I am 40 years old, yet I fight to choke back tears upon the completion of baseball season.
I’m not articulate enough to describe the metaphor for life that is baseball, but I’m sure you’ve heard the trope: the metronomic reliability of having a ballgame to turn on each night; hope springing eternal in the spring and dashed permanently in autumn. For me, recently, the revelation that the autumn of my life is rapidly approaching seems to take on more meaning as the curtain falls on each heart-breaking Dodgers season finale.
Halloween. Thanksgiving. “The Holidays.”
These are some of the Best Moments of Our Lives; when even the temperate Los Angeles air takes on a crisp, cool feel in the mornings. Neighborhood decor evolves from ghoulish delights to bountiful cornucopias to finally, the festive lights that represent the closing of yet another calendar year. Yet here we are, staring into the void of
Yet Another Winter to Ruminate on Missed Opportunity.
Dave Roberts and Clayton Kershaw broke my heart. Again. It’s easy to pin the losses on those two; Kershaw’s postseason struggles are as ghastly as his regular season successes are noteworthy; Roberts is now single-handedly responsible for four of the eight World Series losses over the last two Octobers. Really, though, this was a team collapse. Ryan Madson’s ‘perfect’ performance, allowing seven of seven inherited baserunners to score; Scott Alexander’s 13.50 ERA, Kenta Maeda allowing the death blow – the bases-clearing double to series MVP Steve Pearce in the ninth inning of Game 4. And that offense! Much was made about their inability to push runners across by anything other than a home run. The team batted a collective .180 with a .550 OPS. Austin Barnes was hitless in 11 at-bats. Cody Bellinger, Matt Kemp, and Joc Pederson combined to go 3-for-37. David Freese, Justin Turner, and Yasiel Puig were the only batters that hit .250 or better. Include Max Muncy and you don’t have one other player that exceeded .630 OPS. And that fearsome mid-season acquisition that was supposed to put the Dodgers over the top, Manny Machado? He hit .182 with a robust .390 OPS in the series, so yeah – that’s definitely not my cup of tea for a so-called superstar.
Yep, there’s more than enough blame to go around, which brings me back to the Real Life part of this depressive fog. Who is to blame for real-life woes? I broke a dish this morning in the kitchen, I’m 12 pounds overweight, my head is throbbing fiercely, and my Mom witnessed what was most likely her final World Series ever. Life happens. And sometimes there’s nobody to blame. The Red Sox were damn good in this World Series. Phenomenal, in fact. I would frequently receive texts from objective baseball fan buddies reminding me that the ‘superior’ team resided in Boston, and wouldn’t you know – they were ready to Do Damage.
The Sox incinerated L.A.’s pitching staff, and blew the doors off of one of the most meticulously-constructed rosters in Major League Baseball history. So kudos to those guys – and their fans. I have never – and I mean never – seen such a heavy presence of visiting fans inside dodger Stadium. I estimate about forty percent of attendees were Red Sox fans when I stepped inside Dodger Stadium on Saturday for the Infamous Game Four Collapse. I also noted on television for Game Five, that when the Red Sox had big moments it literally “sounded” like they were on their home field. So good job, Bostonians, you came with it.
In Our House.
In My House.
This was the place that I dreamed of playing during my adolescence, the place that I spent so many springs, summers, and now autumns into my adulthood; cherishing some of the best moments of my life – with my Dad, Mom, Wife, and Son. It is now going on 31 years since Chavez Ravine was the epicenter for a World Series celebration, and it will take every bit of the four month offseason to accept that fact. But it is only a game, and life does indeed go on. When the dust settles from the holidays and the calendar turns to 2019, the Dodgers will head into a new season with or without Machado, Kershaw, Roberts, Kemp, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Yasmani Grandal. They will keep going forward, because that is Life. So I will wipe away the tears and know that when pitchers and catchers report next spring, I will be ready to pull up a chair and enjoy the freshly mowed ballfields and beautiful crack of the wood bats anew.
In the aftermath of the loss last night, with the dark enveloping my corner of the San Fernando Valley and bedtime looming, my five-year old son Felix said:
Papa, let’s go hit some homers.
So I turned on the backyard lights and pitched to him, even with my heavy heart. Because I know that though the 2018 season is in the history books, Life is writing new chapters every year.
And that’s why I love baseball, heartbreak and all.