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Just had this thought and I’m still pondering it, but it occurs to me that my approach to the Dodgers and life is like Ted Lasso’s approach to coaching and life. It’s a pretty fundamental need to find and share happiness amid all the chaos.
Maybe a few minutes after my wife and I made it home from four days of travel and a subsequent fast fast-food run nearing sundown Tuesday, I turned on the Dodger game. Though I had kept up with the Dodgers while I was away, only in the final moments before this game did I realize that Clayton Kershaw would be pitching.
The chapter in 100 Things Dodgers on Vin Scully …
Because this site has the word “Dodger” in the title, I should probably take some time on this anniversary day to write, you know, about the Dodgers.
By the way, let’s be clear. As an adjective, it’s “Dodger,” not “Dodgers.” One rolls off the tongue, and the other doesn’t. Vin Scully didn’t say, “It’s time for Dodgers baseball,” and neither should you in any similar situation.
Moving on … and taking a cue from my second post at Dodger Thoughts, let’s look at the state of things on July 21, 2022.
I did get comfortable.
In a stream-of-consciousness sense, I found myself wondering who I’m doing these anniversary posts for — you all, or me. And in the next thought, I realized that’s exactly the dueling mindset I was in when I started the site.
If readers like what I write, great. But if they don’t, hopefully I will.
I’ve been healthier in expressing myself at this place than anywhere else, regardless of the audience. I’ve been my best friend here. I can’t always say that elsewhere.
At the same time, that audience — and more specifically, the community that formed around Dodger Thoughts in the Baseball Toaster days — was more rewarding than I can say. Having readers was great. Bringing people together and forming bonds was beyond great.
So, that’s a relatively short way of explaining why I’m celebrating this anniversary even when I haven’t been writing much here lately. July 21, 2002 remains a life-changing day for me.
It might surprise you. It still surprises me. But four years after I wrote it, it gets at least 500 hits a week.
My second post ever on Dodger Thoughts was a State of the Union dated July 22, 2002 — and boy, what a trip down memory lane that is. Let’s put it through the Excerptatron 4000.
I can’t remember if I wrote this here or only on Twitter, but it’s been clear from the day the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series that thankfully, my angst over the team has diminished like — well, like the water supply in California.
It doesn’t hurt that they’ve continued to win about two-thirds of their games since then. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that the Dodgers won 106 games in 2021 but lost their streak of division titles at eight. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have been annoyed if last year they had lost the NL Wild Card Game or the playoff series against the Giants. But I will say that as much as I wanted them to beat Atlanta and reach the World Series, I got over that defeat instantaneously.
Honestly, my No. 1, prime interest with the Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw.
If I looked back at the personal pieces I wrote for Dodger Thoughts, the ones that had more to do with life than with the Dodgers (though certainly, they intersected quite a bit), I could find many I value. But these are the two that come to mind instantly.
“My Phil Dunphy Problem” — February 20, 2012, where I discussed my lifelong anxiety, how easily I could lose faith in myself and, in a word, my pain.
“Love, hate and tears” — December 2, 2009. The title speaks for itself, though it does intersect a great deal with the Dodgers, but speaks even more loudly to my inner pain that was enough to arouse genuine concern to me from at least one reader. . But perhaps the thing that meant the most to me was this: I wrote about the impact an episode of Friday Night Lights had upon me, and the writer of the episode, Rolin Jones, saw my post and wrote this comment.
I can see the lights of Dodger stadium from my deck in echo park. I appreciate the summer fireworks on fridays but mostly I consider the ravine a place to see the cubs three times a year. Someone sent me your piece this morning. Hardly dispensable. More like awesome. You can’t make me like the Dodgers, but I’ll read about them now. Good to know you exist.
From the writer of last night’s “Friday Light Nights”,
I would say that things got worse for me before they got better, and I still have plenty I have to deal with. But I’m happy to report that I’m in a better place now.
Well, hi there.
One of the key things about writing Dodger Thoughts in the glory days was the groove. The more posts I wrote, the easier it was to write them. It’s easier to start a new post when you’re coming off a completed one, because there’s momentum. If I needed a rest, I’d take it. But I’d never need a rest for very long.
The other big component was that the more often I wrote, the more focused I could be, and focus for me is a big part of a successful piece. I didn’t feel like I had to cover everything in one shot. And it allowed me to take the time for longer posts crafted with more care. Perhaps most of all, I felt free to break from the Dodgers to write my more personal thoughts, which quickly became my favorite and most meaningful ones to write.
Which brings me to today, the eve of the 20th anniversary of Dodger Thoughts. As any visitor to the site knows, I haven’t written much here at all since the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, particularly this year. So there’s the desire to catch up on the team since then, but moreover, the desire to reflect upon the past 20 years in some signifcant way.
So my plan is, rather than writing one grand, winner-take-all post, that I’ll publish in short bursts over the next two days. In a way, it fits with an approach to life that I’ve subconsciously understood but never really crystalized literally until this moment: the less ambition, the easier the success.
We’ll see how it goes. Y’all come back now, ya hear?
As the 20th anniversary of Dodger Thoughts approaches (though admittedly, I haven’t been writing here this year), Eric Stephen has posted an interview with me at True Blue L.A. looking back at those two decades.
It’s always a pleasure and an hour to talk to Stephen, who in my view has set his own standard to become the definitive Dodger writer.
I do hope to write more here in regards to the anniverary on July 21, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
Sorry to say that due to unforeseen (travel) circumstances, I need to cancel the Dodger Thoughts 20th Anniversary night. Thanks, and apologies, to all of those who expressed interest in going.
All is well, and I’m sorry I’ll miss seeing you.
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.