It's Tuesday, 10 a.m. We have packed only one shirt, one pair of socks. The bag to L.A. could hold lots, lots more, but bringing another shirt would involve admitting the possibility that we might need another shirt, which would mean that we doubted that the Astros could win the World Series in six games, which might cause the baseball gods to look unfavorably on us and force the team into a game seven, which would turn us into a panic-stricken, gelatinous mess in the Dodgers press box, a quivering nutcase in a dirty shirt.
Baseball has done this to us. Not long ago, we were functioning members of society. Only yesterday, in fact, we were keeping up with current events, preferring CNN over endless repeats of “Baseball Tonight” on the MLB Network. We focused on our own woes, not those of the Astros’ bullpen. We looked askance at women wearing orange eyeshadow. Our mothers did not text us to ask why people call Yuli Gurriel La Piña, our kids did not demand fades like Marwin’s. We never felt once compelled to ask strangers in Walmart what they thought about Alex Bregman’s walk-off.
And we certainly wouldn’t have done what we’re about to do now—embark on a suicidal mission deep into enemy territory. There are blue caps everywhere, we have been told, and hostile confrontations are to be expected. Los Angelenos are determined to defend their homeland at all costs, it seems, and to that end are willing to violate the Geneva Conventions with impunity.
The questions grow louder and more urgent as we arrive at the airport: Why enlist for this? What sort of insane patriotism has taken hold? Why not just stay home? Why not watch the battle from afar?
Besides, we’ve done our time. We’ve charged into Chavez Ravine before, watched as the mighty ’Stros lost and won amid the thunderous roar of 56,000. We cheered the latter, mourned the former, and swore that we would never put ourselves through the nail-biting tension of it all ever again.
We are at the point of turning the car around when suddenly we catch sight of them, up ahead, on the departures level of Terminal A. Astros fans. Dozens of them. In line at the Starbucks and the American Airlines counter and the security checkpoints. Reinforcements have arrived. We park.
Boarding the plane to L.A., at first we distrust the sea of orange we see—it is also Halloween, after all. But they are on every row we pass—enormous men in equally enormous Brewston shirts and tiny women sporting kid-sized caps—and the anxiety leaves us, at least for the moment. We will not be fighting this war alone.
‘Stro Stories will continue to file reports from L.A. throughout the rest of the World Series. Check back here for updates before, during and after the game(s), or follow us on Twitter.