I have a not so secret confession to make: I didn’t watch much of yesterday’s game.
As some of you may already know from reading my work on this site, as a long-distance fan living about 3500 miles and 4 time zones away, I’ve watched all of or the majority of every Dodgers game since May 2014 – at friend’s cottages on my phone, from the comfort of my couch, at traffic stops while driving home from work, wherever and however it was physically possible…but tonight, I just had to turn it off. This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on the team – I’ve long since accepted I’m in this for the long haul – but as each year passes, the postseason affects me more and more, and sometimes…well I just don’t want to watch the insanity unfold…so I just didn’t.
Maybe it was because last night’s game just seemed too momentous in its importance. I knew it meant a lot; Clayton Kershaw coming back after being scratched in Game 2 due to back spasms, a win meaning the rest of the series would come down to a ‘simple’ best of 3, the team hopefully bounding back from an unexpected and unprecedented offensive explosion the night before…well there was just so much to hope for.
It almost meant too much, if that makes any sense.
“For once in my life, let me, let me get what I want…Lord knows, it would be the first time…”
I hear from old friends during the playoffs each year – and really missing one special old friend who used to console me each year when my beloved team was eliminated – and I appreciate this connection, how there are a lot of people out there who know how much the success of the Dodgers – and in particular Clayton Kershaw – means to me, and who take the time to celebrate the fun moments with me. When these moments have played out on national TV and are not exactly joyous, well, over these last 7 years I’ve heard a lot of “there’s always next year” and “sports suck” in an effort to make me feel better, and in past years it normally has.
But this year? Turning the NLCS off in the 6th inning because I just can’t bear to see my team lose, can’t stand to see the disappointment unfold before my eyes? This just isn’t like me, and I wonder what’s changed, and I ponder over an extra drink I probably don’t need. I realize it’s because besides my own health, that of my love ones, and general existence, I can’t think of anything I’ve wanted more in my life than to see my baseball team win a World Series, specifically my favorite human I have never met, Clayton Kershaw.
I think of the years of his life, the heart and soul he has poured into this team, and I just can’t. Tonight, I didn’t need the sight of him handing the ball to Dave Roberts, couldn’t take watching another offensive collapse in person because I just care so much more every season. As I tried and probably failed to explain to a friend recently…every year as time marches on, it just means more and more. With baseball, with life, with everything. Time really does get shorter the older we get.
Now, I like to think I’m mature and wise enough to keep it all in perspective, that the sun will always come tomorrow and life will continue to go on if we’re lucky. In fact, I know I’ve matured a lot as a fan since the 2014 season, as life has given me no choice but to keep it all in perspective; but that doesn’t mean watching my beloved fail to live up to expectations in October gets any easier. Every year I ask myself if I care too much, then realize I wouldn’t have it any other way; in fact, cannot imagine my life without Dodgers baseball and the community I’ve proudly become a part of.
And no matter what has come and what further pain may come our way, I still choose hope over misery. I maintain we can be sad, disappointed, angry, remorseful, but we have to hope for a better outcome. Quite frankly, what do we have left if we have no hope?
If it’s tomorrow, this weekend, next season, or the year after, we are all still going to have Dodgers baseball to help us pass the time, keep us connected, and someday – I guarantee you – provide us with the biggest thrill of all: our team winning the final game of the season.
Here’s the thing: we can choose to have hope, or to abandon all hope. Life will continue to unfold either way, and I prefer holding out hope (for a Dodgers WS yes, and a lot of things, quite frankly) over the alternative. We all fan differently, and this is just my chosen route.
— Gail Johnson (@GJOH29) October 14, 2020
(PS – put Ted Lasso on your off-season watch list. You can thank me later)