Yes, the team is struggling right now. And yes, I get frustrated by the inexplicable losses – just like everyone else. But that frustration doesn’t define my love for the team, just like winning a World Series wouldn’t. In thinking about how I was going to respond to Sunday’s game, I thought back to why I love the Dodgers and decided to share that story with all of you.
I became a fan because of my grandmother. She passed away last year, and following is the text of the short speech I gave at her memorial service:
One of the things that my grandmother and I shared was a love of baseball; specifically Vin Scully and the Dodgers. I was a huge sports fan growing up and we both appreciated great writing and storytelling, no matter what the sport. In fact, my grandmother was the one who turned me on to my favorite sports columnist, the late Jim Murray.
When I was away in high school, in college and even after college, Gmom would cut out the best sports articles from the LA Times and Wall Street Journal, date them and then mail them to me. “Isn’t it great to see the Dodgers getting off to a good start – well, a promising one anyway,” she wrote one April. “A day game today, so I’ll be listening.” These notes usually arrived with a book of stamps or a postcard – a not so subtle hint to write back.
When I’d go visit her, we would talk about how the team and Vin were doing, and she would tell me stories about the seats she and Grandad had at the LA Coliseum, and then later at Dodger Stadium, in the first row over the dugout. He also shared her love for baseball.
I’m not really sure how it started, but several years ago, we decided that we should go to a Dodgers game together. I distinctly remember inviting her as my treat, but somehow Gmom managed to turn it around and try and take me to the game by slipping me a check. Whenever I would ask her how she was doing, or if she was warm enough, she’d always grab my hand, give it a good squeeze, flash her trademark smile and deliver one of her favorite lines: “Better than ever.”
I don’t know who looked forward to those games more, and every time I saw her she would ask me when we were going again. After that first game, we tried to go once a year for maybe four or five years.
One of the most remarkable things about each trip to Dodger Stadium was that I never once saw her go to the bathroom, even after three plus hours! But that was Gmom – elegant and dignified no matter what the occasion.
The last time we went, just a couple of years ago, it was an evening game. Once we were settled in our seats, I asked Gmom what I could get her to eat or drink. Frankly, I wasn’t really sure what her answer was going to be. She thought about it for a second and said, “You know, I’d like a hot dog and a beer. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a hot dog and a beer.”
When I think back to those games, I’m reminded of the traits that we all saw in Gmom everyday: her generosity, her dignity, her appreciation of a great game or story, and most importantly, her love for an adventure with her grandchildren.
I love watching Dodgers games today because it reminds me of my relationship with my grandmother, and how much closer we became by discussing the team’s annual achievements and struggles. As in life, there will be ups and downs, but for me, it’s about the long-term journey and what’s gained along the way.
So take heart, fellow Dodger fans, and remember why you love the team. It’s all about perspective.