Great beginnings sometimes end in commiserated sorrow
Is it possible to have a good time at a game that ends a team’s season?
When you go to a game by yourself you don’t have the luxury of picking who you hang out with, you get the luck of the draw.
Sometimes you get lucky and find yourself enveloped around good fun Dodger fans or loud obnoxious Dodger fans. It is a fine line between the two. When I left for the game the plan was to park at Pierce and take the Orange/Red/Gold line to Chinatown and walk but when I realized that traffic was easy peasy I decided to head for the Ravine and see if I could get there early enough to snag some decent off-street parking since I hadn’t purchased parking beforehand. I did, and instead of getting to the game around 04:30 I was there at 03:00 with nothing to do but stand in line which got me to the gate before everyone but one person. In all the years I’ve been going I’ve never been there before the gate opened unless I was covering a game for TrueBlueLA and entering with the credentialed press at the top deck.
I realized I was so early that once I got in I could either use my single ticket which was in Loge 165 or head for the drinking wells behind home plate which would give me an excellent view of the game but meant standing for about five hours. I choose the latter and found that Dodger Services had a little trick where they would save spots at the drinking wells for their friends, but since I was the 3rd person to show up I was still able to get a nice spot. To my left was Dodger Twitter Celebrity @dodgers_randi and to my right was a lady dressed not in Dodger blue but in Cub blue which easily started a conversation. She was a Cub fan and a baseball fan and was at the game simply to watch baseball. I loved this so much. So we didn’t talk Dodger baseball, we talked baseball.
That is how you pass time before a game. Before long the throng of Dodger fans the Dodger Services had saved spots showed up. I didn’t recognize anyone from Dodger Twitter but I’m sure they were. To be honest many of the Dodger Twitter group look the same based on their avatar. The leader of the group of mostly women and a bazillion kids noticed the Cub fan and I wondered how that would go since Dodger fans have been known to be a tad unfriendly to those who don’t sport the proper blue. She told her that since she is with them she was part of the family and was true to her words. As the game went on, the Cub fan had been fully integrated into their group. I was pretty sure a new friend had been added to the club.
To my left, a new addition had shown up, an elderly Dodger fan that Randi had saved the space for, she had as much enthusiasm as any Dodger fan in the park. She became my first high five partner when Joc almost hit a Joc Jack and collected high fives in droves from everyone around her.
As the old white male, I was just kind of watching all of this unfold. I was an active spectator for what the Dodgers were doing and simply a bemused spectator of the fan dynamics going on around me. Everyone was having fun, and while much of it was the beer, the Dodgers early lead, a big part I felt was simply the comradery that Dodger Twitter has created. I’m not part of the comradery but it is fascinating to watch it happen.
Throughout the game, Dodger Twitter folk would show up to get a selfie with @dodgers_randi and chat her up. You could tell this was a daily experience for her and she made it possible leaving her season seats in the top deck to be accessible in the loge at the drinking wells for her legion of Twitter fans. To do this she has to be there before anyone else, not an easy trick to accomplish.
Eventually, I stepped back from the table to let two young girls have a place to put their beer and food. I didn’t need the table and just by stepping back the two spaces I found a nice pole to lean back against and that was where I stayed. It was a small price to pay because I had beer bought for me by a very incessant girl which made her happy for reasons I don’t fathom. As more beer was poured the happier the group to my right was getting. They were in full-blown party mode which you do better from the standing room only drinking spots behind the seats. If you didn’t collect half a dozen high fives for anything remotely successful by the Dodgers you weren’t trying.
Everything was going right until it wasn’t. Kershaw killed the mood but it would have taken one key clutch hit to undo the damage but the offense couldn’t do it. Instead of the anticipation of celebration, there was now dread that this was the last game of the season. Howie turned that dread into reality. The group’s fun dynamic was gone but they just hugged each other instead of dancing. The Dodger season was over, but their friendships would endure beyond the Dodger season.
I left with the chants of Roberts Sucks and Kershaw Sucks echoing around the stadium. I could understand the frustration but I’d never vocalize it. Once again the Dodgers had failed to win at home the sudden death game. This loss now made me 1 -3 in those games.
You can tell by age how I’ve progressed with these games.
In 1980 I was so pissed off. So so pissed off. I didn’t know 1981 was in my future and felt that was the last shot for the Garvey/Lopes/Russel/Yeager/Smith/Baker/Monday group to win a ring. At that time I wanted that ring as much for myself as a Dodger fan as I did for the players.
In 2017 Yu Darvish made me mad and Kershaw even made me madder by how well he pitched in relief of Darvish. Where was that stuff in Game 5? I was mad for him. His legacy deserves a ring, but he had to pitch better if he wanted to get one. Two out of three doesn’t cut when you are hunting a World Series. I left that game annoyed that it was over before it even started. At least be competitive.
2019 I wasn’t mad last night, I was simply sad that it was Kershaw who couldn’t do what he needed to do. I was annoyed with Dave Roberts and feel he didn’t manage the team right, but it was still Kershaw who blew the 2-run lead in the 8th inning. This is like 1980 for me having watched the 74, 77, and 78 teams not win a World Series. I don’t know if there is a 1981 on the horizon for Kershaw/Turner/Kenley but unlike 1980 I don’t really care enough to be mad about it.
I walked away from a sudden death loss, and I still could say, I had a great time, and none of it was related to me, but to the people around me.