Well, it's that time again.
Freshly cut grass, fighting over balls during batting practice, reunion with friends you haven't seen since last season, and inevitable arguments with fans of other teams. Yes, it's time for Dodger Baseball!
Never had I experienced a season like last year in my entire life. Due to the economy, my hours were cut significantly from one job to the next. And my only outlet was with the team I love. Never before had I ever invested my heart as deeply as I did last year with the Dodgers . The long drives from Garden Grove seem to be the last thing on my mind, as well as the $15 parking in comparison to the $8 parking right by my house at Angel Stadium didn't detour me.
I could never be a fan of any other team than the Dodgers. And until midway through the 2008 season, it seemed to have been only a take-not giving relationship. But although I'm not the biggest fan of Manny Ramirez , he changed everything.
But losing to the Phillies in 2008 didn't leave a bruise, it only heightened the anticipation for 2009.
And what a beginning to 2009!
Winning our first 13 home games. Then came the disappointment of Manny and his suspension. But after a few games, we proved ourselves to be more than Manny as Juan Pierre showed the true spirit of this Dodger Team. And we cruised as the season went on. Andre Ethier then started to come into his own after he made clutch hit after clutch hit.
June 16th came and I decided to cash in a coupon that gave me $50 off field-level Dodger seats. It was the first time since 1988 that I had sat on field level and the greatest ticket I have ever had right on the 3rd baseline, even with Casey Blake. But this was the night when one of my best friends, Ric, found out his mother had passed away unexpectedly, which was why he wasn't at the game with me. And of course, his favorite player, Matt Kemp, somehow had to be the man to win the game in the 10th inning with a clutch hit.
In an otherwise horrible day, it actually gave him something to smile about. Not that it can even come close to compare to the feeling of losing your mother, it was one thing that could make him break a smile.
Then came July 3rd and a road trip to San Diego in Manny's return! That day I may have seen 50 Padres fans at tops. It was infested with Dodger fans, and boy did we jump on those Padres and came away with the win.
It just seemed to be one of those seasons.
We finally slowed up as the end of the season approach, but still maintained to hold on to the best record and home field advantage. I was so excited to be going to my first playoff game ever, but I was scared of the two headed monster in Carpenter and Wainwright.
Game one was surprisingly easy and we won. But Game two will be a game I will never forget. Adam Wainwright had our number for the entire game and I was so disappointed to think that everything we had worked for was about to be gone with only one out left in the bottom of the ninth. As James Loney popped the ball in the air to right field, I bent down to grab my backpack and leave in heartbreak when all of a sudden the unthinkable happened.
Holiday dropped the ball and we were still alive!
From that point on, no one could shut up or sit down for the rest of the game.
It was the first game that I ever lost my voice. Mark Loretta sealed the game with a harmless little hit to win the game for the Dodgers. It was like every Dodger fan had to hug each other. We couldn't believe we won after such a agonizing game. Of course, the rest is history as we advanced to the NLCS.
Now another first and a rematch with the team I had grown to hate: the Phillies.
Game one was very exciting and had a lot of offense and I wasn't mad about how we bounced back. But Sherill had been so automatic all year, and to give up so many runs left a bad taste in my mouth.
But I still had faith and game two proved to be just the same as the previous game two in the NLDS. The optimism I had as I left Dodger Stadium after a game two win was that there was no way we would lose all three games in Philly. I didn't think for a second that that would be my last Dodger game at Dodger Stadium for the year. My last memories of that game were being stuck in Dodger Stadium for two hours before we even made it out of the stadium and on the freeway.
Game four. Bottom of the ninth. What else can I say? I was watching the game with some friends at a bar and when Broxton gave up the hit to Rollins, I slammed my glass to the counter and couldn't face to look at the television. It's as if I was a kid again and someone had punched me right in the gut and sucked all the air out of me. I couldnt even cry it was so bad. I had invested my heart and soul into this team and we couldn't lose it. Not this way.
And so went the 2009 Dodger Season. I knew now I would have to say goodbye to my favorite player Juan Pierre. And I knew we would lose Orlando Hudson. I felt we let the chance for something amazing just slip through our hands.
But as the hurt settled in, I was able to appreciate the most memorable season of my life: the Friday night fireworks and being able to go onto the field; going with my friend Alexandra to Macy's to meet Ethier and Kershaw; the road trips to San Francisco and San Diego; and tailgating at Angels Stadium with some great friends.
I loved and hated every minute of it.
And so I've waited, and here we are at the brink of a new season and my hope is for anything like last year. I'm sure it will be a great season, but in my heart, I know that there will never be a season like that or if there is, it will only be because we win it all, but even that might not compare.
Despite such a tough year with family, friends, and the economy, the Dodgers gave me the greatest year of my life.
The only way I can describe it is Blue Heaven on earth.