Being a Dodgers fan is a lot like being in an abusive relationship that you just refuse to leave. You know that you are setting yourself up for disappointment, yet you refuse to let go. Eventually, the breakup ends up being painful, and letting go takes a while. Seeing someone else is just impossible afterwards, at least for a while.
Seeing someone else fiddle with what you feel is yours during a championship series sometimes hurts too much to even watch. It doesn?t even matter how much you respect the Yankees or the Red Sox. It doesn?t even matter how big of a baseball fan you are. It just doesn?t feel the same unless it?s blue uniforms in the dugout.
That?s the way that millions of fans have felt for the last 16 years, since the true-blue team won its last World Series. Since then, Dodgers fans have had to deal with one disappointment after another. For the better part of the past 16 years, the Dodgers have stayed close in the playoff race, giving fans just a small smidgen of hope that this year might be the year. Alas, every season seems to end entirely too soon for Dodgers fans.
But like in most abusive relationships, both sides tend to be damaging to the other, and the relationship between Dodgers fans and their beloved team is no exception.
Time and again, fans have exited the game even before the organ plays the traditional ?Take Me Out to the Ball Game.? So many fans leave their seats and head out to the parking lot that you would think the lyrics said, ?Take me out of the ball game.?
And yet the relationship between the fans and their team is as passionate at times as that of newlyweds. Sorry, Angels fans, but there is nothing like Dodger blue.
For anyone who has attended a Dodgers game, this is easy to understand. There is a level of enthusiasm that is beyond comparison. Going to Dodgers stadium is much more than going out to watch a ballgame. It?s shouting and yelling, cheering for the Dodgers and teasing the adversaries. It?s tossing around a 99-cent beach ball and seeing how many times the human wave will circle around the stadium before it breaks apart. It means making nonsense commentary to the fat guy drinking a beer behind you. Few teams can boast of such a relationship with their fans.
The relationship that Dodgers fans have with their team is indeed a special one.
That is why this year?s loss is especially heartbreaking to so many fans. It had been nine years since the Dodgers clinched the National West title, earning them a spot to compete for a chance at the World Series. It had been 16 years since they had won a postseason game, and Dodgers fans were yearning badly for one this year.
So when Jose Lima pitched an entire game and shut out the Cardinals in Game Three of the series, Dodgers fans were once again teased with the prospect of a National League Championship Series. As the last Cardinal was knocked out in the ninth inning, Chavez Ravine roared and thundered like few have seen before. Fans across the bleachers ran from one corner to another to hug complete strangers in the middle of the celebration.
Lima was the player who brought the fans and the Dodgers back to their honeymoon. Every time he approached the mound, over 56,000 fans yelled his name. Twice, he was called out onto the field to receive a standing ovation.
Other players received similar acknowledgement. Even though third baseman Adrian Beltre batted 1-4, struck out twice, and ended with a 4-15 in the postseason, fans would not stop yelling, ?MVP,? every time he approached the plate. Even now, they ask for the title for their third baseman.
The honeymoon was sweet for Dodgers fans and their team on Saturday.
But the honeymoon ended on Sunday.
Once shortstop Alex Cora struck out on Sunday, those dreams of a ?happily ever after? were dashed.
Considering the Cardinals? dominating record in the National League this season, it was not really a surprise that the Dodgers would come out early again this year, even with the glimmer of hope provided by Lima.
Even with 53 come-from-behind wins this season, Dodgers fans expected it. And yet, it remains devastating. Bad relationships tend to be that way.
But for a short while, the relationship was sweet. Even after coming back with two straight losses and possible elimination, fans welcomed back the Dodgers like an injured sweetheart back from a war.
In their first home game of the postseason on Saturday, fans filled the stadium almost halfway during batting practice. This is not the type of treatment that the Dodgers are used to, considering that many of their fans don?t show up until about the fourth inning.
Like a bad date, many fans arrive late and leave way too early. By the ceremonial first pitch, seats were filled and the stands became a sea of blue jerseys and baseball caps.
As old-time Dodgers announcer Rick Monday, ex-manager Tommy Lasorda, and ex-pitcher Fernando Valenzuela threw the official first pitch, fans cheered them on and screamed out their first names as if they were old friends.
Unfortunately, the last-minute support was not enough for the Dodgers. Although the team nabbed their first postseason victory in 16 years, they were unable to muster another. Fans will have to wait at least one more to year to see a second one.
The only thing left for fans to do is sit and watch, and hope that not much changes. Beltre is a free agent now, but Dodgers fans hope he stays with the blue boys. After losing catcher Paul Lo Duca, many fans are still holding a grudge.
But perhaps next season will be ?the one.? Maybe next season will be better than this. After all, spring is a great time to make up.