I ask this not in theory, but in fear. For here in central California, birds are freely speaking their morning minds, and bushes are bountifully budding. It’s the advent of spring, and with it, the ritual beginnings of the most cherished of contests—spring training. Now you might dismiss baseball with a lofty wave, sniff at the prancings of overpaid egotists acting out meaningless maneuvers in a silly sport. But it’s a sport with more than a century of history, its movements and moments have run parallel with the thread of our times, its iconic figures have embodied tragic folly and immortal fame. It’s that history that harkens to my confession, the source of my fear, the undoing of my second-rate intelligence: I am both a Dodgers and a Giants fan.
For those of you who are one or the other, you know my position is an abomination, a fish with wheels, a thing with no moral compass. Two ideas, forever opposed.
History with Heat
You see, the Dodgers and Giants have been feuding for more than 100 years, harkening back to their New York roots, where they vied for the hearts and wallets of National League fans, until both teams were transplanted to the West Coast in 1958. The teams have continued to revile each other since, and it’s been blood sport at times, such as when Juan Marichal took a swing with his bat at John Roseboro’s head, rather than the ball. Being from LA, my team allegiance held steady with the Dodgers, the Boys in Blue, the feisty teams of the 60s filling my dreaming head, with Tommy and Willie Davis, Maury Wills, Wes Parker, Don Drysdale, and the Titan among them all, the incomparable Sandy Koufax, the most dominant pitcher ever.
And yet. My favorite non-pitcher, the person I considered the best baseball player of all time? Willie Mays, a magic man, whose on-field “flow” was matchless, who performed every aspect of the game at magnificent levels, and who smiled while doing it. The only problem was that he was a Giant. And we Dodger fans hated the Giants. Thus, a crack in my intelligence. The crack deepened when I moved up to the Bay Area, and lost access to most of the Dodger broadcasts (those from the mouth of Vin Scully, as glowing in the booth as any of the greatest players on the field) in favor of Giants games. Now I’ve lived up here much longer than I lived down south and I’ve become that sports leper: a Dodger/Giant fan. I’m the thing that I’d suggest shooting years ago.
I’ll Take a Hot Dog with My Schizophrenia, Please
I still cherish my first love, but this is now the air I breathe. (Note that I’m not trying to excuse my disease, but just explain the origin of the condition.) F. Scott might say I’ve lost the ability to function.
For you non-baseball people, at least you don’t recognize just how loathsome I am. Aside from my schizophrenia prompted by these opposed ideas, it’s moving toward spring, and that’s a fine thing.