Friday, December 03, 2010

A Belated Happy Thanksgiving to the SoSG Readers

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.

56 comments:

Mr. Customer said...

Good stuff, Sax. A good friend and I have a running conversation regarding this year and karma, that if we can just get through to the end with our dignity (such as it is), a measure of good fortune will come our way next year. While this may or may not be true, It's December and I have a job, a family, friends, and a place to live, which is more than many can say.

This year sucked on a number of different levels for me, too. It seemed like every pessimistic thought I had eventually came true. That said, there have been bright spots in some very unexpected places. Enough to make me hope that I'll look back on 2010 as the beginning of the next great thing, not the end of the last one.

Mr. Customer said...

Not so off-topic: RIP Ron Santo.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Great post, Sax. It really puts things into perspective.

Fred's Brim said...

Thank you, Saxamaphone. I am sorry for all of the crap that has happened to you and your family. I know it will get better. As for me, apart from the stinkin Dodgers, things have been very good. They have stunk before and they will stink again, so I can deal with it. But the Mr C-like pessimist in me assumes that the other things will turn and turn hard at some point. I will try to enjoy things until then.


and props for the Trojan line!

Dusty Baker said...

Excellent perspective, Sax. Best thing I've read all morning. But then again, my morning reading consists of depressing and frustrating COngressional and administration news.

I, too, have had an incredibly difficult year, in terms of work and of family illness and loss and just general, downright, shitassed fortune. At the same time, my family has had some wonderful moments that created lasting memories (not of Kevin Malone, though). And I met a lot of new friends along the way, too. I guess the league commissioner in life has achieved that parity he's always sought.

The problem is that besides my love for the game of baseball itself, I've also always seen it -- used it -- as a way to ease the pain life deals out. But when the season itself is so painful, its healing powers can be limited. But there's always next season, no? To this point, just last night I asked MDIL if there was a stadium tour in the offseason so that I could just be in the Yard and feel its soothing power. I need to see baseball seats, empty as they may be. I need to see the LFP. I need to gaze upon a scoreboard, even if it's not lit up with hits and runs and pitching speed. I want to see the green, green grass to which our players will return next year, bringing hope for a better season and smiles to the faces of so many loyal fans like we. And I want to use correct but poor-sounding grammar.

So yeah, let's slam the fuckin' door on 2010 already. Thanks but no thanks, you double-zeroed, Beverly Hills zip code reminiscent no good, dirty calendar year! Here's to 2011, and not soon enough.

And, Sax, hang in there, man. We need you for a spot start in the rotation, and we're counting on you.

rbnlaw said...

Well done Saxy. I hope you got the manager at the 24hr a Starbucks gift card or something. I might not have, but it's definitely the type of thing I think of doing in hindsight. Sort of like donating my chicken dinner gift card (courtesy of my Assassin's Circle victory) to someone who can really use it.

I find that San Francisco offers great comfort from the cold in its many cozy bars with roaring hearths and fantastic beer selection.

Dusty Baker said...

I almost forgot:

Screw you, Qatar!

rbnlaw said...

I also have to say that I can certainly relate to years of loss, sickness, and misery, but 2010 has been somewhat OK for us. We celebrated an 80th and 100th birthday in the family, and everyone was relatively healthy (my liver included).

The economy hit us with depleted income, but hell, who wasn't affected? I'm not usually a big believer in one year being more or less special than another, but I can see where it happens. So, yeah, out with the old; in with the new, and raise a glass of cheer in the meantime.

rbnlaw said...

and yes, FUCK QATAR. Why don't you use some of those millions to BUY A FUCKING VOWEL, CHEAPSKATES!!!!

USA-USA-USA-USA-USA!!!!!!!!!

rbnlaw said...

and since I'm feeling verbose, I'll dovetail on Dusty's post.

Every time I post, I get to see my avi of me and the boy making our way to the beloved loge section of DS. Last year, the lack of spending cash kept us away from the Stadium for family outings. I got to exactly one game, and that was because I was given tickets by a friend who's a season ticket holder. My avi reminds me of just how much my kids love going to the park (and the Team Store)and taking in a game.

