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2021 Los Angeles Dodgers: Here Comes The Sun (Again)

On shifting perspective, and a new kind of hope .



The first time I remember hearing The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” was back early in the 1982 baseball season when the network who carried Expos games used it in a montage featuring highlights of two of their young studs, Terry Francona and Tim Wallach, and I’ve associated it with baseball ever since. The message, at least in the way I remember it almost 40 years later, was that this young talent was here and sunny days were ahead for the team and its fans.

When trying to come up with a way to put into words what Opening Day at Dodger Stadium meant to me as both a heavily emotionally invested fan and someone just trying to keep her head above water during a pandemic, the lyrics to this classic sprung to mind almost right away.

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

And I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

And I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces

Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

And I say it’s all right

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

And I say it’s all right


After what seemed like an endless stretch and grey skies and clouds here in my corner of the world, the sun came out on Friday, April 9 – just in time for Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, where the sun always seems to shine just a little brighter than anywhere else…especially this year. For as long as I can remember, baseball’s Opening Day has always been associated with a feeling of renewed hope, and this year, as we ever so cautiously allow ourselves to feel hope for a semblance of normalcy, the word ‘hope’ takes on new levels of meaning.

Certainly, a whole lot has changed since the last Opening Day with fans at Dodger Stadium when I visited for 6 glorious days and wrote about literally feeling on top of the world. Among many other things, our perspective has changed. We all like to think our priorities were in order before the pandemic, but we can’t deny that in at least some small way, they have been changed as well. Along with much of what used to fill our days with joy and a sense of purpose, as baseball fans, we also lost out on over 60% of the baseball season, of time spent with friends at the stadium, of trips to other ballparks, of a year making memories that we can never get back.

Perspective had already forever changed for me when I lost a loved one the week of the 2019 All-Star game, but then when the pandemic changed everything 8 months later, I, like much of the world, found myself in a new uncharted type of grief – over the loss of our old lives, of our previous selves, of much of what used to make us happy.

Baseball returning in late July, and an October fraught with the usual thrills, tension and anxiety of playoff baseball, was a lifeline to some semblance of normal and to happy moments. But, after the World Series ended, the long-isolated winter loomed large ahead of us with the continued uncertainty around the world surrounding the pandemic.


Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

When Julio Urias struck out Willie Adames and Joe Buck declared in the early morning hours (for me) of October 28 that the “Dodgers have won it all in 2020” there was a sense of relief among many other emotions, but for the most part, the hope and optimism ended not long after the initial round of celebrations. Due to pandemic restrictions, baseball in 2020 had been all about the business on the field, all about getting it done, but few fans if being honest could honestly say there had been a lot of “fun” away from the field during those 60 games —- no Dodger Stadium adventures, bar meet-ups with friends, or road trips to other stadiums.

After we celebrated (virtually for the most part) the greatest feeling a baseball fan can experience, a long, lonely winter and little optimism away from baseball awaited us, and without that lifeline of Dodgers baseball to light the way, the next wave of the pandemic brought with it the weight of sleepless nights, anxiety-filled thoughts, and what at times felt like an uncertain future.


Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces

Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

As I watch the ring ceremony and home opener from the newly renovated Dodger Stadium and practically feel the electricity and excitement from 3,500 miles away, I am immediately transported back think to 2 years ago and my trip to LA, and I can barely imagine being that pre-pandemic, carefree, optimistic, social person again. With the hope that Opening Day brings this year, though, I allow myself to welcome a new journey: to get back to my Happy Place and be that person again, without the heaviness of depression weighing me down.

We rarely get a second chance once we have suffered a great loss – another opportunity to do things right, to appreciate the moments, to feel gratitude for where we are in life, but this day provides a glimmer of hope that we get that second chance. It allows us to entertain the possibility that we will indeed return to at least a small part of who we were before March 2020, to return back to the days when our only concern in life was whether the Dodgers had won or not the night before, as we ache to go back to gathering with and hugging friends without talk of bubbles and social distancing, and to get started on the process of repairing friendships inadvertently paused or altered by forced isolation.

And most importantly, we want to get back to experience much of the good stuff that makes a baseball season feel complete: the energy of the crowd in a sold-out Dodger Stadium, watching a game at a bar with friends, to the sheer silliness of making fun of Padres fans who have made fools of themselves on social media, and back to petty arguments about Dave Roberts’ lineup construction and bullpen management.


Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear

I’ve described depression before as being out in deep water, knowing how to swim and that the logical thing to do is to swim to shore, but not being able to physically move your legs to be able to get started. Dealing with depression and having it compounded by social isolation during a pandemic where much of your world is changing, well that kind of pain is almost indescribable, and until Opening Day’s light-hearted feeling, I hadn’t even realized just how heavy it was.

Watching Clayton receive his ring on Opening Day and getting to witness the pure joy and elation he was obviously feeling was like a strong tidal wave pushing me safely towards shore. It was a profoundly cathartic experience for this fan; after seeing every pitch he’d throw since the spring of 2014, getting to witness how he’d grown as a pitcher and person during that time, while his very existence had inspired me numerous times to just keep swimming – the relief and joy felt in that moment was the culmination of years of worrying that it simply would never happen, that good things don’t always happen to good people.

But it did, because Clayton had proved to us that they indeed do, and in the moment when we were able to finally celebrate it, all in the world felt right for the first time in a very, very long time.

The experience of seeing the Dodgers play at home on a sunny day felt like mercifully swimming safely back to shore free of the weight previously holding us back, ready to enjoy the weightless days again; as Clayton himself had alluded to in spring training, you don’t always realize the weight of what you’re carrying while you’re carrying it.

And so we begin this season with a new purpose, less baseball-induced anxiety and perhaps a new kind of hope – that this season of our lives will be different than the last in any of the bad ways, and that just maybe, with the sunshine of days filled with Dodgers baseball lighting the way, we will allow ourselves to finally, fully allow ourselves to appreciate all of the good.

Sun, sun, sun…here it comes

Written by Gail Johnson

Biggest Dodgers fan north of the border, living about 3,500 miles from my beloved Boys In Blue, in Moncton, NB, Canada. I think Dodger Stadium is the happiest place on Earth. I'll catch up on my sleep in the off-season.

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