’s still the fourth inning. I’ve tried to love baseball, I really have. But the diamond can’t beat the gridiron when it comes to football’s built-in thrill advantage: At any possible second, the football can change hands, the defense becomes the offense … and score!
Just about the best time I ever had at Dodger Stadium was watching the pope round the bases in his Popemobile, when he visited L.A. That was the year before the Dodgers won the World Series for the last time. I hear baseball players are superstitious; maybe it’s time to invite the new pope for a return engagement.
Kitty Felde – now there’s a fan. She’s even written plays about baseball! But she’s way back in the nation’s capital, stuck with the Washington Nationals to root for.
It’s a paradox, really. I’ve interviewed the former Dodgers owner, Peter O’Malley, who is a truly wonderful man. I’ve interviewed Carl Erskine, the Dodgers pitcher who goes back to the Brooklyn days, and a sweeter guy you could never meet. I know Roz Wyman, the First Fan, the city councilwoman who worked the magic to bring the Dodgers here from Brooklyn. I interviewed the McCourts, back when they were still a plural. The L.A. Times once sent me to write about Fernando Valenzuela’s hometown in Mexico, back when El Zurdo started burning up the mound at Chavez Ravine. And I sat with that gift of a man, Vin Scully, at Dodger Stadium, as the team warmed up on the jewel-box beautiful field.
None of that made a true baseball believer of me. Instead, I pine like Juliet for a pro football team. O Dodgers, Dodgers, wherefore art thou the Dodgers, and not the Green Bay Packers?
But I would be thrilled if the Dodgers took the whole baseball enchilada – thrilled, because I am an Angeleno, and the Dodgers are that rare civic institution that ties us all together, even if you don’t know a base hit from base ten.
And that makes me as entitled as the next local to put on my Dodger Blue and holler my heart out, and cheer them all the way to the World Series.