We have reached one of most magical times of the year, people.
Yes, I know summer is over and school is back in full swing. Sucks, sorry.
Yes, I know that Southern California is clutching on to the temperatures of hell regardless of the calendar’s announcement of the start of fall, and that we are probably all going to die in a fiery heat wave of death. Keep recycling.
Yes, department stores have started shoving Halloween and Christmas decorations in your face and you can feel a wave of anxiety building in the bottom of your stomach. Keep breathing.
Finding the negatives in life takes little skill and gives you nothing in return, which is why I must remind you what makes this seemingly suckish time of year so special.
IT’S OCTOBER. A.k.a. the time of year when baseball reaches its post season, football reaches its midseason and hockey reaches its preseason. It’s sports haven my friends.
This past weekend I was lucky to attend not 1 but 2 of the Dodgers’ NLDS (National League Division Series) games. As a lifelong, diehard Dodger fan, this was essentially a dream come true.
If you’ve never been to a baseball playoff game, heck, if you’ve never been to a baseball game (which is a crime in 12 states) (not really) (but it should be) (maybe) (just go see a baseball game) I’m going to give you an idea what you might find, at least at Dodger Stadium.
The stadium is located off the 5 freeway. Meaning that seemingly every human in Los Angeles will escort you to the stadium on their way home from work, honking and flipping you off all the while.
Once inside the lot, you will park roughly 400 miles from the stadium. You will tell every member of your group the landmarks around your car (i.e. the shapes of the trees, the storage units, the car you parked next to, and how many spots you are to the left of the light pole) which, when you exit the stadium after the game, will be as useful as a match in a rainstorm.
In your walk to the stadium, you will admire the tall blue walls surrounding it, learning the faces and names of the team’s top players and legends, printed in vibrant color near the field level entrance.
Off to the right of that entrance, you will see the stairs leading up to the higher levels and you will either laugh at the sorry suckers having to climb them and enter field level entrance, or groan at the stairs ahead of you, both telling yourself that you’re earning your Dodger Dog and mentally punching those you saw entering at field level.
Once in your seats, whether yellow (field level), orange (lodge level), blue (reserve or top deck), or the outfield pavilions, you will immediately give into the temptation of the smells infecting the air and get in line at the nearest concession stand.
Looking that the menu you will contemplate the different between a Dodger Dog and a Super Dog, picturing one as a normal hotdog with Matt Kemp’s face on it and the other as a Matt Kemp hotdog wearing a cape. You will then consider getting one of each with a side of French fries, some helmet nachos, a pretzel, peanuts, a water, and a beer, but you will decide against it 1) because you’ve somehow already begun to feel bloated, but more importantly 2) you only have 2 hands.
Retaking your seat, the pregame festivities will start. Music will pump through the speakers and you will find yourself singing and sit-dancing (so much neck and torso wiggling) to a song you thought you hated and will spill mustard on your shirt. (Keep rubbing it with the damp napkin. Even though the dime stain has now become quarter size, if you keep rubbing, it will magically disappear.) (This is a lie)
What is that?!
What. Is. happening?!
“SSSS TIIIMME FOR THE STARTING LINE UP OF YOUR LOS ANGELES DODGERS!”
No need to panic, it’s just the burly man on the loud speaker telling you which 9 Dodgers are playing today.
You will finish your dinner—immediately wanting to move on to dessert—and for the few moments you have between the lineup announcement and the throwing of the first pitch, you will people watch and this is what you’ll find:
-Faces, arms, legs, chests, and hopefully nothing else, painted blue and white.
-Blue wigs, blur hair extensions and blue facial hair.
-Foam Fingers (none of which are being violated by Miley Cyrus)
-Dodger jerseys, shirts, and jackets.
-Knockoff Dodger jerseys, shirts, and jackets.
-Homemade Dodger jerseys, shirts and jackets.
-Some unnecessary cleavage from the girls who only came to drink and check out baseball butts.
-A group of guys already being warned by security on their alcohol induced rowdiness.
-A fan of the opposing team quietly walking to their seat amongst the boos from home fans.
-A fan of the opposing team sauntering to their seat, waving, bowing and blowing kisses amongst the boos from home fans.
-A guy having a pensive, selfie marathon in front of the field, accessorized with beard strokes and crooked peace signs.
-Teenage girls organizing a group Instagram post.
-An older man with headphones and a radio, ready to watch the game live while listening to Vin Scully’s commentary.
-Adorable little nuggets dancing in their tiny Dodger jerseys and tiny Dodger shoes that will make you momentarily contemplate kidnapping.
And, if you’re at playoff game, lots and lots of rally towels.
Ideally, the first 6 ½ inning of the game will go like this:
Number of Dodger hits: >10
Number of Dodger runs: >5
Number of opposing team hits: 0
While you simultaneously experience this:
Number of claps: 5,002
Number of times you’ve said “CHARGE!”: 51
Number of times you’ve said “Let’s go dodgers!”: 67
Number of hot dogs you’ve eaten: 1-2
Number of hot dogs you’ve considered eating: >3
Number of times you’ve complained about the prices of snacks being sold: <10
Number of times you’ve given into the inflation: 2
In the middle of the 7th inning, you will rise to participate in the 7th inning stretch and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It’s sung twice. The first time you might feel embarrassed. If you don’t know the words you’ll find yourself looking up at the screen, reading the lyrics, praying with everything inside of you that they don’t put you on camera. The second time ‘round, you’re warmed up. You’ll sway a little, even smile, until the crowd has completely overtaken you and you find yourself screaming the last
“FOR IT’S 1, 2, 3 STRIKES YOU’RE OUT AT THE OLD BALLGAAAAAAME.”
You will then sit down, re-energized, and ready to reach an even 6,000 clap total for the game.
Usually after the 7th inning stretch—but sometimes before, depending on the crowd—you will start to see movement in the outfield. A guy, usually wearing a Dodger cape of some sort, will start from the foul pole side of the right field pavilion and start sprinting through the middle aisle towards center field. The crowd he passes will stand, arms up, in response, starting a well-known tradition in the baseball community known as, “the wave.” Exciting and uniting, the wave is a guaranteed source of fun for 3 rounds and a sure fire annoyance for all rounds after that.
Come 9th inning, if all has gone as planned, the Dodger’s closer will take the mound to miscellaneous instrumentals heavy with drums and guitar that has been decided will intimidate the opposing team before their last at bat. A close up of the closer’s poker face will be plastered up on Diamond Vision and he will immediately start popping the glove of the catcher with his pitches made for victory.
Then, with 2 outs, with all the fans on their feet screaming their last 20 “Let’s go Dodgers,” a final pitch will bring the Dodgers a win and Randy Newman will start blasting through the speakers singing “I Love LA.”
We won’t talk about the walk back to the car, when you go out a different exit than you went in and you find yourself walking aimlessly around the parking lot, arguing that the car is “just a few rows back” when you know that it’s completely across the lot. We also won’t talk about the task it is to get out of the parking lot, or the aggression it takes to squeeze your way into the lane corresponding to the freeway you need to take home.
No, we won’t talk about those because once you find yourself on the freeway, cruising at a totally non-ticket worthy speed—even though you slammed on your brakes when you saw that cop, which actually turned out to be a tree—you can only find yourself smiling at the night (or hell fiery day) that you just had.
In my case, I went home Saturday night beaming, knowing that my team is one step closer to the ultimate goal in October. But we don’t talk about it, because aside from clapping and hot dogs, superstition is one of the biggest parts of baseball.