I am a Dodger fan. Baseball's version of a battered wife...I get knocked down, but I keep coming back for more. I can't help it. I'm in love. I know someday they'll change, and we'll have our happy ending. We will. We HAVE to.
I'm a sucker for happy endings in movies. Whether it's the Von Trapp family climbing the Alps to freedom from the Nazis, Annie getting to stay with Daddy Warbucks, or Ron Burgundy ending up with Veronica Corningstone and landing a bitchin' network news gig, it's all fantastic. It makes my heart sing.
That's the beautiful thing about baseball. It's got all the makings of a great movie, with the eternal hope of a legendary ending. And LA has a fabulous cast: the heroes (the Dodgers), the villans (usually the Giants, but in tonight's case, the Phillies), the fearless leaders (Joe Torre and/or Tommy Lasorda), and the dynamic narrator (Vin Scully), squaring off against the backdrop of Chavez Ravine, tens of thousands of fans, and the buzz of vendors launching bags of peanuts that whiz over my head. I love it. I never grow tired of it.
And baseball is even BETTER than a movie. How, you might ask? Every game is a living, breathing movie moment. It holds the constant potential of a grandiose finish, with a double high-five celebration with your best friend, and all the while cheering for the heroes with 40,000 other people in a slow-motion montage of pure joy. Because for that moment in time, you're not just watching a movie ending...you're an active participant. You're living it. You're part of something bigger than yourself.
Tonight, my beloved Dodgers lost their quest for the National League Pennant, and the chance to go to the World Series. For the first time in LA in 20 years, we could see the World Series on the horizon. We could almost touch it. It would have been easier if we never even made it to the postseason, but that carrot was dangled right in front of us, and we almost grabbed it. ALMOST.
I was at school tonight during the final game of the NLCS. Thankfully, tonight's lab monitor set up a TV with the game on, so I periodically popped out of the darkroom to check the score. The Dodgers got pummeled. It was painful. There was no movie ending for us tonight, instead the Phillies celebrated their victory on OUR field, in front of OUR poor fans. I actually felt a little violated watching their celebration on OUR home plate. As far as I'm concerned, they might as well have simultaneously whipped it out and peed on Vin Scully. I know watching the opponent celebrate has happened to countless other teams and fans, but seeing it on my home turf bugged me. When I could no longer watch the red caps of the Phillies' players bobbing up and down in stupid happiness, I quietly shook my head in disappointment, and slipped back into the darkroom, slowly realizing that our season was over. They were so close, they'd worked so hard. And it's all over.
Dodger fans...remember this? Of course you do.
If Kirk Gibson's 1988 walk-off home run doesn't stir something in you, I can't help you. You're a damn robot. It's because of that video that I still believe in my Dodgers. Tonight was obviously not our movie ending. We had it in '88, and I have faith that this is just part of the plot build-up for the year that we finally do it again.
That's the risk we take in loving baseball...you know you might get your heart broken. But once you finally come out on top, it makes the countless let-downs worth it, because you appreciate it that much more when you finally get it. Call me dramatic if you must, but any baseball fan knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about, and has been nodding their heads while they've read this post.
Our day will come. And it could be worse. I could be a Cubs fan. That's just got to be torture. Poor Cubbies.