It's been a surreal 24 hours.
As a member of a baseball fan base who hadn't experienced an ultimate championship in over 30 years -- Mets, Orioles, Tigers, Pirates, Indians, Brewers fans, we are one -- I was somewhat at a loss over how to react to the Dodgers winning the World Series.
What do I do? All of this attention on me for something I didn't do! ... I feel weird. ... I don't know what to do with my hands!
Part of this is because I was working when the game was playing. So while I was fully aware of the game -- it is my job responsibility to know what's happening in sports -- I couldn't do all the things I'd do if I was following the game from my living room.
Also, you need to know the job I have to understand the emotional conflict. Not only is the job of an editor/reporter built on objectivity, but it demands your undivided attention. I must be concentrating while I'm working because if I don't, errors will happen and deadlines won't be made.
So, I dutifully put together the sports layout for my team winning the World Series -- the first time I've ever done that in 30-plus years in the business -- and barely said more than three sentences about what the Dodgers had done. The woman who I was working with last night -- she designs the layouts based on my specifications and I select the stories, photos, write the headlines, etc. -- said that my reaction to my team winning a championship was the most subdued reaction ever.
I shrugged and said, "I had a job to do. I need to focus."
That's what I put together. Newspapers are very limited these days thanks to the lateness of games (both start time and length), but under the circumstances, it's not too bad.
So after controlling myself through the work shift, it was time to come home and unwind. That didn't work too well. There was all the well-wishes on the blog and even more well-wishes on Twitter (for all of Twitter's faults, it's very good for stuff like this).
Once again, I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING.
It's like when it's your birthday. There are all these people focusing on you just because we've all landed on a day that marked when you came into the world and you're going, "what? What? Presents? Yeah, OK, I'll take that. Cake? Sure. Did I do something?"
It feels great. Weirdly.
One of my first thoughts after this, was "thank goodness I don't have to use a 1988 card anymore when I do this post next year."
There are other immediate benefits to your team winning a championship and since I've been wandering around and babbling like Ebenezer Scrooge after he's just been visited by three ghosts, I decided to list a few of them here.
WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT YOUR TEAM WINNING:
1. Nothing else related to baseball matters
There are no concerns. Who are the Dodgers going to pick up in the offseason? What will the pitching rotation look like? Why didn't that manager move work? Why didn't he field that ball? Why didn't the ball travel a few feet more? All of the common laments after a high-stakes loss don't matter and are eradicated by angels singing peacefully, "the Dodgers are world champions" over and over.
2. Trolls are impotent
The online world, as you know, is full of unhappy people. Burdened by their unhappy lives, trolls will do what they can to bring you down. "They won in a 60-game season." "They wouldn't have won if Kevin Cash wasn't married to his computer." "Justin Turner's coronavirus behavior is what's wrong with America." "Clayton Kershaw's postseason ERA is still too high." "This championship is as legitimate as the 1981 split-season one." "The Dodgers should win a title every year, they have so much money." I've heard it all.
I may agree with the above on some level in my regular state (but not the last one). However, don't bother trying to kill my vibe now. It's not going to work. This is as close to it gets to a fan being bullet-proof. You're talking to a giant, blue, brick wall.
3. The social media congratulations
My daughter texted me seconds after the Dodgers clinched and seconds before my wife and a co-worker and several others texted me some form of congratulations. The texts have continued into today and there were all the previously mention Twitter thoughts and Facebook congrats, too (although Facebook just doesn't get sports at all).
An aside: I normally get like one text a week that isn't related to work or some crisis at home.
Even though the Dodgers have reached the World Series three of the last four years, my wife and daughter haven't gotten into it completely until this year. My daughter, who had just about zero interest in baseball for the first 18 years of her life, is a certified Dodger fan, following them on her various social media preferences like the young kids do. My wife, meanwhile, watched what I am pretty sure is the first complete baseball game she has ever watched on TV in her life last night.
That makes this title even more special. It's a pretty lonely life being a Dodgers fan in the Northeast. I'm used to it -- it's been happening since the mid-1970s -- but it does feel pretty good to now have someone, in person, who understands.
4. Clayton Kershaw is now a legend
More on the "not quite tremendous" Kershaw Stadium Club card in my next post, but Clayton Kershaw has now joined the other Dodgers World Series legends in my mind, people like Hershiser and Gibson and Garvey and Cey.
My current favorite player will be a World Series champion wherever he goes, just like past favorite players like Cey, Guerrero and Hershiser. And that title is very real and tangible years and years after the feat. Just ask Hershiser. Or ask me, who gets all moony-eyed when he discusses some of those past greats.
And all of those other players are now in a Hall of Reverence where they will remain no matter what they do in the future. Congratulations, Julio Urias and Austin Barnes and Joc Pederson and Dylan Floro, and of course, Mookie Betts. You have joined Franklin Stubbs and Tracy Woodson and Derrel Thomas and Steve Sax, among others. You have risen to a level above other Dodgers players.
5. THE DODGERS ARE CHAMPIONS, YOU GUYS
I don't have to count back years anymore. The Dodgers could not win another championship until 2051 and it wouldn't be as long as I waited for this one (I hope I'm around for 2051 but I'm not counting on it). I don't have to respond to the "these people weren't alive the last time the Dodgers won a World Series" taunts.
The last Dodgers World Series title came when I was 23 years old. I had graduated from college five months earlier. I was working my first newspaper job, part-time, only four months into that gig. It's so long ago that I don't remember what the newspaper layout looked like for the Dodgers' 1988 title. I don't even remember what my reaction was to winning the championship that year.
My wife and I have been married 30 years. When Kirk Gibson hit his home run in Game 1 of the '88 World Series, I remember watching it in the living room of my future mother-in-law's house with my girlfriend-future-wife. She was finding out just what kind of fan I was. Earlier that night we had been at my grandmother's where my parents were visiting. I think it was maybe the second time my parents and my wife had met. That's how long ago it was. My parents are gone. My wife has suffered through many ballgames and television takeovers since.
I'm sure there are lots of other things I can say. But at 9 a.m. this morning -- five hours after I went to sleep -- the water department visited my street to resume jackhammering the road. Honestly, weren't they all up watching the game? (Hello, night owl: Being a Dodger fan on the east coast still sucks!)
So I'm groggy and too caffeinated to get across what this really means.
More thoughts tomorrow. And I've got a contest winner to reveal.
You did it Blue.