At the time of my arrival in California, the Reds were on the verge of a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, a feat last accomplished in the fading memory of my childhood. Frankly, it felt like a dream. After I woke early on an air mattress in my buddies’ North Hollywood apartment, blessed by sunlight, a cool breeze through the window, and the possibility of watching a baseball game at 9:30am. I began to believe in the paradise descriptions people had always used to celebrate California.
Mike Leake started that Thursday game for the Cardinals, and I felt that expectation of pain, altogether too familiar to Reds fans, that everything possible would go wrong. Of course it would be the functional and beloved starter we sent off in the desperate and unknowing longing that is the rebuilding process, the man who stole our hearts and our t-shirts, who would join forces with the enemy to scramble our hopes. I knew, or thought I knew, that Mike Leake was going to leave our hitters guessing.
But he didn’t. The Reds chased Leake on ten hits in five innings. Scott Feldman baffled the Cardinals over seven scoreless. Votto launched a two-run dinger in the sixth, and the Reds looked like world beaters. The foundation of the Cardinals empire was crumbling as they lost seven straight division games. Feldman’s performance was inspiring, it put in me an actual hope that the Reds’ rotation was finding solid ground.
The night of the sweep, we drank whiskey sours made with lemons picked right from the tree in my friends’ backyard. We had arranged to see the Reds in LA and San Diego. In the excitement of the sweep, everything in California seemed golden.
The Dodgers introduced me back to reality. After convincingly beating the shit out of the Reds on Friday, Corey Seager walked it off in the 9th on Saturday. On Sunday, we ventured down to Vin Scully Ave. to see the finale. The Reds smacked the shit out of the ball, and the previous two losses seemed a forgettable little blip as Raisel Iglesias took the mound. Kiké Hernandez, that little shit, fouled off ball after ball, incrementally inciting the Dodgers crowd. The atmosphere of Dodger Stadium was unhinged. Their fans were rabid for the comeback victory.
Corey Seager’s grand slam landed right in front of us.
The Reds have a terrible track record on the West Coast, at least by myth and memory. I’m not looking up any records of past years for fear of mental trauma. I began to write off the sweep by the Dodgers. They are, by nearly every standard, a better team than the Reds. It happens, right? Everything will be better when we get to San Diego, right?
<Loud, Wet, Fart Noise>