Baseball was my first love; the first thing I was ever passionate about. My Mexican/Salvadorean/Korean neighbors and I would play games in the middle of our street, and the Dodgers were our reference point and religion. We would mimick Fernando Valenzuela, Pedro Guerrero, Steve Sax, Mike Marshall, and the bulldog, Orel Hershiser. I was too young to remember the ’81 championship, but 1988 was vivid. That season we signed Kirk Gibson. Perhaps on the tail end of his career, he was a former MVP who won a chip with the Detroit Tigers a few years earlier. Well, we all know what he did to that Dennis Eckersley pitch during our World Series. .
The city of Los Angeles is distracting. Outside of sports, there are a million things simultaneously happening to occupy one’s time. I seriously thought I was going to grow up to play baseball. Then skateboarding took over. Then tagging. Then gang banging. Then hip hop. In a way, the Dodgers became sidetracked along with me. After ’88, they became mostly a middling team with shitty owner and a lot of disappointment. .
Finally back on the winning track (the Dodgers have been in the playoffs the last 5 years), this particular postseason was the closest we’ve gotten to winning it all. But now the dust has settled, and it’s just 29 years of heartbreak and counting. .
But really, the Dodgers are one of the few things that keeps me connected to my hometown. It is a text thread with me and my closest LA homies. It’s the first time I took my mom to a Dodgers game, four months before she passed away. It’s a fitted cap with a simple and iconic logo that I wear as my flag, here, in another city and country 3000 miles away. It is the REAL Los Angeles that outsiders seem blind to: working class, immigrant, black and brown soul. It’s a contradiction, the dirty business of professional sports, the exploitation of athletes, and the displacement of communities to build stadiums. It is blind fandom that is mostly senseless but for certain moments makes all the sense in the world. In the end, the “sports” part of it isn’t as important as the bonds and memories it creates for me. Win or lose, puro Dodgers por vida.