But back then, I didn't have a job. My only responsibility was a six-pound dog who followed me wherever I went. I spent my days watching baseball and inane comedies replaying on TBS and going to Dodger games and writing about the Dodgers (and Red Sox).
Now I have a job. And a wife. And a kid. I work 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week. I'm afforded the luxury of working from home, so I still get to watch and love all things Dodger Blue. I just don't have the ability to be as participatory as I once was.
I don't live in Los Angeles anymore. I moved nearly 1,000 miles north, to Vancouver, Washington, which is across the river from Portland, Oregon. I feel entirely disconnected from that place I love so very much: Dodger Stadium. I see it on television and I can still feel what it was like to sit there on a hot day, occasionally finding my way to a shady spot when I couldn't take the heat any longer. I've been a vegetarian for more than two years now, but I still remember the taste of a Dodger Dog with ketchup and relish. And if I ever end up back at Chavez Ravine, I will forget vegetarianism for just that one afternoon or evening. Because a Dodger Dog tastes like home.
No one ever paid me to write about the Dodgers. No one ever needed to. I loved everything about doing it. And even without money, I still felt like I did it successfully. And given that I am nearly 33 years old and can point to very few successes in my life, that's saying something. I miss that feeling of accomplishment that came, perhaps naively, from even knowing 10 people were reading what I had to say about Manny Ramirez or Juan Pierre or security at Dodger Stadium or being able to blog right from the press box.
I think it boils down to the fact that when I was writing about the Dodgers, I felt like I belonged. I had friends at sites like Sons of Steve Garvey. I was expected in the game threads, and I showed up for most of them. The guys at the now-defunct Cobra Brigade loved me, and the feeling was mutual. Don't believe anyone who tells you that you can't form real relationships over the internet. I would have done anything for any one of those guys (including buy a beer for Steve Sax -- the SoSG one, not the real one -- at a game once), or any of the people who regularly showed up in comment threads at those sites.
I am in a happy marriage. I love my wife and our son. But as she and I point out to each other quite a lot, we don't really have any friends. We have our Facebook friends that consist of people we knew mostly in high school and college. And we love many of them. But that feeling of camaraderie that I had while writing about the Dodgers is something I've yet to find again. Even the feeling that came from just being at a game with 40,000+ other fans -- high-fiving strangers when great plays happened -- just doesn't exist when I sit here, exactly 981 miles from Dodger Stadium.
I just miss it all. Including Vin (watching/listening to a game from so far away just doesn't quite have the same feel to it). My love for Vin Scully has been well-documented on this site. If you know anything about me, you know I worship at the feet of Mr. Scully. After I attended the game on the first-ever Jackie Robinson Day, here's how I wrote about reacting to Vin's appearance:
There were many camera guys and press people standing behind home plate, but I could still see Vin. And when they announced him and the crowd stood and cheered for at least a minute, I completely lost it. I was seconds away from a full-on sob, and I had to fight to control it. I'm pretty sure ESPN never got me on camera, but if they did, your first look at me would have been a close-up of a crying girl.
I love him. I always have, and I always, always will. He is a consummate professional. He is engaging and endearing and knowledgeable and entertaining and just amazing. He is easily the best announcer of any kind in the game today, and probably in the history of sports.
Recently, my wife came up with the idea of making a Scully shirt. And I jumped at the chance. Not because it would make us some money (though I won't pretend that's not a nice bonus), but because maybe it would give me the ability to have that feeling of belonging, however indirectly it may come. Because if I sell a few shirts and I'm watching a game from up in the Pacific Northwest and see someone wearing one of my shirts? Hey, that's pretty cool.
And the thing is, I really love this shirt. I'm so proud of it. We ordered the first two shirts just to get things going. And at this point I want to reach the goal of 50 sold simply so that they will be printed so that I can wear my own. It just looks so sharp and so nice and it celebrates the Dodgers and Vin in one simple phrase. The sense of belonging I've been looking for would be even more prominent because not everyone knows Vin (unfortunately) and not everyone knows what he means when he says, "The deuces are wild."
I don't know exactly how to promote this thing so people know about it. I've Tweeted and emailed a few folks who I knew from my halcyon days in the Dodger world. And at the time of this writing people have placed orders for 26 shirts. We're more than halfway to our goal of 50. I don't want to be shameless about this, though. Because it's not all about the money. It really isn't. So if you like it, buy one. Then tell your friends. And hopefully we'll get to 50 and even beyond.
And then when we all wear our shirts -- my shirt -- maybe we'll feel like we're part of something. The people who bleed Dodger Blue, who know we have a good thing in Mr. Vin Scully, who hang on his every word, and who live for those moments of feeling the sunshine on their faces while sitting at field level or in the pavilion or anywhere in that gorgeous stadium. This shirt is about us. And I love it. I hope you will, too.
If you want one of your own, click the picture of it above, or visit the Teespring site here.