Editor’s Epilogue: A love letter to the LA Dodgers
People always ask me why I like the Dodgers. Four hour games, hundreds of pitches and maybe a handful of times the bat actually touches the ball sounds like the most tedious, mind-numbing sport to exist. The truth is, I didn’t always like baseball. In fact, I loved soccer more than anything growing up.
When I played soccer, I chose the number 10 because that’s what the greats wore. I thought I was absolutely going to be the next Julie Johnston Ertz and wearing the same color pre-wrap as her would help me get there. There was never a morsel of self-doubt in my mind. I was confident and borderline cocky — not just in soccer but in every aspect of my life. Somewhere in between moving schools and hitting puberty, a switch went off in my head. In an instant, a flood of insecurities came down on me. Anxiety not only entered but completely consumed my life.
Nerves were now a daily occurrence caused by anything and everything. Talking in class made my hands shake and my face turn red. Playing sports stopped being a fun activity and just became another thing I thought I wasn’t good enough for. Some days I would throw up or be too anxious to even eat because the thought of screwing up made me sick to my stomach.
As I was navigating uncharted territory, I became a low self-esteem stranger to myself who was so scared of failure she stopped trying. I didn’t know how to handle being nervous, so I quit everything. I constantly bailed on plans with friends and gave up the sport I loved because it became tainted with pressure and anxiety. I lied and said I was happier this way until I couldn’t deny the miserable pit I fell into any longer.
Seventh grade was the start to this chaos, but it was also the first time I went to a Dodgers game.
It was early June. The weather was warm enough not to bring a jacket but with a nice breeze to keep from sweating. Kenta Maeda was pitching for the Dodgers who were playing the Braves. That day was the first time I heard the name Corey Seager. It was Seager’s rookie year, and while I didn’t know much about baseball, I knew that meant he had a lot to prove.
The first time he went up to bat he was calm and steady. When he swung, the noise his bat made when it came into contact with the ball was different from the other ground balls or foul balls: It was a home run. The first home run I ever saw in real life. I was in awe of the grace he had at the plate and the power of his swing. The second time Seager went up to bat, he hit another home run. A rookie hitting two balls out of the park? I thought that was the greatest thing I’d ever witnessed. Up until a few innings later when he hit a third home run.
That day will always be ingrained in my memory.
After that game, I became obsessed with the Dodgers. I learned baseball, every single rule. I knew it so well I started keeping score at every Dodgers game I went to so I could keep the scorecards as memories.
I began to appreciate the trials and tribulations of sports and the buried stories in every game. Baseball is slow, but the pace is what makes it great. The best part of baseball is in the moments between plays. When the pitcher changes his grip on the ball and the batter kicks the dirt stepping into the box, there’s a pause — a singular moment when players and fans alike are staring intently at the mound waiting for the pitch about to be thrown. A divided stadium hoping for opposite outcomes holds its breath and is suspended in time. No one knows if this will be the greatest play they will ever witness or just another ball.
My life currently is relatively settled. I am not experiencing any life-altering events (good or bad) — just waiting on my next pitch to come. I could wake up tomorrow and hit a walkoff grand slam or I could strike out: Either is just as likely. But baseball taught me to appreciate the moments in between the big plays. The ones that don’t determine the future but come right before those life changing moments — the ones that suspend me in time.
Watching my first Dodger game is the reason I started writing about baseball for my high school newspaper. Now, almost eight years later, I’m a journalism major working at the Daily Trojan. My nerves got the best of me and forced me to give up soccer, but now watching baseball, in a roundabout way, brought some of that confidence back. It gave me a new path to follow. It showed me how to appreciate the quiet moments in between, the pauses in our lives and the calm before the storm.
“Editors’ Epilogue” is a rotating column featuring a new Daily Trojan editor in each installment and their personal experiences of living in what seems to be an irrepressible dumpster fire of a world. Alexis Lara is one of the Arts & Entertainment editors at the Daily Trojan.