Thursday, February 6, 2014

Your Ex-Girlfriend is Rich, or Why I Can't Go Back to the Dodgers

I grew up a Dodgers fan. For many years after I moved to the East Coast--for college and the decade after--I followed Dodgers baseball from afar. Unfortunately, that period (1994-2007) was probably the worst stretch in the history of the franchise, and eventually distance did what it always does, and we fell out of love. By the time I moved to the Bay Area for work in 2007, I was basically no longer interested in professional baseball. Then in 2010, a local team of misfits and castoffs won the World Series. This was the year of Aubrey Huff's red thong and Brian Wilson's beard. To all the Dodger fans getting ready to close this browser window, I ask you: What could I do? The Giants were lovable, and THEY ACTUALLY WON GAMES.

So I changed my allegiance. In truth I'm agnostic when it comes to pro baseball--I just love the game--but Giants and A's games are what I get for free on my radio, and those are the teams I can see in person without getting on a plane. As a friend of mine said recently, "I'd watch the Marlins play the Rockies if somebody turned it on." I would, too, although I recognize that it's more fun to watch when you've got skin in the game.

Very recently the Dodgers got good again. The new owner is pouring money into Chavez Ravine, and even conservative prognosticators are predicting the team to win a hundred games in 2014. The farm system is apparently healthy again, and they've locked up their most important young stars. Now would be a good time to move my allegiance back to L.A.

But I can't--and it has nothing to do with the Giants. To me (and I imagine lots of fans still angry from the McCourt years) the Dodgers are like an ex-girlfriend who, ten years after you broke up, shows up on the cover of a magazine. She looks good, much better than you remember, and she's gotten rich. So what do you do? Swallow your pride and send an email of congratulations? That would be nice, but who does that? (Not you. Be honest.)

It has become a cliche to say that the Dodgers have become the Yankees. Not for me. I have always hated the Yankees. To continue the girlfriend analogy, the Yankees are the girl who never even knew your name in high school, because she was dating college guys. When she turns up on the cover of a magazine, you don't get that knot in your stomach, because it's nothing new for her. She's always been on magazine covers. The Dodgers are different. The Dodgers have a long history of sucking. In fact to the day he died, my grandfather, who loved the Dodgers as a boy in New York, called them "Da Bums."

So what will I do? Probably keep listening to the Giants and A's. I'll watch the Dodgers if someone turns them on. I might even cheer for them. If they're playing the Yankees.


  1. The real question is who would you find yourself rooting for if the Giants played the Dodgers and you were at the game? Say a game late in the season with playoff implications?

    I am an Angels fan which may or may not be worse than being a Dodgers fan. Back in 2002 when the Angels finally put it all together they actually played my local adopted team in the World Series. There was no question who I was in bed with... I ditched the new and was with the ex immediately!

  2. As a St. Louis Cardinals fan (Distance, for me, did not create the requisite falling out you mentioned. Rather. like religion, the Birds on the Bat were ingrained in my baseball identity.), I very much approve this message. Like you, I simply love the game. I grew up listening to Jack Buck on the radio during the long summer days. We'd all lie down on the dry grass with the radio blaring, staring up into the sun and imagining the stadium smells. The small-town, Midwest ethos of the Cardinals appeals to me, still. And oddly enough, the quirky ethos of the Giants is similarly appealing. What offends me in baseball is the big-market approach of buying talent, luxury tax be damned. The Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, and Red Sox (I'd say the Angels but they seem to have bought only deep disappointment.) embody this brand of team building, which is anathema to everything I revere about the game.

  3. I'm surprised you thought your granddad referring to the Dodgers as "Da Bums" meant he thought they were lousy. The Dodger nickname refers to hobos & others who "dodge" responsibility. Throughout Dodger history in newspapers and journals the Dodgers were depicted as cigar smoking bums with patches on their clothes. When I refer to the Red Sox as the Bosox or theCrimson Hose my grandkids have no idea what I'm talking about. But you're a writer with a love for baseball. There's no excuse for you not knowing this.