dodgers

Stay Loyal to Your Team, Stay Loyal to Your Dream

On this blog I often talk a lot about dreams. I wonder and I hope and I try to be honest about what I’m doing to try and make mine come true, in the hopes that it can inspire you to do the same. Sometimes I talk about baseball, and my boys in blue, and how their dreams tend to mix with some of my dreams, especially in October.

Last night, I watched Game 5 of the World Series, and unfortunately saw the Dodgers lose to the Boston Red Sox. It was hard, the way it always is when you know the season is officially over, but also in that deeper, tougher way that you can only experience when your season ends in the World Series and it’s not with a trophy in your hands. My mom, sister and I watched from home and my dad watched from a seat in the stands, and we all slumped our shoulders and sighed when the last out was made.

Not this year.

It’s a phrase I’ve become rather familiar with, both in baseball, since the Dodgers haven’t won the World Series since 1988—two years before I was born—and in life, because there are a number of dreams that haven’t necessarily come true yet.

Not this year. Not this job. Not this time. I’m sorry, but no.

The difference is, it’s easy to take the loss in baseball. Well, not easy, but easier. When the game ends and you watch the other team run into each others arms and hold the trophy up  over their heads, you sulk and you sigh and you wish things were different, but eventually you move on. And as the months go by and April comes into focus, you put on your hat and your jersey and you show up to your first game with a new attitude, a new set of possibilities and a new determination to win.

You stay loyal, no matter what. No matter how bad last season was. No matter how far from the finish line you stood when the last out was made. You take a seat in the stands and you say, “let’s try again.”

But how often do we bring that same positive mindset into our own lives? How loyal are we to our own reset buttons? How quick are we to bounce back and try again after our own losses and failures?

At the beginning of every season, every team in the MLB has a 1/30 chance to win the World Series. And after 175 (or so) games, that crazy, farfetched whisper of a possibility becomes a reality for one team.

The dream you’re striving for, the dream that I’m striving for, while they might have better or worse odds, still have that one chance. And unlike being a fan, we have the power to take it. We’re not sitting in the stands, complaining about what we would have done different, we’re in the game, responsible for our own successes and failures, and even more, responsible for gathering up the nerve to come back and say, “let’s try again.”

I’ll always root (root root) for the Dodgers. I’ll always show up in April, no matter how heartbreaking October was, and I assume you’d do the same for your team. But we need to start employing that loyalty in our own lives, for our own dreams. We need to take all that passion and frustration and undeniable determination and make things happen.

I’m looking at you, and I’m looking at me, and I’m looking at you, Dodgers. We may not have won this round, but there’s always a new one on the horizon. Maybe it’s in April, maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s in a few years from now. We just have to keep working, keep trying, keep putting ourselves in the game, and one day, that trophy will be ours.

Thank You, Dodgers. Thank You, Baseball.

When I was little my grandparents had season tickets to Dodger Stadium. There were four tickets, two for my grandma and grandpa, and then two for the lucky duo they brought with them. Oftentimes I went with my cousin, Spenser, or my sister, Natalee. Other times the tickets were given to my parents and my whole family would go.

We’d always get there early to watch batting practice, and then we’d grab a Dodger Dog right before game time so it could digest before we got chocolate malts in the 6th inning. I loved sitting next to my grandma and keeping score inside the program, and always tried to catch the beach balls bouncing around the crowd so I could hand them off to our favorite usher, Irene, to make her job a little easier. The sounds of the stadium, of Vinny, of Nancy Bea on the organ, all became lyrics to a song I could sing in my sleep.

As I grew up, my grandparents eventually gave up the season tickets, but this did little to lessen my passion for the game or the team I grew up watching. If anything, it deepened. With a better sense of baseball and all it entailed, I started to really get to know the boys in blue, no matter what variety a season would present them in. I began keeping track of stats, giving commentary on recommended lineups, and most importantly, dreaming of the World Series.

In my 27 years as a Dodger fan, there have been many seasons when I’ve had that feeling. The one that keeps quiet in public, but at home whispers, maybe. Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the team. But year after year, at some point that maybe would turn into a no. It always hurt, but come April, the hurt was always replaced by possibility, by a new maybe.

This year, I got that feeling. Even at the first night game I attended in April, I felt like there was something special about this team. That night I scanned my ticket and grabbed a Dodger Dog and a beer and took my seat, anxious for another April, hopeful for another October. Six months later, I was scanning another ticket, taking another seat, and ordering another Dodger Dog, but this time it was Game 6 of the World Series.

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For weeks I had rushed home from work and drove over to my parents’ house to watch the Dodgers climb their way to the Fall Classic, and suddenly I was there, in the flesh. My sister and I walked up the stairs in a sea of blue. Friends and family hugged and strangers high fived and everyone smiled in anxious anticipation.

When we won the game 4 hours later, the stadium erupted. Friends and family and neighbors and strangers hugged and high-fived and cheered and teared up. The crowd moved in waves of blue and white, singing and chanting and smiling. I thought of my grandma and grandpa and the first game I could remember attending and I felt that same feeling of pure magic.

The next day, as I sat on my parents’ couch, watching the last few outs of Game 7 tick off the scoreboard, and submitting my Dodgers to a season just shy of the ultimate finish line, I tried my best to remain solely heartbroken. The loss hurt, but there was something else stirring inside me that I couldn’t quite shake.

As I watched the sea of blue and white (and orange) file up the rows and out to the parking lot, I saw families and friends like mine feeling the same heartbreak we felt in our living room. And suddenly I realized how many other living rooms and bars and hotel lobbies and restaurants held other families and friends either mourning or celebrating. This game, these teams, my team, had brought us all together. And with all the bad going on in the world, we were able to find something to root for.

When my sister and I stepped inside the gates for Game 6, I felt the weight of where we were, but in many ways felt the same way I always do when I walk up the stairs to Blue Heaven: at home. I heard the same sounds, smelled the same smells and looked down at the same view.

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After Game 7, when the confetti started flying and it wasn’t the color I was hoping for, my stomach sank. After the most exciting season of my life, this year’s maybe had officially turned into a no.

When I got home that night, I got a text from a friend, “see you next season.” And even though the wound was still fresh, I couldn’t help but smile. “Always,” I thought, “there’s always next season.” And I know come April I’ll be there, with a ticket, a Dodger Dog, and a maybe.