Like the Greek Furies, three colleagues swooped in and lined up at the cubicle divider. No real Dodgers fan would back San Francisco, they said.
And it wasn't just my team loyalty they challenged. The most implacable Fury, call him Fury No. 1, cast doubt on my identity. I was not a real Angeleno, he said.
Only their glowering faces were visible as I sat cowering in my chair. I summoned my courage and retorted: Now, wait a minute, Chester, I was born here. When I was 7, my dad cut Dodger reports out of The Times and mailed them to me at summer camp.
I saw Don Drysdale pitch and spent most of the summer of 1981 (Fernandomania!) at Chavez Ravine. And you, my friend, are from Nashville.
How many Dodger games did you watch this year, start to finish? he taunted.
Twelve? I fibbed weakly.
It was on. As we jabbed back and forth, a whole universe of sports superstitions, loyalties and taboos spilled out, the more fiercely held because they are unspoken.
Fury No. 2 is a Minnesotan. She loves the Dodgers because the minor league team in St. Paul was part of the Dodgers system.
Like me, Fury No. 3 thinks the American League is lame. Why do I hate it? Well, I could say the designated hitter is an abomination. Because it is. Imagine how diminished this postseason without the playoff bunt and Series single from Giants pitcher Barry Zito. I could also say the American League is brute force, the National Leagues is strategy and finesse. Because it's true.
But those are just excuses. Honestly, I grew up on the National League and I have no interest in the American. The only team I follow, besides the Dodgers and Giants, is the Cardinals, because my dad went to school in St. Louis.
But Fury No. 3 rejects my Giants rationalizations. To her, I'm a turncoat, short and sweet.
I tried to explain that I spent my college years in the Bay Area. When the Dodgers came to town, I'd bundle up in down clothing and drive out to Candlestick Park.
From the bleachers, the diamond was sometimes hidden by swirls of fog. Giants fans burned Dodger pennants to keep warm, which I found charming. Afterward, we'd go to Chinatown for won ton soup.
Since then, I watched San Francisco turn into a baseball-crazy town. And what about that team? Baby-faced Buster Posey, with the greatest name in baseball. Pablo Sandoval, whose faux-hawk, gamboling and ample gut is helping to bring Babe Ruth antics and physique back to Major League Baseball.
Anyway, everybody has to leave L.A. for a while; you can't live here forever. …
But now I'd really stepped in it. Fury No. 3 has lived within 30 miles of Dodger Stadium her entire life. Her family had season tickets. When she turned 13, her name went up on the Dodgers' scoreboard with birthday wishes.
I backpedaled frantically: Wait I didn't mean you have to move out of L.A.! I meant my native San Fernando Valley! You can't live there forever. And what about state loyalty? The Giants, the Other California Team?
Under the Furies' verbal lashings, however, I was forced to admit I loathed the San Diego Padres. I can't conceive a single matchup I'd want the Padres to win. And the Angels might as well be the Pawtucket, R.I., Mud Hens for all I care (I've never been to Angel Stadium, but I have seen a Mud Hens game.)
Fury No. 3 gets that. She HATES the Angels. However, she did root for them in the World Series when they played the even more noxious Giants.
One of No. 3's friends is a Dodgers fan. She rooted for the Giants to beat the Cardinals in the playoffs on behalf of her sister, who lives in San Francisco, braving denunciation by her son, then switched to the Tigers because she just can't stomach seeing the Giants win it all.
I'll be watching the game tonight, but I'd kind of like the Tigers to take it. It's too soon to have all the craziness end.