This week began with me feeling like I was ripping my skin off in one long piece as I left people I love for the second time, and ended with the rather humbling realization that I’d basically forgotten the most important detail in a 1,500-word assignment.
The capper was waking up to the news that Dee Gordon is a cheat.
I’ve always liked Gordon, the slight, plucky son of a former major-leaguer. Even when he was traded from my Dodgers, I still followed him – with the Marlins and on Twitter (@FlashGJr). I thought he was an example of what could happen if you worked hard and wanted something badly enough, a 5-foot-11, 160-pounder who won the NL batting title last season after hitting .333 while stealing 58 bases and scoring 88 runs.
Turns out he was just an example of what you can accomplish until you get caught.
Fortunately, I found a cure for my baseball-addled mental malaise: Baseball.
Specifically, of the minor-league kind, with $9 front-row seats, craft beer from a local brewery, an appearance by my favorite entertainment act, the Zooperstars, and my daddy sitting beside me.
Unfamiliar with the new arrival in this new-again town, I turned into the wrong parking lot, but the smiling, gap-toothed attendant let me in despite my glaring lack (this time) of credentials. My jeans were too hot and the long-sleeved baseball shirt a friend had given me a while back that read: “Home (represented by home plate) is where the heart (symbol) is” was a bad choice for a day that reached 91, but a selfie in it made said friend smile.
The home team went ahead early and held on for an easy win. A home run was crushed to right field. The opposing center fielder made a diving catch at the wall that the batter had to tip his helmet to while making an abrupt left turn at second. Back-to-back players with squat physiques came to bat, and I said, “This is the meat of the order,” and my daddy gave a chuckle (genuinely amused or slightly sympathetic, I’m not sure).
The sky turned a deep Dodger blue. In the absence of a bullpen, the opposing team's relief pitcher warmed up feet from us, a lefty popping the catcher's glove with a sweet staccato. A picture I’d tweeted of Clammy Sosa, my favorite Zooperstar, flashed on the scoreboard between innings. Kids lined up to run the bases, and we headed for the parking lot as post-game fireworks bloomed above our heads.
Gordon claims he unknowingly ingested not one but two banned substances, for which he had apparently tested positive before playing a key role in the Marlins’ four-game sweep of the Dodgers. I believe that like I believe the Nats will be a serious World Series contender in September.
But I do believe that the right-field line, with a beer in your hand as the starting lineups are announced and the sun, after an immense fight, commences a long, slow bow, is the best therapist office’s I know.