Since the Dodgers have wrapped up their historic season and we are currently in the lull before the post season begins on Thursday, I thought I would divert your attention from the hard news stories to my own personal feel-good story of a recent trip to LA to see the Dodgers.
My son Matias is a die-hard Little League baseball player and a Dodger fan. At 9 years old his allegiances are set in stone. His mind is made up. “I want to see the Dodgers,” he said in response to the one place he has to go this year.
My wife and I decided that we would no longer give toys to the kids for their birthdays after many years of giving them plastic junk that breaks and is quickly discarded. We decided travel and life experiences through a father-and-son trip were much more valuable than toys that end up broken in the landfill a week later.
Matias’ favorite player has been something that was not well defined. Sometimes it was fellow Mexican Adrian Gonzalez, sometimes it was Matt Kemp, sometimes Clayton Kershaw – until this year when Yasiel Puig was called up to the big leagues and Matias saw him pick up a carom off the wall in right field and throw the runner out at second base by nearly ten feet. “Oh my!” he squealed laughing, watching the video over and over. That was all it took. Done deal.
I tried to temper his support of Puig a bit, knowing from experience that it may not last (Matias was a huge fan of the Mexican players and Luis Cruz was his hero last year and … yes, ouch!). But I soon gave up, joined in, suspended my disbelief, and got on the wonderful roller coaster ride that Puig and for that matter this season has become. Looking at it from a 9-year-old little leaguer’s perspective, Puig is a perfect fit. He is the embodiment of what every kids wants – playing the game with childish delight and reckless abandon — all in a superhuman body with a big smile.
We live in central Mexico. My wife, Chef Ana Garcia, and I run a culinary vacation destination and hotel in Tepoztlán, Morelos. I am lucky if I get in a series a year at Dodger Stadium. My wife is a culinary personality so occasionally we get lucky and can coordinate her appearances on KTLA’s Morning News at 9 in LA with a Dodger game.
I grew up in the Midwest. Being that rare species that is a Midwestern Dodger fan, I would see the Dodgers at the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. My father would always arrange for a Dodger series even though he was a Cubs fan.
My son’s birthday was coming up in August and I secretly planned a trip to Los Angeles for the up-coming interleague series between the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox (Matias’ second favorite team). I contacted Ron Cervenka from ThinkBlueLA.com and with his help I purchased tickets right across the aisle from him in the Left Field Pavilion in the first row directly above the San Manuel Casino sign on the left field wall. I have never been a “bleacher bum.” Being a pitcher, we always preferred to sit behind the plate, even if in the nosebleed section but Ron convinced me that LFP would be a great experience and with his season ticket holder passes we would be able to get into Dodger Stadium early for BP where we might even get a batting practice ball or two.
For Matias’ birthday my mother brought down to Mexico a Puig jersey and I made a special birthday card flyer tucked in an envelope hidden way down at the bottom of the gift bag that the jersey came in.
He didn’t immediately see the envelope at the bottom as planned. While he was very happy with the jersey, he had a look of “is that it?” I told him to look again and after finding the flyer squeals of joy erupted.
To be continued…