My sister texted me sometime during the second inning. Matt Kemp had just hit a line drive into left field, bringing in Yasiel Puig and giving the Dodgers a 4–0 lead over the Giants.
“Dad called me the other day to wish me a happy birthday.” She doesn’t know it but whenever she has relayed simple information like this to me about all the ways in which my dad has chosen her over me, it cracks my open like an axe to a frozen lake. Granted, dad called her four days after her actual birthday, a nice gesture diluted by the fact that he can only vaguely remember his second daughter’s date of birth. She is his favorite still. It has always been this way.
I was fully prepared to feel emo and dark with regard to baseball today. Friday night’s game against arch rival the San Francisco Giants set the mood. We lost 9–0. The Dodgers played embarrassingly, a fact I dealt with by yelling loudly at the television and cussing perhaps unnecessarily.
The Dodgers are a team I have loved since I was a tiny little girl drinking grape soda while sitting next to grandpa on the couch as he took long swigs from beer cans.
Something happened last night on the field. The Dodgers’ bats were on fire. By the 7th inning when the score was an impressive 17–0, with the Dodgers leading, the crowd at AT&T Park had dwindled considerably, something that rarely happens. Giants fans are dedicated and stay throughout the duration of a game, usually, no matter what the score. I took it as confirmation of defeat long before the last pitch was thrown.
I set my phone down and did not reply to my sister’s text for a while. I thought about what my sister has that has always been good enough for our dad, and whatever it is, why don’t I have it too?
If the Giants had won last night, they would have taken first place in the National League West from the Dodgers. I know they wanted to. I know they expected to, I did. I expected to throw in the towel and stop caring about baseball until next spring. It is September after all and this is when, historically, the Dodgers choke. But it is just like baseball to be all romantic in the way that it keeps me interested. I’m walking away from the game, swearing it off for life, then baseball takes me by the hand and promises it’ll change for real this time.
I sent off a quick reply to my sister. “That’s nice, too bad he’s late lol.” Polite, and detached enough to make it seem like I didn’t care even though of course I did.
And the Dodgers, they have lived to see another day. They won again tonight, 4–2 and still anything can happen. It isn’t over yet. We are still in first place. There is still hope, no matter how trivial the subject matter is. There is still a glimmering faith. With regard to my father and baseball, I can say that about only one of the two. And in the middle of those two things independent of each other, is me, with the tenderest heart for both of them.