Another series win… ho hum. The Red Sox in town tomorrow, with the great John Lackey, one of Theo’s greatest moments, on the bump for the Red Sox vs. Ricky Nolasco… yawn.
It’s a great time to be a Dodgers fan, especially newfound Dodgers fans who are either very young and gravitate towards anything trendy, displaced Lakers fans who are bored because the Lakers suck and will suck for years, aggressive Raiders fans with nothing to do before another losing Raiders season starts, or just people who like to hit beach balls, drink overpriced beers, and talk about how they want to blow hunky Dodgers.
At any rate, as someone who has watched the Dodgers for more decades than he cares to admit here, things are great but perhaps a little bittersweet and confusing. How? Let me explain…
First of all – Dodger Therapy started as a place where long-suffering Dodgers fans could come talk it out. The couch was always open – sort of like Tommy’s burgers, or Pink’s. The notion was – you’re down in the dumps, life sucks, the Dodgers haven’t been good really since the end of “The Infield.” There was a lot of pain to go around and good reason to meet. Now? Not so much.
It’s wonderful things are going well – very well – and the future is incredibly bright with international signings and draft picks stockpiling for the coming seasons, but is this the Dodgers? I mean, I feel like a spoiled New England Patriots fan, or a Yankees fan whose only frame of reference to their rich history was the winning during Joe Torre’s time as manager.
It’s hard to wrap my brain around this juggernaut. I mean, it’s great, it’s fun, and I play mind games with myself to keep things interesting. Can the team reach .500? Yes. Can they get to 10 games over .500? Yes. 20 games over .500? Yes. Can they get the best record in the NL? In baseball?
I think part of the malaise is the lack of connection to the team thanks to Time Warner not showing channel 9 road games. I know, there are links out there, but I don’t like to be held hostage in front of my laptop. I like to sit down on the couch and wolf down some food and watch on my large television. Fuck you, Time Warner.
Then there are the fans, which I alluded to earlier. I think younger fans are interested in winning in general. They don’t have the pain points older fans do. I don’t even know if they’re really Dodgers fans, or just fans of winning. Modern winning manifests in poor behavior, so I identify winning sadly with poor behavior. Cocky fans who cuss unnecessarily and talk shit to other teams’ fans – some deserving, some not. To me, these fans aren’t all that different than the morons who beat people into comas in the McCourt era, or screamed the N word at Milton Bradley. In fact, I hesitate to guess many are the same people.
I see enough poor behavior driving around this city, so I don’t like the connection to be drawn (even if just in my head) to the thing I have obsessed about most of my life.
Then again, perhaps it’s just more fun to complain and look for ways for the team to wriggle out of a fix and persevere. When all is good – too good – it’s less interesting for someone like me who likes to analyze, predict three moves ahead, second guess management, etc. I know, I know, this is my own hang up, but I’m sure I’m not alone. And if I am, oh well.
I wonder sometimes if there are other old fans out there. People who are middle aged or older, you know the type – they wear ugly Dodger hats with giveaway pins all over them and still bring a radio to hear Vin on the radio at games. And what about Vin himself? How does he feel about all this?
Is Vin happy (relieved) the team may finally make the World Series, win, so he can retire? If this amazing team wins, it would be dumb for Vin not to seriously consider quitting. Why not leave on a high note? No one deserves the team winning more than Vin, who had to smile during the Fox era and pretend Frank McCourt was good for the team and the city. Imagine calling games when players on the field were Antonio Perez, Jason Grabowski, Jason Phillips, Oscar Robles, Hee-Seop Choi, etc.? God, what a good soldier Vin has been.
And that makes me sad. If Vin watches this Dodgers team win, he’ll leave… or could. Think about that. Perhaps the only connection to the Dodger tradition old fucks like I think about too frequently is Vin. Not much about the game or sports in general, is the same anymore.
The records don’t mean anything as we all know the players cheat. The players cheat because there’s very little reason for them not to. The game is dirty and the commissioner, a former owner, does whatever he can to allow the present owners to make money. So Vin has to call games where an (allegedly) juiced guy in San Francisco with an expanding head shatters home run records broken just before by other chemically enhanced sluggers. Vin calls the MVP from Milwaukee who is loaded, and even had to laud LA’s own cheats, such as Paul LoDuca and Eric Gagne.
This has become a way of life for modern sports fans, and they don’t mind the deception much because after all, it’s cool. Home runs are cool, higher and higher personal statistics and game scores are cool. Cheating is part of life. Just check Instagram and deal with it.
Anyway, for a traditionalist, I’m at a split in the road. I love the winning, and after 32 years of ups and many, many downs, I deserve this. I had to sit through Fox’ corporate ownership and Dodgers choking flight attendants on return flights from SF. I had to watch Tommy put his arms around the McCourts and listen to Frank sit in with Vin during games (something no one does) and felt nauseous listening to a privileged Boston parking lot heir arrogantly talking about the thing I love more than anything but a maybe few family members. So now what?
Logic says to go along with it. See if the team can win the Series, cheer for them, root Brian Wilson and his psychosis on, knowing his existence in LA pisses off Giants fans big-time, but what about the fake fans who have infested the team’s bandwagon? The girls who purse their lips into duck faces and talk about how dreamy Matt Kemp is, or Yasiel Puig? What about the thuggy fans with bad tats they’ll regret later, who misspell every other word in their tweets and emulate Bieber’s look? What about the phonies who inhabit the pricey seats McCourt installed behind the plate that don’t look up from their phones the whole game? Or the tragically painful announcing done by Collins, Lyons and Steiner? Where the fuck is Ross Porter? Is this the best broadcasting has to offer?
I know, the game has changed. Sports have changed. Society has changed. If you don’t get it, you’re not meant to. My decomposed body will be sprinkled into the asphalt used to create a new overpass on the 5 freeway. I’m old, out of touch, not edgy or cool. I need to wear my pants lower, load up on tats and smoke electric cigarettes. This is not my time anymore. Move over, old man, let the cool kids watch. Sabermetrics prove, after all, that heart, speed, defense, and team chemistry don’t matter. Cheer for players who don’t fundamentally know how to play the game, but look pretty fucking hot doing it.
This is my feeble attempt to bring some angst to the therapy table. It’s uneventful and dull to cheer mindlessly like mental patients at a Miley Cyrus concert. What happens when your always reliable sad sack of a team, a group you could count on for more than 30 years to fuck things up, suddenly doesn’t? Ahh, such a quandary. For a person who has grown comfortable relating to the horrible comedic misadventures of the team that used to be the Dodgers, it’s foreign to look up each day and see a W in the win column and boastful comments from the fans you don’t at all identify with.
Where have the ushers in the straw hats gone? The pin wearing fans that kept score by hand and had interesting stories of Wes Parker, Sweet Lou Johnson, Junior Gilliam, and more? It’s a different time, a different breed of Dodgers fans, and a different type of everything. Evolve or die. Or comment in your personal therapy session.