Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: Thinking out loud (Page 1 of 8)

Clayton Kershaw and the art
of choosing joy over blame

Life offers many lanes going the same direction.  

If you don’t know it by now, I value the journey more than the destination. Don’t get me wrong — the destination can be amazing, and not reaching it can be so frustrating. Failure to go the distance can sour me on my own journey if I’m not careful.

My novel is Exhibit A. Not only am I so proud of my writing, but it was such a great experience — at times, as I’ve probably said here, my best friend. And yet, it’s been a year-plus since it’s been on the market, and I can’t get it sold. I’ve had editors praise it while saying it’s not marketable. Maybe that’s just their way of being nice. Maybe they’re just lazy, since I think it is easily marketed. Either way, I have to remind my self that the process — the moments of writing that thrilled me (especially when I transcended a roadblock) — that all was the best part. 

This is a very long way for me to make a short comment about Clayton Kershaw’s seven perfect innings today. 

I have passed the point where I think a World Series title is the be-all, end-all of Major League Baseball. Obviously, the Dodgers’ title satisfied a big longing 18 months ago. Now, I would have rather seen Kershaw go for the perfect game rather then pull him out for the sake of October. For me, Kershaw perfection would generate more pure joy, like that finding that perfect plot point, thrilling beyond measure.  

That doesn’t mean that the Dodgers committed a crime by pulling him from the game. Pursuit of the playoffs and a championship is a truly worthy goal. Taking steps to protect a 34-year-old lefty with a record of injuries, so that we can see him on the mound as much as possible going forward, is also a truly worthy goal. 

Something good doesn’t mean the other thing is bad. Ice cream comes in many good flavors. I like burgers and I like baby back ribs. We don’t have to choose between one preference and another. Both are there for us as we travel the boulevards of life. We can see the horizon from both lanes. 

Either way, seven perfect innings on a cold April afternoon for a legend ain’t bad. 

Let’s not assign blame on a happy day. The last thing that makes sense on a day like today is to fight about it. 

Today was a moment to treasure. As Vin Scully would surely remind us, be glad that it happened. And let the rest go. 

The Latest Chapter in Our Great Adventure with the Dodgers

On August 23, 2018, the Dodgers were 4 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West with 34 games to play.

Now, we know that in 2018 Los Angeles came back, won the division and went to the World Series. Then, we did not. Then, I dare say, more people thought the Dodgers wouldn’t come back than thought they would. 

Now, the Dodgers are five games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West with 47 games to play. Will the Dodgers come back? We have no idea. 

This is another chapter in our great adventure, another milepost in our epic journey of suspense. And we can rue the uncertainty and curse the inanity all we want, but baseball does not exist without it. 

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In defense of baseball in 2021

Dodger Stadium, timeless (i.e., not 2021)

There has been one durably unifying complaint about baseball in its history: It’s boring. This is not as serious a criticism as, say, banning people with a certain skin color or heritage from the sport until after two World Wars, but it’s one that transcends time and demographics. 

Lack of action has long been the Achilles’ bunion of baseball, even before sports like football and basketball emerged from their primordial muck with sprightly feet. Sure, those sports have their own pace-of-play issues — the gridiron is the longtime home of 30-second huddles interrupted by a few moments of fury — but baseball boasts the most obvious perpetual pregnant pause. 

Traditionally, the fault line of baseball ennui has been bridged by fans who dismiss the complaints as a lack of sophistication among the complainers. (Translated: “If you’re too dumb to appreciate the greatness, I can’t help you.”) But lately, the uprising has come from within. The loudest cries against the state of baseball have come from some of its most diehard fans or reporters, legions of whom have testified to the lack of action, as Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated described the final game of the 2020 World Series.  

Over the final 26 minutes of play, viewers saw only two balls put into play. Over the three hours, 28 minutes it took to play the 8 ½-inning game, they saw 32 balls in play, or one every 6 ½ minutes. They saw more pitchers (12) than hits (10). They saw 27 batters strike out, or 42% of all plate appearances. That is, if they saw anything at all.

I can’t argue the numbers, nor would I argue that the baseball we see today is baseball at its all-time best. If your lifelong devotion to the sport is in jeopardy, I don’t know if I can talk you off the ledge.

