These are grim times my friends. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, the economy is in the worst shape since the Great Depression and, in California, we’re so broke that we’re letting prisoners out of jail early.
But, more importantly, the Dodgers have a commanding two games to none lead over the Cardinals in their National League Division Series! (If writing about baseball during a calamitous period in history appears shallow, please chalk it up to the curse of being a Dodger fan.)
Today the team flies to St. Louis for game three of the NLDS while the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I’ll never get used to that name) flies to Boston tomorrow for game three of their American League Division Series. In 47 years, the two franchises have never met in a World Series. The odds of that changing this season are extremely remote, but a guy can dream, can’t he? Sometimes it sure beats reality.
Speaking of reality, the Angels have met the Red Sox in the postseason four times in the last 30 years and have lost all four. In fact, they’ve only won a total of four games. The Dodgers have played the Cardinals twice in the playoffs, lost both times and won only three games. Plus, the Cardinals won five of the seven games this season. So would a sane person think there’s a chance of a freeway series (that’s assuming being a sports fan is a sane activity in the first place)?
But there is some historical optimism for the Dodgers. This season they won the Western Division of the National League for the second straight year. The last time they did that was in 1977 and 1978 and both times they went to the World Series. (They lost to the Yankees each time, but at least they got there.)
Or how about this for superstition? In 1988, the Lakers won the NBA championship and the Dodgers won the World Series (made possible by Kirk Gibson’s dramatic ninth inning home run against Oakland). Well, in 2009 the Lakers won another championship, so perhaps it’s an omen the Dodgers will follow suit (or an omen that I’ve lost my mind)?
I’ve only been to the World Series once, the Dodgers against the Orioles in 1966. I went with my divorced Aunt Amelia (aka Auntie Mame) about whom I’ve written before. Sandy Koufax was pitching which made it all the more exciting. (Sadly, it would be his last game and, as I look back, the signs of doom were there from the beginning.)
It started as we were going through the turnstiles. Amelia had inadvertently brought the wrong day’s tickets. Miraculously, I had gotten through the turnstile but she was stopped. I looked back and realized that I had a split-second decision to make: loyalty to my loving family or get to see Sandy Koufax pitch?
Before I take heat for having chosen Koufax, let me explain my thought process. The ticket taker was a man and Aunt Amelia was very flirtatious with men. I estimated the odds were excellent that she could talk her way out of this jam. Sure, I had no ticket, which meant that there would be no seat, but I was young and could stand the whole game. As far as getting home, I figured I could always hitchhike from Dodger Stadium. (This was three years before Charles Manson would make hitchhiking very unpopular.)
This was the infamous game where Dodgers centerfielder Willie Davis lost two fly balls in the sun, called off Ron Fairly on another (dropped in for a cheap hit) and later made a colossal throwing error. It was so ugly, that, in the seventh inning, when Davis caught a routine fly ball, the crowd burst into a huge, sarcastic cheer.
I didn’t have to hitchhike home because I eventually ran into Amelia who, sure enough, had talked her way into even better seats than we would have had. I quickly joined her but by then the game was essentially over. (Plus, she was understandably annoyed that I had abandoned her at the turnstile.)
So, in the memory of my beloved late aunt, I’m asking the baseball gods to deliver the Dodgers and Angels into the World Series. (It’s pathetic to be pulling out the “dead relatives” card, but perhaps it’s just another curse of being a Dodgers fan.)
If only one of the two teams can make it to the series, I hope it’s the Dodgers. (Let’s get real, Anaheim is not in Los Angeles!) And I hope that the Dodgers face the Yankees. Then we can all pretend it’s the 1950s again when we didn’t have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy was booming and prisoners stayed in jail. A guy can dream, can’t he?
When he isn’t sweating out a Dodger game, Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.