The day after the last game of the season has been, for several years now, a day of mourning for many a Dodgers fan. It starts with that almost indescribable – yet all too familiar – feeling of waking up (if you’ve slept at all) and realizing that the wild ride you’ve been on for 6 + months has come to an all too abrupt stop. And it hurts…oh, how it hurts.
Having first cried over the outcome of a baseball at the tender age of 9, I’ve frequently asked myself over the years why I continue to put myself through the annual stress, agony, and ultimate pain of elimination, until I realized – it only hurts so much because I care so deeply for these players.
Still the most iconic image from this October. That's a love hug. pic.twitter.com/bOyHTeuTfx
— Clint Pasillas (@realFRG) October 22, 2019
If I wasn’t so emotionally invested in this team, I wouldn’t revolve my life schedule around them during the spring/summer/fall, wouldn’t spend the money on subscriptions that I do, wouldn’t have taken the trips to LA that I’ve been fortunate enough to take. But, I do, and it’s that deep emotional connection that makes the “end of season” pain so intense…a risk, I’ve come to realize, that I’m more than willing to keep taking.
This summer, about halfway through this insanely entertaining season, I lost the person who meant the most to me in the world – a man over whom I’d shed countless tears over the years, but also happened to love with all of my heart. In the days and weeks following his death, I’d wake up with a feeling of emptiness not unlike the baseball gut punch (yet on a much deeper scale), and the world somehow seemed quieter without him in it. A bird who used to chirp incessantly outside my bedroom window went mysteriously quiet, there were suddenly no cars traveling down my street, and no lawn mowers hummed and buzzed in the summer morning air. I found myself experiencing levels of grief that I didn’t think possible…the product of having experienced such a great love, one that I’ll forever be grateful for and helped shape me into the person I am today.
“Grief is the last act of love we can give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”
I’m not here to compare the finality of death with the end of the baseball season, but instead to point out and help some of you understand that grief is natural and universal. It’s not pleasant, but the only way to avoid the pain that comes with “the end”, whatever that happens to look like, is to never let yourself love at all.
And when it comes to Dodgers baseball, where’s the fun in that? In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t allowed themselves to love someone or something the way many of us love our Dodgers. I wrote a love letter to the organization this past summer, and will never tire of shouting to the hills that being a fan of this team is the aspect of my life I’m most proud of and grateful for. My love for this team has gotten me through some rough personal times, and it will be what continues to help me through the off-season – especially those empty, quiet moments – for years to come.
When it comes to matters of the heart – sports related or otherwise, my hope for you is that you dare to take that leap of faith and go all in on what you’re most passionate about. Allow yourself to be open to the hurt, for it’s the product of a great love. The end, when it does come, may be devastating, but if you’re lucky enough, there’ll soon be another spring, a new season…and just maybe, one more dance.
As the saying goes, nothing gold can stay, and nothing – not even a magical, historic baseball season – lasts forever, but I believe that great love does, if you let it.
The Dance: Grieving a Season’s End
Looking backOn the memory ofThe dance we sharedBeneath the stars aboveFor a momentAll the world was rightHow could I have knownThat you’d ever say goodbyeAnd nowI’m glad I didn’t knowThe way it all would endThe way it all would goOur lives are better left to chanceI could have missed the painBut I’d have had to miss the dance — from “The Dance” by Garth Brooks