Op-Ed

Hate baseball? There are still seven reasons to watch the World Series

Fellow Dodger fans, I love you, but please leave the room.

The rest of you, admit it. You’re just counting the days until the World Series ends. You’re not even shy about asking: When will it all be over?

The answer only makes it worse.

“Well,” we say, “the series might end as early as Saturday, unless it tips into November because it's best-out-of-seven, so… hello? Where’d you go? And while you’re up, could you bring me a coaster?”

Peace must be brokered. Therefore, in the interest of municipal togetherness, here are seven reasons — one for each possible World Series game — why you should at least consider caring:

What else do Angelenos have in common? Eight out of 10 of us didn’t vote for mayor. We divvy ourselves up into Eastside and Westside as if the 405 were the Grand Canyon — unless we live in the Valley or South L.A., in which case somehow we hardly count at all. For the duration, if you pay even the slightest bit of attention to the games, we can all stand a better-than-even chance of having something to talk about with everyone in town.

Nobody says you have to watch a whole game. Honest. Leave the middle stretch to us completists. Go away, have a life for an hour. Then come back. If it’s a close game, turn off the announcers and watch the players’ faces. (Unlike in football, you can actually see their eyes.) These athletes try so hard to make every precious opportunity count. The last few innings are an excellent reminder that, on or off field, we only get so many chances.

You hate Texans, who want to steal your job. The Dodgers are playing against the Houston Astros. The governor of Texas has made no secret of his ambition to lure large California companies away from us with lower wages and fewer job protections. The Dodgers, meanwhile, pay their players better than any other team in baseball. Management might wish this was otherwise, but Angelenos should be proud. Don’t you want, even a little, to mess with Texas?

The impenetrable stats and lingo don’t matter. Even a lot of dedicated fans can’t keep up with baseball jargon. Every year they change the slang, like changing locks to keep you out, and most statistics are just convoluted ways to tell us what we already know. It doesn’t even matter if you’re clueless about the rollercoaster season that got the Dodgers this far. It’s just one game at a time now. This is one series where episode recaps remain optional.

The colors are beautiful. Dopey, I know, but squint at your TV screen until the picture blurs. What do you see? Impossibly green grass. The fertile brown of the San Gabriels, if they’re playing at Dodger Stadium. Throw in the deep blue of the Dodger uniform — not the retouched blue of postcard skies, but that azure moment when twilight dims over the Pacific just enough to erase the horizon. Put them together and you have the true unflown tricolor of the place where we’re all lucky enough to live.

The World Series packs all the tension of a good novel — fascinating characters and a suspenseful story and lots of subplots and symbolism. Think you’re too smart for a dumb game? If you know what to look for, baseball is literature without the eyestrain. Get a load of the only two protagonists who get even more Fox screen time than a catcher’s crotch: manager Dave Roberts and right-fielder Yasiel Puig.

Roberts is a strategic magician worthy of “The Tempest.” He quiets clubhouse storms and inspires fanatical loyalty among his players. But even he must wonder whether the well-meaning analytics guys in the executive suite will someday keep him around just to oil the machinery. He’s a hero in the immemorial war between sorcery and science, a battle kitted out for the moment in Dodger blue and Astro — remind me, what are their hideous colors again?

And Puig. He’s like “The Tempest’s” Caliban, a beast with the soul of a dancer. He drives sports cars at double the speed limit and waggles his tongue like a 12-year-old, but he plays the game with nonchalant, heroic joy.

Not buying it? One last try:

We sorry fans deserve your sympathy. Look at us here on the couch, no good to anyone, twisting, groaning, exulting over the exertions of men we’ll never meet and might not like if we did. For hours, days. We are, in the words of Randy Newman, “an object for your pity, not your rage.” Sit here next to us. Just for a few plays. Don’t you know a part of us wants to cry, “Go Dodgers — and don’t come back?” At least until spring training.

David Kipen is the author of the essay “Is It O.K. to Be a Fan?” in the forthcoming book “Thomas Pynchon in Context” (Cambridge University Press), a UCLA Writing Programs lecturer and the founder of the lending library Libros Schmibros.

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