By Jon Weisman
I’ll admit to being a bit at a loss for words as I start this.
In part, that’s because I’ve said just about everything I want to say about the irrelevance of regular-season performance against a specific opponent when it comes to October (“Winning opponents: It just doesn’t matter”) as well as the slippery meaning of “winning opponents” as a concept (“How the Dodgers lose for winning”) I’m not a big fan of repeating myself.
I’ve only tangentially addressed the emotional aspect of Dodger fans watching their team lose nine of its first 11 against the Giants in 2015, but there might not be a lot to add there either, other than to remind people that it’s only bad until it gets good again — and it could get good again at any moment.
One year ago today, the 2014 World Champions lost their sixth straight game. By June 30, their National League West lead — 9 1/2 games earlier in the month — was gone. June was miserable for San Francisco, and look how things ended there.
Anyway, I’ve begun writing this piece in the seventh inning, with the Dodgers down, 6-2, and I’m going down this face-the-negative path even though I truly believe the Dodgers could come back and win the game by the time I finish, because we’re talking about baseball, not systemic poverty.
I saw “Inside Out” today, and really, you have to see this movie, because besides being fantastic on its own terms, it describes, without even intending to, the emotional musical chairs of being a baseball fan. It’s such a reactionary activity, and so natural to embrace those extremes, even though sometimes, it does us little good.
The quandary Dodger fans are in is this — they’re not just battling the uncertainty of this season, they’re bearing the psychological weight of Potential Year 27 Without a Title. No Dodger fan below the age of 87 (i.e., someone who was at least 27 years old in June 1955) has had it worse than the current generation.
Each additional tick of the clock without a title doesn’t anesthetize you to the pain, it expands it. Each run allowed, each loss suffered, each opportunity wasted, makes relief and celebration seem that much farther away.
What I would suggest is that if a World Series title is truly the main goal (and why wouldn’t it be), then you have to be prepared to ride out the bad times that hammer every eventual champion sometime during the season. No team goes through 162 games unscathed. It just doesn’t happen.
Nine losses in 11 games against the Giants before June really are irrelevant as far as October. Miserable, yes, but irrelevant. I’ll always get a ton of pushback on that point, but the evidence is absolutely clear on my side. The Giants lost eight of their last 11 to the Dodgers in 2014, and who in San Francisco cares now?
On the other hand, if you’re someone who simply lives in the moment, and doesn’t attach larger significance to the lousy ones the Dodgers have been having this week, then I can’t help you, but you don’t need my help. You know that change is always on the horizon, and sunshine is always around the corner from the shadows.
I guess I’m guilty of repeating myself after all.