Dodgers fans thrilled at possible World Series title while lamenting 2020 oddities
Never had yard work looked so thrilling.
Less than an hour before Game 4 of the World Series, Dodgers fans Joe and Kyle Beachboard marveled at the pregame ritual unfolding before them at Globe Life Field: a real-life grounds crew hosing real-life water on a real-life infield.
After a season without real-life baseball — at least for the fans who were barred from attending regular-season and most playoff games — these were the little moments the father and son season-ticket holders once took for granted but suddenly found themselves appreciating.
“I’m glad we got to see the season,” said Joe, 57. “I’m glad we got to watch it on TV.”
But only upon traveling to the World Series this week was he reminded of baseball’s romantic rhythms, of the fulfillment of watching a simple game from plastic stadium seats.
Dodgers hope to close out the World Series and end their title drought Tuesday night with rookie pitcher Tony Gonsolin making the start.
It makes the prospect of a long-awaited Dodgers championship in this of all years somewhat complicated.
On the one hand, the fan base has suffered long enough since their most recent title in 1988, memories that have slowly started to fade.
“I got my season tickets in 1989,” Joe said with a self-deprecating laugh. “I have seen all of the years. All of the delays and pain.”
Then, he looked to his 22-year-old son.
“You’ve never seen them win.”
That could change Tuesday or Wednesday, with the Dodgers needing one more victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to snap their 32-year title drought. Their players maintain that a championship in this pandemic-shortened, limited-spectator season will be no less significant, that the challenges they’ve tackled rival any they faced during previous playoff pursuits.
But different obstacles face their fan base, obstructions that not even a World Series win will completely eliminate. A title this year will bring no parade, no single place for Dodgers fans to come together. No setting where the cathartic release can be experienced as one.
“I keep using the word the bittersweet,” said Desiree Garcia, a co-founder of Dodgers fan group Pantone 294. “If we pull it off, it’s going to be one of the happiest moments and one of the saddest moments ever.”
Unlike most postseasons, when she would follow the Dodgers around the country, Garcia has remained in Los Angeles this October, her husband and dog the only witnesses to her nightly cheers — or frustrated screams — in front of the TV.
She knows how much her fellow fans are missing out on. But she also knows the value many of them have placed on this Dodgers playoff run.
“A lot of the fans are still working from home or without a job or unemployed,” she said by phone this week. “This is something they normally can use as an outlet, to get away from the struggles of the day to day. I honestly think people are just going to be super excited. ... Because of the times, it’s going to mean that much more.”
Keith Burrus is among those who’ve found this postseason to be a welcome distraction. A Simi Valley native, Burrus has lived in Dallas since 2008 as a salesman for an education company. His work has been cut back, however, as the pandemic has dragged on.
Dodgers games have helped fill that void. And when Major League Baseball announced that limited tickets would be available for the National League Championship Series and World Series, he scrambled to secure seats to one game in each.
“What are the odds,” he said from high up the right-field deck, “that the first year they do a remote site, the Dodgers would be in Dallas?”
Vin Scully, like most other Dodgers followers, watches the World Series from home and wonders what’s taking his favorite team so long to win it.
It’s silver linings like that Dodgers fans will cling to if the team finally claims a title this week. Through one lens, this might be the worst year imaginable to celebrate a championship. But there will be other ways to view the desperately craved accomplishment. It might feel different. That doesn’t mean it won’t satisfy the same.
“I’ve waited all my life for a World Series,” said Alex Soto, Garcia’s partner organizing Pantone 294. He made the trek to Texas this week, getting second-level seats behind home plate in a quarter-filled ballpark dominated by Dodgers fans.
“It would have been cool to be at home with 56,000 Dodger fans in attendance,” he said. “But we’ll take 10,000.”
The Beachboards felt the same way, taking in the sights of a World Series like no other from an upper-deck terrace down the left-field line.
“I’ll take it anyway we can get it,” Joe said. “I’ve been, for so long, waiting for a win, it’ll be powerful to me one way or the other.”
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