Honey, the Dodgers Are Coming Over
What happens when you move to your team's hometown.
One afternoon a couple of months ago, I was getting ready to go pick up my son from preschool when the phone rang. It was a producer friend of mine, a wonderful woman who's been supportive of my quixotic efforts to make a dime in this town. Her husband's mother also just happens to be an original Dodger Stadium season-ticket holder. They own eight seats, 27 games a year, right behind the home dugout.
"Do you want to go to the game tonight? I've got four tickets."
"Do I? Do I? Yes!!!! It's just that my kid … and … I've got …."
"I thought of you first because I know you're a big fan."
There were some plans for that night, but they'd have to be canceled. I arranged to take my wife, my son, and my son's best friend, a 3-year-old who's the biggest Dodger fan I know other than myself. Anyone who's ever taken two 3-year-olds to a baseball game will agree that it's hardly the ideal circumstance. I ended up, as I knew I would, spending the fifth and sixth innings with the kids running around the concession area, roaring, while I pretended to be a bear. But come on! Who cares? It's the Dodgers!
The Dodgers were my team growing up in suburban Phoenix. Those years, 1977 to 1988, were comfortable ones in Dodgerland. We almost always fielded a winning team, went to the playoffs more often than not, and enjoyed Fernandomania. I'd just headed off to college when Kirk Gibson hit his miracle shot to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. That homer felt like the ultimate return on a long boyhood of bleeding blue.
Eighteen years passed, and the Dodgers declined. During this period, the team won only one playoff contest, a 2004 complete-game effort by a pitcher whose biggest contribution that season had been singing the national anthem. I lived thousands of miles east, and my connection dissipated. I cheated on the team for years with the Cubs. I even had a brief, sordid dalliance with the Phillies.
Then this January, I moved. For the first time in nearly 30 years as a Dodger fan, I would actually be in L.A. Despite the fact that Frank and Jamie McCourt, the Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos of baseball, now own the Dodgers, I still count myself as a fan. I've come home to the Blue.
My family, sadly, didn't understand that our move West meant that the Dodgers would be shacking up with us. I've molded my life to suit the needs of the team. One Wednesday in mid-April, the Dodgers had a 10 a.m. Pacific start time in Pittsburgh. I chose that day to "work" in bed so I could watch the game. My wife passed by the room.