In a city where sports fans are notorious for arriving late at games and then leaving early (purportedly to miss the traffic although, hey, it’s LA and there’s always traffic); where basketball games (the Lakers, namely) have more royalty off the court these days than on; where the number of football teams has increased twofold (as has lack of enthusiasm for them, seemingly) — one thing has remained a constant. This city’s love for its boys in blue — the Dodgers.
And while our boys of summer now face do-or-die in their autumn race to capture the World Series title, the fans who love them stand by their side. Like through ten seemingly unending innings in Game 5 last night that now bring them home on the edge of either brilliant victory or the chill of a fall defeat (although again, hey, it’s LA, and the fall really isn’t all that chilly, but you get my point).
Because I grew up a Yankees fan in New York, I had grave concern a couple of weeks ago about which team I would root for if the Yankees won the American League pennant to face the Dodgers. I shared my concern with B. whom, although a former New Yorker himself, was not terribly supportive. To wit:
Me: I’m torn. What if the Yankees win and I have to choose between them or the Dodgers?
He: You’ve been living in LA for more than 20 years — it has to be the Dodgers.
Me: But the Yankees — the team of Mantle and Maris, of Lou Gehrig and the Babe, of Joe DiMaggio — and I can hear you mocking me by humming Mrs. Robinson under your breath so cut it out — of Joe Torre and Derek Jeter and A-Rod before the drug scandal …
He: (cutting to the chase) How many of the current Yankees can you name?
Me: (pretending not to hear)
He: And how many Yankee games have you been to in your life?
Me: (small voice) One?
He: And the Dodgers?
Me: (naming about five current players)
He: And how many Dodger games?
Me: (silently, holding up 10 fingers)
He: I rest my case.
Me: (muttering) The Yankees have better uniforms.
Me: Shut up.
But as things turned out, I didn’t have to make the choice. And also as things turned out, B. was right (do not tell him I said that) and cheering on the home team feels really good (it would feel better if we were leading 3-2, but I’m choosing to take the high road here).
And through all my puzzlements about the details of the game (tagging up, the designated hitter rule, forward Ks, backward Ks, fouls as strikes except when they’re not), one thing I do know is the sound of the bat hitting the ball that signals a home run. There’s nothing else like it. Except maybe sitting in Dodger Stadium on a sunny afternoon, beer in hand, soaking up the atmosphere and the history (and trying to ignore the guy next to me on his phone because hey, it’s LA).
Good to be home.
ⓒ 2017 Claudia Grossman