This is what life is about.
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Yes. Oh, yes. I love this time of year. The days are longer, the pollen is in the air and there are little buds of future flowers everywhere you look. For the past few years and every year at this time, we have a couple of ducks (I think they may be married but I don’t know for certain) that fly into my backyard daily and take a bath in my pool at around 4 p.m.
Spring has sprung! And with the promise of all these amazing gifts from nature, comes the reminder that Opening Day soon will be here.
Even the drama of the McCourts’ divorce can’t bring down my baseball spirits. Because even though I obviously want my team to do well, this is the one time of the year that it’s not about my team winning or losing. It’s about walking into my home stadium, after months of a cold winter, and relishing in the hope of a new season.
The buds will bloom. The gates will open.
The frogs will chirp. The bats will crack.
The birds will fly. The balls will soar.
And for this time, right now, before any loss or statistic is recorded, my team… is the best in the league.
P.S. My new show, “Romantically Challenged,” will premiere on April 19th on ABC at 9:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. CT). I am both nervous and excited. I hope you love it and it makes you giggle.
What I’ve learned about the playoffs and the Word Series is to be very, very excited. But not too excited.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the postseason. I do. And it’s not that I don’t recognize the majesty of St. Louis Cardinal Jack Clark taking Tom Niedenfuer deep in Game 6 of the 1985 National League Championship Series. And it’s not that I don’t long to see the Dodgers win a World Series again. But the truth is, part of who wins that classic matchup is based on the same factors as who wins a regular-season game — skill, smart managing, the ability to bounce back, and luck. That’s what makes the game great.
Still the notion that postseason games are somehow more important, or more pressure-packed, or more, I don’t know, special than a contest in the middle of May, or July, or even April, obscures a larger truth, which is this: Every game is special, and it’s how a player performs in each game, and in every game, that determines his success, not how he plays in one series.
For years, I had pretty limited postseason experience (quite limited actually), but like so many fans before me, I learned the risks of postseason exuberance the hard way in the fall of 2008. I found myself an adult in a whole new baseball situation as I watched my Dodgers win a postseason series and move on to the NLCS. We hadn’t won a postseason series since 1988, when I was just fifteen, but I had always appreciated postseason ball. It was fun to watch the games of the fall even if my heart wasn’t emotionally invested in the teams that were playing. I could really just sit back and appreciate the fundamentals at their best.
Last fall proved different. I wasn’t just invested in who won, I was all in. I sat in my seat with a white-knuckled, sweaty-palmed death grip on whatever I was holding at the time. Every pitch meant something. Every out. Every managerial move. Every call by the ump. The fans were alive. They stood when there were two outs and two strikes, waving those rally towels as if they possessed magical powers to make the batter strike out. “Throw him the chair!” my brother screamed. Translation: “Sit him down.”
As you might expect, losing to the Phillies in the NLCS last year was devastating. My brother and I were inconsolable. As lame as it might sound, a little piece of my heart broke that night. An even bigger piece of my brother’s heart broke that night. The game that we were eliminated in was at Dodger Stadium, and we stayed for about an hour after the last out. In that hour, players came out for curtain calls and blew kisses to the fans that were still there. I would say over a thousand fans stayed, and we were a rowdy bunch. Frank McCourt and his lovely wife stuck around. A chant started. “Please sign Manny.” Clap, clap. Clap, clap, clap. “Please sign Manny,” the Dodgers fans shouted.
Nomar came out of the dugout, and the crowd erupted in applause and cheers. He waved and put his hand over his heart paying tribute to us fans. He took a long look around, soaking up the moment, his moment. It seemed like he was saying good-bye to the stadium; I hoped he wasn’t saying good-bye to baseball. Tommy Lasorda said a few words into a microphone. He thanked “the best fans in baseball.” He finished up his speech by saying, “When you lay your head down on the pillow tonight, say a prayer for Tommy and the Dodgers.” It was a vivid moment, and while we reached a disappointing end, there was something strangely uplifting about the whole scene.
As we were walking to the car, I saw daddies holding sleepy kids with their baseball gloves still on, draped over their father’s backs. I found solace in the idea that even though we weren’t moving on to the World Series, memories were made that night. The children of the fans from ’88 had their own stories to tell. A whole new generation of Dodger fans got to experience NLCS baseball for the first time. And who knows, maybe one of these years we’ll actually win.
I recently heard the following on NPR. I highly recommend it to all baseball fans.
I married my best friend on Aug. 15 and I’ve truly never been happier. He is a beautiful person and I’m blessed to have found him.
He does have one minor, itsy bitsy, flaw though — he’s a diehard Yankees fan. Ah well, no one’s perfect. I’ve chosen to overlook this because he just makes me so damn happy.
I know what your next question will be. I can hear you think it.
I have no freaking clue. I may have to move back in with my parents for a while. Just writing that last sentence made me giggle. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Please accept my apologies for not updating my blog in a while. Between my wedding, honeymoon and being in preproduction for “Romantically Challenged”, I have had my hands full of excitement. Oh wait, did I tell you that “Romantically Challenged”, was picked up for midseason? It was! This has been an overwhelming year. I am blessed.
If you are going to be in the Chicago area on September 11th, please come see me here:
FansEdge Store (at The Shops at Northbridge)
5 p.m. to 6 p.m. CT
55 E. Grand Avenue
Now a question for all of you Dodger fans:
What are your thoughts on getting Padilla, Sherrill, Belliard, Thome and Garland? Please leave your thoughts for me.
For me, I think Ned Colletti has done a solid job of adding the depth. My concern (and if you remember, I’ve voiced this concern since the offseason) is that we won’t get very far in the postseason without an ace to set the tone.
If you allow yourself to be open to the struggles of humanity, it can sometimes be difficult to remain hopeful and positive. I try to educate myself on what is going on in the world. I try to remember that as I type away, in the comfort of my sitting room, with my A/C and chai latte, there are many things simultaneously occurring that are unfathomable and devastating. I try to remind myself daily of how blessed I am. I’m pretty good at remaining grateful. I can look at my family, friends and animals, and know that they are all a reflection of what is good in life.
It might seem weird that I’m starting a post about the All-Star Game with the above paragraph, but honestly, my experience at the All-Star Game always invokes a feeling of gratitude. It is a reminder that, not only am I blessed to be given the opportunities bestowed upon me, but also that I am blessed to have been born into this country.
Baseball is an escape for me. I get lost in it. Baseball is the coming together of unlike minds for a like purpose. Every moment before a pitch is thrown has its own pulse. Looking at a field and seeing all the greats in the game, in all their shapes and sizes–their different cultural backgrounds, history and cellular make up–is a reminder that anyone, from anywhere, can play the game of baseball. You don’t have to be seven feet tall or seven feet wide. It is the Everyman’s sport. Regardless of any controversy that surrounds baseball, this is what I think of when I look at all the greats on one field.
I had a beautiful time in St. Louis.
So thank you, St. Louis. Thank you, Busch Stadium. Thank you, MLB. Thank you, Ryan Howard. Thank you, G-iii Sports. Thank you, Aminco.
But most of all, thank you to those who came to meet me. I’m well aware that without your support not only of the clothing line, but also of me, none of these baseball experiences would be possible.
I am blessed. And I am grateful.