Oct 2, 2008

Dodgers and Cubs - My Blue Dilemma

I have a dilemma.

It will be totally resolved in a few days, but it burdens me now.

You see, when I am cut, I bleed Dodger Blue. The voice of Vin Scully is soothing, like the ocean waves or the wind blowing through a gently swaying palm. A grilled Dodger Dog tastes like fillet mignon, it's aroma alone puts other stadium vendors out of business. The sound of 56,000 cheering fans at Dodger Stadium raises and emotional excitement that never fully leaves your psyche. It is a wonderful noise.

But for we faithful, we haven't had much to cheer about for 20 years. It was exactly two decades ago that Kirk Gibson played Robert Redford. I still can't believe what I saw. In a year that was so improbable, the impossible happened.



Since then, there have been some good moments to cheer, but no champions. Wednesday night was only the 2nd playoff game the Dodgers have won since 1988.

I should take a moment here to address my San Diego Padre fan friends, who may have a difficult time understanding some of these things. After all, the Dodgers only retire uniform numbers of Hall of Famers who go into the Hall as Dodgers. The Padres retire numbers of former Dodgers who give the Padres a good highlight.



I am a Padre fan also. I love the Padres and root for them all year long. This is also difficult for my Padre fan friends to accept because Padre fans are supposed to hate the Dodgers. But the Padres/Dodgers "rivalry" is one way only. The Padres have invented a "rivalry" with the Dodgers because it helps sell tickets. That is understandable. Baseball is a business after all.

The Dodgers and Dodger fans have no beef with the Padres; there is no rivalry from a Dodger fan's perspective. This is why its easy for me to be a fan of the Dodgers AND the Padres at the same time. The closest thing to a Padres-Dodgers rivalry may have been back in the days of Padre Kurt Bevacqua, who once accused Tommy Lasorda of ordering Dodger pitchers to deliberately hit Padre batters. Lasorda responded that he has never in his career as a pitcher or as a manager deliberately thrown at a hitter, but that if he ever did, he certainly wouldn't waste time throwing at a batter like Bevacqua, who couldn't hit water if he fell out a boat. I can't put that in quotes because the actual quote included several colorful metaphors added between those words. But you get the idea.

Bottomline is, I am a Dodger fan, but also a Padre fan. The real Dodger rivalry is with the Giants, and it goes both ways and there is no love. Its a real rivalry, dangerous and passionate. The Padres are simply another team to play in order to get to the playoffs.

And Steve Garvey will always be a Dodger.

Back to the my dilemma.

The dilemma I have is that while I am a true blue Dodger fan, I am also a baseball fan. I love baseball. Baseball is poetry. Those that don't like baseball don't understand that most of the action is happening between pitches. They also don't understand how vitally important baseball has been to our country, from Babe Ruth's Yankees, to Jackie Robinson's Dodgers, to all of baseball after 9-11. From the sandlot to the neighborhood parks, baseball is timeless and distinctly American.
“In our sundown perambulations of late through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing ‘base,’ a certain game of ball ... Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms...the game of ball is glorious.” - Walt Whitman


It is a glorious game, poetry and all, which leads me to my point. The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series for exactly 100 years this year. A century without a championship. The Red Sox have won 6 times since then. Would it not be poetic for the Cubs to win after 100 years, to end The Curse of the Billy Goat? One hundred years is a good round number, fitting of a Hollywood scripted feel good moment. It seems like it would be good for baseball for the Cubs to win the 2008 World Series. Maybe even good for America, as baseball is always timely in this way, reminding us that there is always hope, always time for a new beginning, always a chance for victory and renewal.

I think God loves baseball. I don't actually believe in these baseball superstitions, but as a baseball fan, the Red Sox ending the "Curse of the Bambino" by beating the Yankees in The House that Ruth Built after being down 0-3 in the ALCS seemed magical. That was the way it had to happen, as if it were ordained to be done so. Yankee Stadium is being torn down this year, and maybe that's okay now that the Curse is reversed.

Wrigley Field, Home of the Chicago Cubs, is now the oldest ballpark in the National League. It has only seen one World Series in 1945, and no championships. It should never be torn down, at least not until it has seen a World Series Champion.

So, can I root for the Cubs against the Dodgers this week in the National League Playoffs? I don't know. It is a dilemma, two teams with equal shades of blue, steeped in history and importance. I suppose I'll have to see how my heart reacts when its over.

Either way, I'm rooting for the winner of this series to win it all starting next week.

I love baseball.

SCF
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