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Hold on there. You’re supposed to be a Reds fan.

Submitted by on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 4 Comments

You remember the sweet little baby he used to be, and you wonder how it all went sideways.

You tried to raise him right – before he was born you ordered a onsie from your favorite team, and you glowed when you saw the Cincinnati wishbone C across his tiny diapered butt.

A year later, you jumped when a friend offered his primo seats to a day game he couldn’t make it to in San Francisco. It was against the Cincinnati, and you were thrilled that it would be your darling little boy’s first major league game. You glowed with pride when a player’s relative pointed to him in his tiny pinstripes and cooed, “Look! That baby plays for the Reds!”

Before you know it, though, he’s 8 and off to baseball camp in LaLa Land. He’s sporting the gear and staring goggle-eyed at the stadium, while ever Tommy Lasagne-hating fiber of your soul recoils. Even worse, you wind up having to like one Dodger player at least a little after he becomes a hero in your child’s eyes.

Where, oh where did I go wrong?

It’s tempting to blame the Army – the LA Dodgers are the closest Major League team to Fort Irwin – though it’s also a bit his father’s fault. His constant harping about the Dodgers is a direct violation of our pre-nup. Any offspring resulting from the marriage were to be raised as Laker fans, because I don’t give a flip about the NBA, in exchange for baseball being my territory. I think I need to take him to court on this.

Big Guy tried his best to keep the peace, though he was conflicted mightily a few months back when a Dodgers series in Cincinnati was televised. I tried not to pressure him (much) though I have to say I was pleased when he decided to (mostly) root, root, root for the home team.

But when the list of summer camps offered on post came out (see? It is the Army’s fault) and baseball wasn’t listed, Big Guy asked if I could find one somewhere else. Sadly, I did. Dodger Stadium.

I thought of Steve Garbage, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes and wanted to wretch. I forced myself to instead consider two Dodgers I was slightly less hostile toward. How could anyone hate Steve Yeager after he survived a splintered bat to the throat and, face it, Don Sutton’s antics were flat funny even if he did do a lot of it to make Sparky Anderson go cuckoo.

OK, I can do this, I decided. I’ll take one for the team.

As we walked back to the hotel after the first day ended, I knew I’d made the right call.

“Was there anything you didn’t like about camp?” I asked.

“I can’t think of a thing,” he sighed, dopey grin affixed to his face.

For the rest of the afternoon I consoled myself that, while he had trouble remembering who he listed as his favorite Dodger on the camp registration form, he can recite half of the Reds’ starting lineup. My team’s still ahead. Whew.

That was before we went to Monday night’s game, where Big Guy watched centerfielder Matt Kemp toss balls into the cheap seats during the entire game. Big Guy, of course, wanted one to come his way. Wanted it with all the passion an 8-year-old can muster. Wanted it worse than he wants s’mores after we grill out.

It was moving on toward 10 and Boots was innings beyond fussy when I told Big Guy it was time to go. “You can stay until Kemp comes back out on the field to play defense,” I said. “After that, we need to go.”

Big Guy stood in the aisle, jumping up and down, waving his yards and yelling, “Kemp! Kemp!” As I waited for his heart to break, Kemp pointed into the stands, and the security guard pointed at Big Guy. Kemp nodded, and the guard ushered Big Guy toward the railing. Kemp trotted almost to the outfield wall and gently tossed the ball toward the railing. I held my breath. “Please don’t let him drop it. Please don’t let him drop it,” I prayed.

Big Guy leaned and stretched over the railing. He bare-handed the ball and quickly pulled it toward his chest. His grin thanked Kemp even if he didn’t remember to yell the words before the player was trotting away.

Curse you, Kemp. I just can’t hate you or your team anymore. Not as much as I used to, at least.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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