Notes on the Year of Magical Thinking

At the start of the season, I wrote this. The following is a follow-up personal essay.

Fuck. That’s the Dodgers’ 2010 season in a nutshell. It just fucking sucked. It sucked more than anything that has ever sucked before.

There was the complete failure of the team. There was the meltdown from the bullpen (mostly from its misuse by Joe Torre). There was the team infighting, between management and players. There was the awful starting pitching, the horrible regressions of every good player and yet another year by James Loney where he failed to be anything but below-average for his position. Let’s not even get into the horribly embarrassing divorce of the owners.

And then there was the personal stuff. I lost my dad October of last year. I lost my job in April. The latter was likely because of the former.

I was delusional heading into the season. Maybe we all were. Dodger fans, that is. We all had a lot of hope for this team and there was good reason. The team came off a 99-win pythag season. The two key players they lost were Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf. Both were three-win players. Yeah there was an impending divorce, but this wasn’t rocket science. Even replacement players and some marginal regressions would put the team at about 90 wins. Plus, the team got rid of Juan Pierre.

But then the season happened.

The game I remember the most was the Yankees-Dodgers game from June 27. You probably remember it too. Dodgers had a 4-run lead going into the 9th inning. The one guy that had been lights out in the bullpen all season amid such tumultuous performances came in and blew the game. Joe Torre kept Broxton in, even though Broxton clearly didn’t have it that night, for 48 pitches–just enough to lose the lead.

And then just to add insult to injury, Robinson Cano, the guy I’d been praising all year long, smacked the game-winning two-run homer in the 10th inning.

That’s when the facade just fucking crumbled. The team’s pythag magic disappeared. They were down to just above .500. All hope and glimmer faded quickly. Talks of “if the Dodgers do this, they’ll win the division” turned into “if the Dodgers win this game, they’ll still be in contention” turned into “if the Dodgers win this series, they have a fighting chance.” The season died a horrible, horrible death.

I was at that game, the June 27th one. I was keeping score as usual. And just as Broxton started blowing it, two Yankees fans, a boy of about 8 and his dad, moved up to the seats behind me and my mom. He cheered Robinson Cano and mocked the Dodgers. This game was fine, losing was fine, but this kid was it. My insides roiled with hatred for him and his awful father and their sweet little happy moment they got to share. I was so mad I even wrote a post the next morning saying Joe Torre should be let go after this season.

We’re symbolic creatures, maybe that’s what separates us from the animals. It took me a while to realize what that anger was all about and why it was about some kid and his dad.

This year wasn’t about disappointment or failed expectations (for me at least). There was still some part of me that, even faced with contrary evidence, believed I would still experience something magical this year. The 2010 season was about cold hard reality knocking sense into me, and that happened at the exact moment that kid moved to the seats behind me. The Dodgers weren’t contenders. I’d never get to experience a game with my dad again. Both were statements of fact.

And after accepting that, everything was OK. It was tough to accept, yes. But the season moved on. The rest of the year was easy to handle after that, including all major holidays and birthdays. My grief had turned into just sadness.

As for baseball, I would make new memories. And these memories–with family and friends and associates–I’d get to tell my kids about them.

My sister became pregnant in 2010. It was easily the best news of the year. She’s now 8 months in and is due in exactly a month, Nov. 4, 2010 (fun fact: she was born Nov. 6, 1980, both of which are/were election days). The baby’s name will be Alana, after my dad’s name. She’ll be the first of her generation.

I’m looking forward to being an uncle. I’m looking forward to taking her to baseball games (and maybe coaching her in Little League) and telling her of the Jacksonville Five, the Matt Kemp/Clayton Kershaw years, and the other history and minutiae I experienced. Just as my dad did before me and his dad before him.

And thinking about that makes me the happiest I’ve been in years. That’s what I get to take out of this season.



Filed under miscellaneous

7 responses to “Notes on the Year of Magical Thinking

  1. TD

    Hey, I almost never comment on anything, but I was moved by this. It made the pain of this season (and onward) seem pretty darn insignificant for me. I’m sorry for your loss.

    I became an uncle 2 years ago last week and again two months back. One of the best things that has ever happened to me and it just keeps getting better. The 2 year old already likes to swing a bat at a tee and then run in circles. May not sound like much but it absolutely blows me away to see. Hope you have as much fun with the experience as I’m having.

  2. DodgersKings323

    If Kemp gets bashed to hell and has a bad year, but still leads the team in HR and RBI, what does that say about Ethier and Loney?

    • DodgersKings323

      Don’t forget the douple play that could have ended that game, lucky for me we were at the Saturday game getting mooned by Yankee fans and watching them all get angry and get thrown out.

      • Yeah, let’s just not think about that right now.

        Just wanna say thanks for posting here all year long, it’s cool having someone to banter with back and forth about the season. Hope you’re around for the break.

  3. DodgersKings323

    Let me tell ya another story that i heard around that Yankee series. I think it was on Dodger Thoughts….this guy said he asked about 6 or 7 Yankee “fans” sitting around him if they were Knicks fans…..
    they said no….
    he asked if they were from New York ….
    they said no….
    he asked them if they were LAKER fans….
    some said yes…..
    don’t you just love that?
    This is a nice blog, i’ll try to get the word out.

    • DodgersKings323

      Ahhh and just recently at the Phillies series there were these girl Philly fans who we were all taking jabs at during the game. Late the Phils were winning and they were pretty drunk and the bickering was going back and forth until one of them said “but i’m a Laker fan too!!” hahaha and i said “of course you are bandwagon, Go home!” They did leave early and some guy says “Philly is garbage that’s why you’re all here” 🙂

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