There is a limited healing quality in attending a baseball game that I'm sure the English find in attending footy matches as well. Being with the crowd, cheering on your team, and living or dying with every pitch. It allows us to escape a while and focus on nothing more than task at hand; beating the hated rival. I vow to get there more in 2011.

Don't call it a comeback.

QuadSevens said...

Well put Sax. Keep your head up, because 2011 will be better. It has to be.

My 2010 wasn't all bad. The Dodgers season kinda sucked, but I did meet my current girlfriend early in the year. She surprised me with a midseason tour of Dodger Stadium! She's a keeper.

This blog has provided hours and hours of fun. Puzzles, game threads (next day reading for me), contests like Assassin's Circle, and more.

Like the rest of you, I hope to get to more games next year. And I look forward to more fun with all the readers and Sons of SoSG next year. I raise my glass of scotch to you all. Cheers!

Dusty Baker said...

@RBN

I always like your avi because I know exactly where that stretch of sidewalk is, and cracked as the sidewalk may be, and as much of a slog uphill as it may be, and as nearby to dangerous traffic as one's child may be, that walk represents the hope and excitement that the day's (or night's) game brings to all who make it. Off in the distance, the Think Blue sign. And rising up from the (needing repair) asphalt is the Yard. Yeah, I love that walk.

Dusty Baker said...

7777 up in dis bish!

Dusty Baker said...

On the bright side of things:

We've got Vinny!!!

Fred's Brim said...

I am vowing to get to the yard in 2011 and I hope I can meet some of you there. I am looking at something in June or July when we still have hope for the season. I have been to too many games at Shea in late August when there isn't much hope left - not fun in so many ways (screw you, Brad Penny).

Dusty Baker said...

@FB

Maybe you should look for something in April or May, then.

KIDDING! I'm optimistic for the season! Don't kill me, Karina!

Dusty Baker said...

Speaking of Our Lady of Perpetual Optimism, Karina is taking her TOEFL test as we speak. Let's all wish her best of luck!

Mr. Customer said...

Good luck, karina! (yet again, but who couldn't use a little more luck?)

Steve Sax said...

@rbnlaw 8:33a: Funny you should mention that. I returned home on a long transcon flight last evening at 9p, and on my way home I spun by the airport USPS station to mail that club manager a little gift and thank you note. Laws of karma (and common decency) dictate as much, right?

And as for the rest of you, thanks for the kind comments, for reflecting on your own 2010s (both good and bad), and for sticking with us. I'm getting my blogging mojo back, slowly recovering from that gut punch.

Being stuck on a long flight with wifi access helps lead to rambling posts like this one, as well...

rbnlaw said...

Great minds, Sax.

DB,
Nice take on "The Walk." Of course, most of the time, I'm dragging my boy so we can get to our seats, and I can get a $12 beer.


. . .he always gets a Dodger Dog. I'm not an abusive parent.

karen said...

Thank you Saxy, very well done. 2010 has indeed been a bumpy one in my home as well. Working on top of caring for an ageing mother and special needs daughter have proven very challenging.

Even though 2010 was an ugly year as a Dodger fan, I really enjoyed all of my time "playing" with all of you here and am looking forward to a winning 2011 both on and off the field.

MR. F said...

Everyone in dis bish is so awesome!

Mr. Customer said...

^Yay, us!

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

I know I'm awesome. I'm not convinced about the rest of you though.

Spanky said...

You're the coolest, Saxy. All Y'all are Cool. Except Lasorda. Not Cool.

rbnlaw said...

And Qatar. Definitely not cool.

FUCK QATAR!

Mr. Customer said...

Agreed. Futbol without liquor and prostitutes is nothing but soccer.

Neeebs said...

@Sax:

Come down yonder and give me a MAN HUG.

You guys keep our little community thriving in good times and in bad times.

Dusty Baker said...

Oh I think one can get hookers and coke one would fancy in Qatar. It's just the booze that's hard to come by. Hypocrites! Fuck Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, too.

Pistol Pete Reiser said...

