Today, for the first time this season, I journey to Dodger Stadium. I look forward to these trips more than almost anything, even though I have at least a two hour drive both ways, with the possibility for traffic and hassle in Los Angeles and around the stadium. Dodger stadium is sanctuary. When I am there, it feels like my favorite place on earth.
Being at Dodger Stadium is worth all of this time spent on the journey. It's worth coming in to work an hour early, so I can get off an hour early, so I can spend two and a half hours in the car. It's worth getting home at 1 AM. I don't begrudge this late hour. That's what makes this journey a pilgrimage. Losses seen at the stadium sting less than losses viewed on television, and wins are sweeter, and shared with everyone else there. It's worth it.
Every game a fan watches or listens to is at the least a very small pilgrimage. Games are long. They are their own small journeys, three hours long, sometimes less, often more. They take up time that could be spent, perhaps better spent, doing other things. Attention can be divided, but as long as the game is on, part of every fan is with the game, on that journey.
Each game the Dodgers play is a potential sanctuary. The potential for sanctuary is not solely proportionate to how well the teams plays, whether they win or lose. It also depends on the attitude a viewer of the game brings to the game. And, significantly, it depends on the atmosphere created by the Dodger organization. It depends on how they present the game to us, either at the stadium or over the air.
The two greatest assets the Dodgers have are Vin Scully and Dodger Stadium. They are coplementary assests; they rarely overlap, unless someone has brought a radio into Dodger Stadium. What they share is a genuine, understated class. Both are poetry, presented as modest prose.
Neither will be around forever. In the case of the greatest Dodger treasure, Vin Scully, this is just the way of life. But at least, when he is no longer announcing games, Dodger Stadium will still be there. This is the truth the makes Vinny's eventual retirement bearable. The sanctuary of Dodger Stadium is potentially forever, right?
But I realize that it isn't. Even if forever is conservatively set equal to 100 years, Dodger Stadium probably won't be there at the end of forever. Things change, new generations come in. What was precious to us isn't necessarily precious to them. Anyway, buildings get old. They change.
Dodger stadium has changed a lot since 1983, when at the age of eight, I attended my first game. More advertising, more distractions, more modern noise. I think most of the changes have been for the worse. But it is still Dodger Stadium, sanctuary, the best place on earth. I just hope the Dodger organization will keep it this way for as long as possible. I want to keep making my pilgrimage.