Hello, World Series … goodbye, Earth

Mikey Williams/Los Angeles Dodgers

Mikey Williams/Los Angeles Dodgers

The past 100 hours since the Dodgers captured the pennant, the verifiable, officially viable National League pennant, those have been the air-conditioned portion of their fanbase’s trip to the World Series.

Feel the breeze. Luxuriate in the cool, refreshing praise from around the baseball world. Revel in the stories telling you how great you are. (Technically, it’s “how great the team you root for is,” but really, what’s the difference?) It’s climate-controlled, baby.

But come 5:09 p.m. Tuesday, we’ll open the sliding door and step right into the heat — the literal heat, yes, but even more scorching, the metaphorical heat. This week’s 100-degree temperatures are unseemly for fall, even in Los Angeles, but they’re entirely appropriate. We will be sweating this one out long after the Tuesday sun sets.

This is what we asked for. For 29 years, we begged, we pleaded for this return to this heavenly ballfield, heated by hell’s furnace.

Sitting on the edge of our seat? No, we’re just sitting on the edge — living on it, nothing to lean back on, no cushion, no backrest. Thrust into orbit and hoping, praying we don’t incinerate upon reentry. We’re on top of the world, ma, with a long way to fall.

You dreamed about this for so long. Now experience weightlessness and terror all at once.

Your team needs to win four games out of seven. There’s no prescription for how exactly that gets done. You can win those games by staking out an early lead or coming back late. You can drop one at home and win two on the road, or you can sweep at home and come home needing to sweep again. You will need 20 runs if the other team scores 19. You can bask in a single run if you hold the other team to none.

There will be moments where things go wrong, maybe too many of them at once, and the reflex will be to assume that your team screwed up — made the wrong decision, swung at the wrong pitch. Sometimes, yeah, it will be on us — who among us hasn’t scolded a child (or a parent) for their numbskull transgressions? One piece of advice: It will help you to remember that the other team is fantastic, genuinely fantastic, earning every bit of its place in this World Series, more likely than not wreaking the havoc, rather than rolling head-first past it.

I like the Dodgers’ chances. I really do. But we are explorers, on a visionquest unseen in this city in some lifetimes. Maybe, over the course of the coming years, the frightening will become familiar. But for now, there is no preparing for the extreme adventure we are about to undertake, no warding off each trembling, pulsating, head-rattling moment. It’s a sensation we can only hope will prove sensational. We are livin’ now, friends.

  • WBBsAs

    I used to take Dodgers’ WS championships for granted. I’m not doing so now – the ‘Stros are no pushovers – but I’m looking forward to it.

  • Landon

    As is natural I suppose, I have spent a substantial portion of the time since the Dodgers won the pennant Thursday thinking about my own personal Dodger history and the moments that define my fandom throughout the last 29 years.

    Old friends from high school I haven’t thought of in a while have received a ‘DODGERS!’ text. Relatives responsible for my blue blood, who have since passed, have been given a special Puig-esque heart tap, fist kiss and point towards the sky. And memories of time spent on an old fan-site called the toaster came rushing back to me. That time was important to me, and got me through what was a particularly rough time as a Dodger fan (and in a larger sense my early 20s in general).

    I wasn’t considered a contributor, or even a regular poster, but I was a disciple and valued very much the friendly banter and Mr. Weiseman’s sermons. It was a great group of guys and girls that I spent that particular period of my Dodger fandom with, and I will always remember being there when Kemp got his Bison moniker, and people debated the exact specifications of the Grabowski Principle.

    So it is fitting, as we all prepare for the week to come, that I drop by and give Jon and the group a special tip of the cap. We are back in the World Series, boys…. and thanks for the memories.

  • Daniel Zappala

    I remember Craig Nettles and Reggie Jackson breaking my heart. I remember Ron Cey, Reggie Smith, and Tommy John mending it. I was lucky enough to attend game 5 of the 1988 World Series and experience the memories of a lifetime. I’m thrilled to have some new memories, bitter or sweet.

    • WBBsAs

      Nettles broke my heart, but I admired his skills. Reggie also impressed me with his hitting, but he should’ve called out for obstruction of Russell’s throw.

      • Daniel Zappala

        Amen to that.

  • Fadeaway Podcast

    Thanks for this, Jon. (And thanks for this, Dodgers.)

  • WinnipegDave

    This post is poetry. I have no idea why but the phrase from Yeats – used by Bradbury in one of his anthologies – came to mind as I read this. The silver apples of the moon/ The golden apples of the sun.

    Jon – there are so many phrases I love: heavenly ballfield, heated by hell’s furnace; weightlessness and terror together; sensation we can only hope will be sensational.

    Sorry I know that it is bad form to fan boy someone’s writing but my goodness I have missed reading your stuff.

    Anyway, I had the very same thought last night that you express here. That we should enter into this year’s experience as fully as possible. Because even if we come this far again next year by some miracle or some depth of talent – it will feel different. As you said with my favourite line in the piece: maybe the frightening will become familiar.

  • Phil Gurnee

    Glad to read your Dodger Thoughts on this momentous occasion. Been a long ride for all your readers.

  • Steve Hall

    As always, Jon, your writing is transcendent. Don’t let this go to your head, but reading that, I was reminded of the great Jim Murray. He’d have loved to have been writing about the Dodgers following a 29-year vacation from the World Series, and you did it with the same poetry that Mr. Murray was famous for.

  • WBBsAs

    I felt a bit sickly during the day, from what I don’t know, but this game re-energized me.

  • WBBsAs

    Last night’s game was disheartening, and it’s hard to distance myself from that, but objectively speaking it was a wildly exciting one. I just hope that it doesn’t, retrospectively, become a turning point.