Obviously, this has not been a good year for Dodger fans.
It's one thing to follow up two years of back-to-back ever-so-close trips to the NLCS with an absolutely pathetic season, highlighted by heartbreaking blown saves in critical games, career-low offensive performances from players who were once franchise headliners and fan favorites, geriatrics fumbling around in the outfield, seemingly uninterested coaching, and a lackluster trading-deadline effort correctly auguring what proved to be a moribund second-half completely devoid of excitement.
(Not to mention an ugly ownership public spat, complete with details of such embarrassing excesses that are so disconnected from rank-and-file economic realities, that it makes it difficult for the average fan to root for either side in the divorce rather than rooting for the whole ball of wax to just go away.)
What's worse, obviously, is seeing our hated rivals find lightning in a bottle in late August, using the flukes of luck and timing and what hopefully are Foustian deals to squeeze out the city's first-ever World Series title. I mean, the flukiness of baseball is one of its more appealing attributes; and, to the Giants' credit, they were able to sustain a playoff run after a late-season surge, unlike the Rockies' attempts in years past.
(And by the way, to those of you who questioned my logic late last season when I implored Dodger fans to throw their support behind the Padres, who were due for their fateful 10-loss swoon that would doom their season and allow the Giants to make the playoffs: I TOLD YOU SO.)
As you've probably noticed from my lack of posting this month, it has been difficult to even type how awful this feeling is, reflecting on such an abyss of a season. I could only take solace in the fact that the Giants' clinching win came on the road in a World Series that saw record low television ratings. If the Giants win, and no one was there to see it, then maybe it didn't really happen, right?
But make no mistake, this year has been painful for Dodger fans. It's like a punch to the gut from your ex-girlfriend's brand-new, varsity-letter-jacket-wearing boyfriend who may be slightly better looking and taller than you but never did that well in school and may end up winning the girl but will likely end up working at the corner gas station and going bald early and struggling with ED and tearing up when he hears Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" play on the radio because it hits so damn close to home. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
Let me bring this even more personal, for a second (in as much as a pseudonym-concealed identity can afford). Adding to all of this woe has been what has to be one of the most difficult years I have ever had, from a personal level. My family is wonderful, my kids are great, my wife glorious--and I'm thankful and appreciative for all of those. But I've also been beset by more deaths and vicious maladies and unexpected setbacks to those I love, than I've ever experienced before in one calendar year. With every month, more bad news has emerged, sometimes from the most unassuming places that never before showed cracks but suddenly are corroding before one's eyes--it's absolutely unbelievable in its unrelenting barrage of depressing news. It's a series of unfortunate events like only Lemony Snicket could appreciate.
Now, I'm not complaining. I know I'm getting older and statistically this is bound to happen to one's circles of friends and family upon aging. The economy is extremely difficult, and tension and desperation abound. Strings of bad luck sometime find a way of playing out. I understand, and can rationalize this.
And all of this has had a fortunate by-product of reminding me to take pleasure in the smaller things that happen day-to-day that sometimes get missed among the hustle and bustle of all the other pressures in life.
But the truth remains that this has been a difficult year. I can't wait for 2010 to be over; 2011 can't start soon enough.
And that brings me to Thanksgiving. November had me in the unfortunate circumstance of being nearby every Giants fan I've ever known, and the yipping was unrelenting. I have kept a stiff upper lip and been gracious--even buying a World Series Champions sweatshirt to my misspent brother-in-law (who otherwise is a pretty good kid despite his absurd sporting allegiances). I've witnessed more ribbing over the last month than an inspector at the Trojan condom factory. And throughout, I've been (largely) gracious.
Thanksgiving was the apex of this ignominy, as I found myself up in the Bay Area for the long weekend. Bumping around San Francisco, I seethed seeing more Giants hats than ever before, with the unlikely World Series Championship (justaposed against the array of other pathetic professional sports teams) having brought out the fair-weather fans throughout the frigid city. And make no mistake, this city was frigid--there was frost on my car each morning, a sensation my little automobile had never experienced coming from more temperate climates.
It was so cold, I couldn't go running outside in the shorts and t-shirts that I had brought up. Weather reports had rains extending through the weekend, with ice forming every evening. So I called the manager at the local 24-Hour Fitness in the hopes that they would take pity on a poor SoCal boy.
Amazingly, he did.
The club manager with whom I talked on the phone ended up waiving the $20/day fee altogether (I had even agreed to pay for a day or two of my five-day stay), just saying "Hey, I believe in karma. It's the holidays, it's freezing cold outside, and you just want to work out. Enjoy." I got in five workouts over Thanksgiving, which served as welcome respites from inedible fruitcakes and comcast sports and inlaws asking for more grandchildren and kung fu panda marathons that evoked images of fat players stumbling around basepaths at signs of cake slices.
And I really, really, appreciated the manager's generosity. Honestly, in a year as depressing as this, after 11 months where I had grown accustomed to steeling myself for the worst outcome, this guy's noblesse was a truly unexpected beacon of light.
Maybe not all of San Francisco is unredeemingly horrible. Maybe 2010 won't end up as bad as I had thought. Maybe there is hope after all.
All of this to say, a belated Thanksgiving to all of you SoSG readers. I probably have not taken the time to thank all of you for sticking with us through a tough season of both on-field performance and off-field blogging. I know it's been a tough slog for all of us, over the past nine months in particular. But maybe better days are ahead. The Giants' fluky victory might be a cleansing, a once-every-fifty-years event that inspires the Dodgers' competitive fires appropriately, and gets Dodgers bloggers to find some new material beyond pictures of empty trophy cases. I can get new material (we'll always have Oyster Pubes to mock).
And I should give thanks for the bright spots that are here, especially since they've been eclipsed by some dark shadows. The bright spots are there.
And 2011 will be even better, right? There's no place else to go but up.