Like anyone my age, regardless of life path or background, I’ve lived a life full of ups and downs. It’s only been in my 40’s that I’ve been able to face those challenges with the right amount of strength and perspective, and this maturity, I feel, has even helped me thrive and become stronger the older I’ve become. In hindsight, I realize now that much of that strength of character has to do with finally having found my niche in life, and it’s allowed me a known outlet, an escape from these aforementioned challenges, and I have baseball to thank for that.
It’s always been so easy for me to stay optimistic and positive about this sport I love – one of the many reasons I love the institution of baseball is that it can be an escape from the often overwhelming sadness of the real world if you let it. And let it I did, with immense gratitude for the journey I was on, and the realization all along that I was exactly where I belonged.
Throughout the last 6 seasons especially, Dodgers baseball has become a ritual, a constant in my life, the one idea that has always been attached to optimism, no matter if the boys in blue were in the midst of a clubhouse spat in the Donnie days, or a losing streak, or if they had suffered a crushing playoff exit caused by poor bullpen management. It was just always there – even in the off-season; it was what I talked about with anyone who cared to listen, became an icebreaker on countless occasions when meeting new colleagues, new friends, new fans – many who live in another country yet who feel like family, and it helped me discover a writing talent I didn’t even know I possessed. Being a Dodgers fan defines who I am, and I truly believe it makes me a better, more understanding person. It is simply my passion, the fire that burns within me. Some souls are born to be parents, a spouse, a humanitarian, or a man/woman of faith.
I was meant to be a baseball fan.
Baseball will be back; as it stands at this moment in time, we just don’t know when. It’s a waiting game, and this is about so much more than sports right now, but as has been the case when life has gotten tough over the last 6 seasons, I will continue to draw on the hope and optimism that the Dodgers provide me to get me through this unknown.
I’ve known for a while now that I depend on baseball to keep the fire burning in me, and this is a completely unexpected reminder of just how much I rely on the game to help keep my life feeling normal. When you’ve already spent too many aimless years of your life looking for and finding the one thing that defines you, that truly sets your soul on fire, you just don’t want to waste another minute without it.
Years ago, in the immediate shock after the sudden death of former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay, I came across the loveliest post online from a grieving fan who had followed his career closely since his days in a Blue Jays uniform. In the post she expresses remorse for placing so much emotional stock in the game and specifically on how well Halliday performed on the field:
I am sorry to have assigned you so much responsibility. I’m sorry I so often looked to you to correct unrelated courses in my life. I’m sorry that I needed you to be great because I felt like I’d never be good.
It’s unwise to deify athletes. It’s childish, it’s simple, it’s a relic of a time when we didn’t know everything about everyone. It’s unlike me. It’s also the best part of me?—?that in some little, tiny way I am able to believe in someone. In spite of everything else, there is still a part of me able to think something can be great as well as good.
I saved this quote without making note of its author, who I would dearly love to credit, as I felt it spoke to me and any other baseball fan who has come to an understanding of how much we depend on the game to help us along in life. It reminded me of how emotionally invested I get in a Kershaw start, in a baseball series, in a season…and I will never have it any other way. I hope the author has since changed her mind about being sorry for leaning on the game so much, and that she’s come to the realization that this is her path in life…like I have.