A League of Her Own

by Bryan Friedman in Daddy's Corner

Now that the dust has settled on the baseball season and I’m [mostly] emotionally recovered from Clayton Kershaw’s spectacular NLCS meltdown and the thrill of seeing the “emotionless” Cardinals lose the World Series Boston Red Sox win their first World Series at Fenway in 95 years, I’ve been able to reflect on what turned out to be a very special season of baseball for me.

It’s true that even before Madelyn was born, I was planning her Dodger fandom, and we started her at a very early age with her first baseball game in seats that will spoil her for the rest of her life. But I think this was the season where we solidified the Dodger Blue blood in Madelyn’s veins — Tommy Lasorda would be proud.


The season started out, though, the same as any other. Like every year before this one (but especially this one with the enormous expectations of the new Dodger ownership), I started the spring with high hopes for season. I signed up for my two fantasy baseball leagues, got excited every night to watch the games on TV, and showed my usual childlike jubilee at the mere sound of Vin Scully’s signature time for Dodger baseball!”

It was less than two weeks after Opening Day that my first lasting memory from the season occurred, and it wasn’t a pretty one. I remember being extremely amped up after Greinke was injured in the brawl with the PadresI read a ton of articles, got vocal on Facebook, and watched whatever clips of news and opinions about the mound-charging that I could. And while this incident was the not the sole reason for the Dodgers’ historic spring collapse, it seemed to be the catalyst for mine.

By the end of May, I was in full avoidance mode. I don’t think I’ve followed baseball less in my adult life than I did between May and June of 2013. You practically could not pay me to watch a baseball game it seemed. And while the Dodgers’ 23-30 record on June 1st certainly contributed to my lack of interest, it wasn’t the only reason for it. I mean, I’m used to having low expectations so I can deal with regular mediocrity and losing — I’m a lifelong Dodgers fan! This year I think it was just life getting in my way. Between both my job and my daughter requiring more and more attention, I just found myself not able to make the time to watch the game, set my fantasy lineup, or even read the box score the following morning. To top it all off, Alison and I were in the midst of House Watch 2013, dealing with selling our condo, looking for a new place, buying it, moving in, and getting the kitchen remodeled. Not a lot of room for baseball there unfortunately.

Even as the Dodgers surged after the All Star break with the emergence of Yasiel Puig and a string of wins that literally turned around their season, I couldn’t summon my usual level of excitement and interest. It was like “Oh cool, they’re winning now. Isn’t that nice?” Of course, it probably didn’t help that we didn’t get to attend hardly any games during the first half of the season. With everything that was going on, we just couldn’t find the time to make it out to the stadium. Until we finally did.

We were lucky enough to get invited to go to a string of two or three games between August and September, and having just settled into our new house, we finally were really able to make the time — and it was just in time. Of course, we would bring Madelyn along with us, but after our experiences with her last season at the games, I always figured we’d be lucky to make it to the seventh-inning stretch with her. Except things were different this year. She was…really into it. Like, really into it.

Madelyn introduces Lovey to baseball!

She rarely got fussy, and as long as she always had some peanuts or Cracker Jack (or strawberries or raisins or apple sauce or ice cream or…) she stayed engaged in the game. I mean, she actually watched the game and pointed when something interesting went down and looked at me or Poppa as if to say “what just happened?” She’s a baseball fan! It took me right back to my youth when I would ask my dad or my grandpa something so I could learn about the game. Every time M’s face lit up I wanted to explain to her what a balk was, when you might try a hit-and-run, or why they can’t just pitch Kershaw every single day.

Madelyn is thinking, “Come on guys! Enough with the pictures. I’m trying to watch the game!”

We’ve taught her well! This kid knows how to enjoy the ballpark experience.

Poppa explains the intricacies of the game.

But we didn’t even have to physically be at Chavez Ravine for her excitement to kick in. There were some nights when she would sit quietly next to me on the couch, with her head on my lap, and watch three or four innings of the game with me without moving or getting distracted. Anytime a baseball game [of any kind with any team] was on TV at home or in a restaurant, she would eagerly point at the screen and pronounce “Poppa!” as if her beloved Poppa was the starting pitcher that night. (Usually, of course, she learned that he was actually there in his brother’s front row seats and could be seen on TV.)

For dinner she insisted I sit next to her at the table and watch the game, but is there anything better than cuddling on the couch to watch?

There’s Poppa!

And so, I have to thank my daughter for bringing baseball back to me, even though I only lost it for a brief moment in time — she reinvigorated my love for the game. And while the Dodgers winning and making it to the playoffs didn’t hurt this resurgence either, I credit Madelyn’s love for the “Dodders” and her enthusiastic cries of “Go bwew!” for bringing me all the way back. In fact, my interest reached such levels that when we decided that Alison and Madelyn would tag along with me on my business trip to San Francisco, I couldn’t resist getting us tickets to the Giants-Dodgers game and braving AT&T park with my girls. Sure enough, like the true fan that she is, Madelyn made it through all nine innings and then some, as they practically had to kick us out of the place.

Once again Madelyn is trying to watch the action while we are busy trying to capture the moment.

So of course now I can’t wait until next season when she’s a little older and maybe I actually can explain to her the difference between a force out and a tag, or why we shouldn’t/should/shouldn’t bunt in a certain spot, or why you always hustle to first. At the very least, I hope she has the same excitement as I did as a kid when she finds out she gets to go to the game — and maybe I will match her excitement too and make sure not to let it fade ever again. As Madelyn would say, “Go Dodders!”

Two of Madelyn’s favorite things in the whole world put together: “Ditty and Dodders!”

  1. Mimi
    11/3/2013 2:24 PM

    Another enjoyable account of Daddy’s thoughts & commentary for lucky little Madelyn. It’s so wonderful that Madelyn can read the back stories & see the photos that lead up to her family outings & love for her (& her Daddy’s) “Dodders!”
    I don’t think Daddy will have any worries in regards to the comment at the end of “Baby’s Night Out”—
    “And if we’re ever at the ballpark with her and the game is tied in the 8th inning, I can’t wait to see if she’ll beg to stay, just for one more inning, to see if the Dodgers win…

    …hey, a dad can dream.”

    Based on Madelyn’s enthusiasm during this season at just 2 years old, I have no doubt that she’ll be very excited & willing to stay at the stadium until the parking lot has emptied out!
    xoxo Mimi

  2. Pattie
    11/2/2013 8:41 PM

    oh sigh!! Happy tears flowing down my cheeks. This little princess better appreciate these wonderful tributes to her every growing moment. Such a treasure for her. Love you ALL!!! Love these blogs! Love the pictures.