L.A. Affairs: I love the Dodgers. Dating a Cardinals fan should have been a red flag
I learned my boyfriend was being untrue to me a month before the Dodgers’ opening day. I broke up with him on the spot. There was no other option. I had already given him a second chance, and this time the evidence was crystal clear. That made it easier for me to tighten my ponytail, throw up a peace sign (or maybe another finger) and strut away. I still had my self-esteem and strength in place.
I was feeling fairly tough and moderately tearless until sorting night. That’s the night when Dodgers season ticket holders gather to divvy up the 81 home games. My seats are my dad’s legacy; he initially bought them more than 35 years ago. He was my favorite person to go to games with, and he taught me everything I know — every player and every stat, how to tell the difference between a curve and a slider, how to keep an ear open for some gem of a story Vinny was telling on the radio. And since my dad’s death, I’ve taken over the leadership of our little Blue Crew of shareholders that includes my mother and four friends.
It was five days post-breakup when we gathered around my kitchen table. Two of our partners were propped up on laptops via Zoom amid paper calendars with this season’s Dodgers schedule, a Joe Peeps’ pizza and wine. We had looked forward to this night. It was a chance to catch up and get amped about the season’s prospects. The Dodgers had many!
I also bought a Gucci shirt to get his attention. Would this turn into a meet-cute?
Freddie Freeman, an All-Star Game, some new Brooklyn hot dog and another shot at a World Series ring. I was excited for the welcome distraction and eager to plot my foreseeable summer. Until it hit me.
Who would be my plus-one for opening day? For the first 25 years of my life, my daddy was always my Dodgers partner. Although no man could replace him next to me at a game, losing my boyfriend opened the void once again.
Despite my ex-boyfriend being a Cardinals fan (which should have been a literal red flag!), he and I had bonded over our baseball rivalry. Our third date was in my seats. As we took in the front-row view and that crisp Chavez Ravine air, he invented a flirty little game with me. He bonked the bill of his St. Louis cap on my blue L.A. hat to knock it off. It might sound aggressive, but it was cute and got us in kissing proximity, which sent a thrill through me. But now, suddenly, like taking a curveball to the chest, I realized my automatic Dodger date didn’t exist.
The breakup made me feel shocked, saddened and suddenly catapulted back into the land of singledom. When it comes to my feelings on men in general, I know there’s someone out there who won’t lie to me and who will appreciate all I have to offer, including Dodgers games.
Whom would I link arms with at night when the temperature dropped below 65? Whom would I romantically watch the Friday night fireworks with? Who would tolerate my neurotic nacho-eating strategy? And what would happen when I said I didn’t want to go to Cardinals games this year? Suddenly the breakup became very real. And my heart, more blue.
We finished the sorting. I silently surrendered the St. Louis series, hugged everyone goodbye and picked a pepperoni from a slice of pizza. I let myself cry into the sink of dirty dishes while slowly cleaning up the remnants of the night. Baseball was finally back after a 90-day lockout, but the thrill of the ball was smacked out of my glove by the thought of being single. In the silence of my condo, I looked over at my bookshelf, at the pops of blue with my dad’s smiling face in picture frames, my Kershaw and Vinny and signed Magic Johnson bobbleheads — and heard them all whisper: “Get it together, Annie. We’re here!”
What was I thinking? I must not let this person who stole my trust and reaped the benefits of front-row World Series tickets, plus a wild-card St. Louis game, zap my Dodgers joy! A 30-year-plus relationship with a 20-man roster completely overrides a boyfriend of three years. I grabbed my Dodgers list and started planning and reaching out to friends who would appreciate the moment as much as I would.
When opening weekend came along, everyone was in place. My friend Chrissie and I donned our matching Mookie socks (the high-knee ones with the palm trees) and kicked back in my seats in time for the flyover and a 9-3 win. The next night I surrounded myself with friends who made me laugh and posted a video about the Dodgers’ new nachos-in-a-helmet situation. And that Sunday, Mom and I relaxed under the sunshine, reminiscing about our days with Daddy, while the Dodgers swept the Cincinnati Reds in a 9-1 win.
Dating in small-town Colorado didn’t prepare me to look for love in L.A.
And all at the same time, I felt my dad around me.
And all at the same time, I felt the energy vibing off the bright white uniforms of our starting players.
And all at the same time, I felt grateful for this stadium. It was like coming home.
As the sun began to set that Sunday night, I felt a slight burn on my skin and the buzz of one too many Bud Lights. I felt whole again. This was my home plate.
Now, on a side note, if there happens to be any over-6-foot Dodger-loving single dudes out there, there’s more than half a season to share with you. Baseball is back.
The author works as a director for HGTV’s “House Hunters” and is a lifelong Dodgers fan. She’s on Instagram: @losannegeles.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.
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