But hey, let me try.

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Thinking of Vin

Today’s Instagram post by Vin Scully has shaken me.

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Novel progress, 2020

Nope, I haven’t stopped.

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For a moment, I’m 20 again

I realized something while out walking early this morning. It has, of course, been 32 years since the Dodgers won the World Series, and I’m 32 years younger than my father.

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I can hide, but I can’t run

I’m holding a stuffed toy baseball with a rattle inside. I think my friend Jim gave it to me, decades ago. We weren’t children anymore, but he knew I liked baseball things, and I believe it was just a fun or funny thing he spotted somewhere and decided just to pass along to me as a token. I kept it. The kids played with it when they were younger, then it went into a storage cabinet in the garage. Sometime this month, I pulled it out. It’s been my rally tool. I’ve been shaking it to celebrate the Dodgers doing something well or to try to stop their opponents from doing well. 

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In the middle of the night

Woke up at 2 a.m., still imagining A.J. Pollock getting a hit to complete that comeback. A single through the hole. A double down the line. A home run to walk off something incredible. I can see it so clearly. I feel like I can reach out and touch it.

It’s so beautiful. I can see the celebration. I can picture myself flying off the couch and scaring my children with my happiness. I can see it. I can feel it. I almost can’t believe it didn’t happen. A 6 in the bottom of the ninth column of the linescore. It’s right in front of me. 

Just one more baseball eluding a fielder.

In sports with a clock, a big comeback often becomes impossible at a certain point, before the game is over. In baseball, it never does. Even in defeat, even as others were spitting on the idea, I was reminded why I cherish that.

Please don’t comment on this if you’re going to be negative. I’ve gotten enough of that elsewhere. If you are angry, I understand — but just leave me out of it.

The nightmares of 2020 force perspective on the postseason

On the final day of January this year, I drove Young Master Weisman to a rehearsal for a cello performance in Calabasas. To bide the hours until he was ready to leave, I went to see the movie 1917 at a nearby theater. Then I drove to the Sagebrush Cantina, the modern-day saloon where I celebrated by 21st birthday on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend in 1988. Now, at age 52, I sat at the bar by myself, ordered one beer and watched the pregame ceremony at the first Laker game at Staples Center following the death of Kobe Bryant. And as I watched, I started to cry. 

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Anger is fear.
Anger is hurt.
Anger is pain.

Anger is not a baseline emotion. That’s what I have been taught in my 50s and should have been taught a lot sooner. 

Anger is an outlet for a more fundamental feeling. You are never angry without experiencing something deeper.

Anger comes from fear, conscious or unconscious. Anger comes from hurt, a wound slicing into you that can’t help but react to. Anger comes from pain, from the lingering, often harsh, often intolerable discomfort. 

Anger is trying to tell you something. 

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Sending a daughter to college during a pandemic

A recent CNN story playing right into my fears.

In my head, I have a list of the stupidest decisions I have ever made, a Mount Rushmore of “Why?” and “How?” — even though I know exactly why and how.

These weren’t accidents. They were choices, products of deep and agonized thought where I weighed everything with exceeding care … before taking what was obviously, in retrospect, the regrettable path. 

None of these decisions ruined me, and one could make the case that I’m all the stronger for them. 

But now, I’m about to take my daughter to college, and I wonder if it’s the action that’s going to be the singular destructive moment of my life. 

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Sheltered, Part 7: ‘And Walker doesn’t know how many outs!’

Sheltering in place has always been a way of life for Misty.

The last time someone outside my family was in our house was March 13.

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Sheltered, Part 6: There used to be a ballclub right here

Dodger Stadium, September 2015 (Photo: Jon Weisman)

I remember the Dodgers.

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Sheltered, Part 5:
Unlocked

Writing these “Sheltered” posts helped clear my head. This afternoon, I made some headway hacking through the dry brush of notes on the first draft of my novel to begin carving a plan of action for the second draft.  

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Sheltered, Part 4:
Don’t forget the joy

Some of my current angst is rooted in the novel I began working on almost 20 months ago. 

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