My husband, David, and I fell in love watching the Dodgers. Soon after we met, we found we shared a history in Fernando's no-hitter and Kirk Gibson's post-season homerun. But the problem with being a Dodger fan is that they'll break your heart. They blow 11-game leads to lose pennant races. They move to LA from New York leaving devastated Brooklyn fans behind. They trade away your favorite players. So on this warm September night, with the Dodger's tied for the National League West Lead, David and I drive through the streets of Chavez Ravine hoping for a win, but we know our team can and will break your heart.
We take our seats high in the reserve level, finish up our hot dogs and garlic fries as the sun sets behind us sending streaks of red and purple across the darkening sky and shake our heads as the Padres score four runs in the top of the first.
Our disappointment is familiar. The Dodgers have been struggling at the plate and it seems unlikely that our boys in blue will be able to make up the deficit.
But as we crack into our bag of peanuts, the Dodgers chip away at the Padre lead and by the end of the fourth the scoreboard shines from the dark sky: Padres 4, Dodgers 4.
The pitchers for both teams settle for several innings but in the top of the eighth, the Padres score two. It's nearly 9:00 and I'm tired. I've had a long day at work and wonder if just this once David would be willing to leave early. But the Dodgers need this win to stay at the top of the division so I don't even ask. The Dodgers get one run back in the bottom but in the ninth the Padres score another three.
"Bye, bye Dodger fans," David says as fair-weather-fans stream out of Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers come up in the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-5, and even when Jeff Kent sends a homer out to center, I cheer, but don't get too excited. We're still down three.
JD Drew comes up next and when he homers, David and I stand and cheer. After all, back-to-back homeruns are rare, but it's still a two-run game.
Russell Martin steps to the plate and the instant we hear the crack of the bat, our cheers explode into the night. Back-to-back-to-back homeruns? No way.
But the Dodgers are still losing. It would be crazy to hope for another homerun, but Marlon Anderson grants the wish none of us could imagine tying the score.
David and I sit back down, in awe, but the Dodgers make consecutive outs to end the inning and we're going into extras.
It would be a shame to lose a game like this, but the Padres aren't done. They score a go-ahead run in the tenth forcing the Dodgers to perform again.
I look up at the line-up on the scoreboard. Lofton and then Garciaparra. Garciaparra. If Lofton could just get on, Garciaparra might be able to do it just like he has so many times this season. A little hope sneaks in and I pray the Dodgers won't let me down.
Lofton does his job with a walk and Garciaparra walks toward home plate. David and I stand shoulder-to-shoulder and hope. For all the games we'd seen this season, last season and the season before that, we hope.
"Come on, Nomar," I whisper beneath my breath as Nomar fidgets with his batting gloves, and taps his toes in the batter's box. He leans back, there’s the pitch and the swing.
I leap with that ball as it flies off his bat and into the night and we jump up and down just like Nomar does out of the box.
The Dodgers win. The crowd, or what's left, of it goes wild and the Dodger players welcome Nomar at home plate.
Tonight, being there was everything. And tonight, even though it was just for one Dodger night, believing didn't break my heart.