I've taken a "oh well, it'll get better" approach to 2010. Largely, it sucked for a lot of people (understatement of the day), but I got lucky - healthy wife and kids and I'm employed, I shouldn't complain, and hope I don't.

Our Dodgers needs their Dodgers fans. It's why I came out of hiding after watching this blog from the cheap (and anonymous) seats for a long, long time. It's important. It's something to rally around and uplift us, not to be bickered over through legal representatives in some sterile, wood-paneled courtroom.

But, it's gotta get better.

My best thoughts and wishes to your family, too, truly.

Dusty Baker said...

*group hug for Saxy*

*pinches Josh ass while he's in the hug*

Mr. Customer said...

@dusty

Fuck that. I don't want to take any chances that Stevie is going to stoned (geologic, not pharmacological) at some point during the tourney. Better safe than sorry, I say.

Dusty Baker said...

Well said, Pistol Pete! Well said.

Dusty Baker said...

@ mr C

No, it'll be a hammy that gets Stevie G down.

Dusty Baker said...

Ps - can we put the sword to Lasorda?

I want to kill Kill KILL!!!

Mr. Customer said...

@Dusty

No hammy in Qatar, brother. It's not halal.

Mr. Customer said...

Never mind that there's no way this group of guys will be there in 2022, but the point stands.

rbnlaw said...

Jack Wilshire will be 30 in 2022. The lack of pubs in Qatar will be discouraging to him and his fellow Englanders.

rbnlaw said...

T-minus 30 minutes to beer.

Dusty Baker said...

T+ 2 hours for beer. Had some seasonal offerings for lunch on my day off.

Wandered through a sporting goods shop in a mall. They had Juan Pierre t-shirts for sale, and they weren't discounted. I ain't no sucka.

Dusty Baker said...

Pack of Cards dealth good hand. Passes physical and signs a 1-year, $3.8 million contract. He's flush.

Mr. Customer said...

Presumably straight, too, but you never know...

Dusty Baker said...

Stat lickers are going nuts about the Barajas contract. Jeesh, you'd think Kuo was warming up too many pitches in the bullpen on a night he wasn't scheduled to pitch or something.

Steve Sax said...

Who is Pack of Cards?

And are stat guys disliking or liking the Barajas deal? Given Martin as the alternative (and thankfully not AJ Pierzynczxckynmytzlplyki, why would we hate Rod?

Dusty Baker said...

Barajas en Espanol, roughly, means "pack of cards." Alternately, we sometimes refer to him as "Tarjeta," which means card.

Stat guys are whining that we overpaid. Bellyaching started nanoseconds after the news was announced.

Dusty Baker said...

Personally I don't hate Rod. I love Rod. Hear that - I love Rod!

^ Heh...He said he loves rod.

Dusty Baker said...

I think someone needs to take Jay Jaffe's shoestrings away from him.

Dusty Baker said...

Where is MLASC to taunt these folks when we need him?

Spanky said...

I guess the stat-lickers would rather had paid Martin 6 million than 3 million to Tarjetas. I like this signing for some reason.

Viva La Raza!!

And everyone else's tambien.

Dusty Baker said...

Exactly what Spanky said. Especially the La Raza point - bring dis shit home to LA!

In Rod we trust. LFP represent.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Did someone light the MLASC signal? Where's Commissioner Orel? My enemies are at it again!

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

As I said on SoCal Sports Hub (no plug intended), I think signing Barajas is insurance against losing Martin to another team. I highly doubt he would be the every day starter; the most plate appearances he's ever had was 460 in 09. They'll either sign someone to back him up or platoon him with Ellis.

Dusty Baker said...

Yeah I put up the signal but since you were pimpin over at The Hub, we ended up having to send The Tick and Arthur over to take on the stat lickers.

Dusty Baker said...

Sorry OT but don't know where to put this. Here's an obit for all you puzzlers out there:

http://tinyurl.com/25ypkn7

Dusty Baker said...

I wish that Blogger had a "Like" function for posts to register our support. Just re-read this one.

Spanky said...

^Like