After Joan Didion’s short-story “Goodbye to All That“
It’s easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with the clarity that makes the nerves on the back of my neck constrict, when the 2010 season started for me. An airy breeze welcomed us into Dodger Stadium on Oct. 15, 2009. The Dodgers lost and the Dodgers’ owners announced they were getting a divorce. The Dodgers lost the series in five quick, forgettable games and we all brushed it off so easily, there will–or would–be a next year and the Dodgers would probably repeat the NL West championship. Things happen and hope springs eternal; this I was led to believe and understand.
A year later, some beer swirling at the bottom of a bottle, staring down the bottle neck, some song playing on my iTunes that sang “I wanted love, I needed love, most of all; most of all …” The world unwound itself. I now know that everyone comes to this conclusion, that what we were told isn’t always true. One of the mixed blessings of being 20 or 21 or even 23-year-old is the conviction that your team, the team you’ve rooted for all your life, will some day reward you and that’ll be next year.
We spent the early parts of the off-season talking about how the Dodgers weren’t spending any money because of frozen assets and divorce proceedings, yada yada, and the later parts talking PECOTA cards, CHONE, ZIPS, other predictive functions that were mostly down on the Dodgers. This wasn’t right, we all said. The Dodgers were a 99-pythag win team in 2009, we said, and even with their two off-season losses (Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson), they were still a 93-win team.
In retrospect, those were the best days of the season. Nothing was irrevocable and stats seemed to be in our favor. Just after every win was a turn around the corner, a winning streak on the way and the possibility that the Dodgers are going to finally be that team that defies pythag records.
But … nah. 2010 was the worst year in the Dodgers’ franchise history. Some mixed signals early in the season got the Dodgers to a better record than they should have. The early season was as volatile as it was fascinating, and the middle parts were as depressing as they were hard to watch. The divorce and the big reveals that took place on a week-to-week basis–from using team money to finance personal lifestyle to hiring Russian healers to plans to run for the President of the United States–twisted the knife. The final death rattle was the Giants winning the World Series.
Of course it could have been some other city to get lucky this year. It could have been the Rangers. It could have been the Phillies again. But it was the Giants and some few days later I’ve come to realize some things are irrevocable.