Opinion: Giants fans, baseball can be cruel and unfair. Dodger fans know this well
To anyone who hates the Dodgers (and I know plenty of you are out there), please note before reading further: Most of the letters below were written by fans of a baseball team that was, for the nearly three decades before its 2017 World Series appearance, a reliable bet to come up short. There was the end of the O’Malley era in the 1990s, the unsteady News Corp. ownership that followed and, from 2004 to 2012, the McCourt family ownership that ended in bankruptcy. We also lost Vin Scully to the retirement he richly deserved a year before we could have heard him call one last World Series in 2017.
So bear in mind: We paid our dues to get where we are now.
The point is, baseball can be heartbreaking and cruel. The 162-game seasons are long, and any achievements made over those grueling summers can be effectively erased by a single nine-inning contest in the playoffs, as fans of the San Francisco Giants learned Thursday night after their team lost to the Dodgers and had the door slammed shut on an epic 107-win season. Los Angeles is intimately familiar with the pain of playoff disappointment, and we will feel it again in the future just as surely as San Francisco is feeling it now.
The letters here, all sent to us after Thursday night’s Dodgers victory, reflect both the pain and exultation of baseball fandom, the griping over blown calls, the endless wondering over what could have been.
To the editor: The Dodgers’ win over the Giants wasn’t epic. Instead, it was marred by a horrible conclusion.
Two teams each with more than 100 wins battled it out, and the game ended on a blown call by an umpire. It was clear that the final Giants batter did not strike out on a check swing as called by the umpire. No one can overrule it, no TV replay applies, and yet it ends the season for the Giants and gets the Dodgers closer to the World Series.
Yes, the Dodgers won, but we will never know what could have happened. It was a one-run victory for the Dodgers, and in baseball, close games can change almost instantaneously and wins can evolve out of losses at almost any time.
The Giants batter who was called out could have gotten a hit, got on base safely because of a fielder’s error or even hit a home run. We will never know.
I wanted the Dodgers to win, but not this way.
Michael Miller, Los Angeles
To the editor: As a 10-year-old boy, my dad took us on vacation from Provo, Utah, to Los Angeles. One day, he brought us to a movie called “The Jackie Robinson story.” In that one afternoon, I became a baseball fan, a Dodgers fan and a Jackie Robinson fan.
A year later, in 1951, I was sitting in my fifth-grade class in Provo when the principal interrupted to tell us of the great victory of the Giants over the Dodgers. I sheepishly ducked my head and cried at my desk.
In 1958, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. Jackie Robinson had been traded to the Giants, but he retired instead of reporting to the hated rival. Nine years later, still a Dodgers fan, I followed the team to Los Angeles.
In 2002, the Angels’ win over the Giants in the World Series almost righted my boat, but for sure Thursday night’s win over the Giants was one of the great moments of my 81 years.
Richard VanWagenen, Newport Beach
To the editor: I wore my favorite baseball cap Friday morning while walking the dog. It’s the one that prominently displays the letters ABTD (“Anyone But The Dodgers”), and it was pulled down low so no one could notice the swollen red eyes of a lifetime Giants fan.
Yet, in my grief I can still recall that old Brooklyn refrain, “Wait until next year.” And while that alone won’t get me through a bleak Midwestern winter, it’ll have to do until spring arrives and the hopes and dreams of another division title are reborn.
Bob Ory, Elgin, Ill.
To the editor: The simple truth is that bad calls happen to all teams, all the time. This one happened to be in the Dodgers’ favor.
To Giants’ fans, I say one bad call does not a loss make.
Marie Pollara Lévesque, Lake Balboa
To the editor: The umpiring in the Dodgers-Giants playoff series reminded me of the umpiring in the Little League World Series.
Chuck Hill, Venutra
To the editor: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and I was devastated when the Dodgers moved to the West Coast before the 1958 season. But now, I am happy they beat the Giants, who also moved west from New York at the same time the Dodgers did.
Congratulations, and go Dodgers!
Herb Stark, Mooresville, N.C.
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