The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Hey Dodger fans, its for you—I think its the Apocalypse calling….” By Brad Eastland

December 11, 2011
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     When the Orange County Angels (uh, excuse me, Artie, I mean “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”) signed Albert Pujols last week, somehow seducing baseball’s best player away from the best baseball town in America, St. Louis, it got me to thinking.

     The world has changed so much since I was a kid.

Bo Belinsky was the Joe Namath of baseball.

Bo Belinsky was the Joe Namath of baseball.




     When I was a kid I never liked the Dodgers but I freely admit I reveled and luxuriated in the reassuring kind of order they brought to Los Angeles.   At least I knew where things stood.   And make no mistake about it.   From the moment they moved here from Brooklyn in 1958, and for a very long time thereafter, the Dodgers ruled this town.   This was not a Rams town or even a Lakers town, not at its heart.   This was a Dodger town.  

     That’s even what we called it; Dodgertown.

     And the Angels?   Just another twisted experiment in baseball expansion, just one more forgettable team to fill out the American League.   In those early years of the Dodgers/Angels rivalry that wasn’t a rivalry, namely the 60s and 70s which encapsulated my youth, while the Dodgers were winning multiple National League pennants (in ’63, ’65, ’66, ’74, ’77 and ’78) the Angels weren’t winning anything.   It wasn’t that they were a joke.   They would have had to have raised their game quite a bit to climb up to the level of a joke.   When you thought of the Angels back then you thought of a weird, carnival-troupe collection of colorful yet underachieving ballplayers.   Like Albie Pearson, who was only about four feet tall (I think he was a dwarf).   Like pitcher Bo Belinsky, who lost almost twice as many games as he won but managed to parlay good looks and one lucky no-hitter into instant celebrity.   You gotta give this former pool hustler and future alcoholic credit for spending the 60s making it with every movie star in sight; including Ann-Margret, Tina Louise, Connie Stevens, Mamie Van Doren, and 1965 Playboy ‘playmate of the year’ Jo Collins.   And then there was Jim Fregosi, a good player, but so bland and ordinary that when you bought a pack of baseball cards you were practically guaranteed to get a Fregosi card inside, and I mean every pack, every time.   I think I once owned as many as 17 Jim Fregosi baseball cards.   We used them to line the soles and cover the holes in the bottom of our tennis shoes.   


     Then in the 80s, during the Tommy Lasorda Era, the Dodgers brought home two World Championships, in ’81 and ’88.   Along with ’59, ’63, and ’65, back when Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale dominated hitters from both sides of the rubber, that made five World Series titles for the Dodgers since moving to L.A.   The Angeles still had none.   They couldn’t even decide on their own name.   First it was The Los Angeles Angels (which when you think about it, translated loosely, is “The The Angels Angels”), then The California Angels, then The Anaheim Angels, and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, good grief.   At least by the end of the 60s they’d long since moved out of the Dodgers’ ballpark and down to Orange County, to their own stadium, and to wait out rest of the century in a more private, genteel sort of obscurity.

     But then things slowly stated to change.

     The Dodgers went through a 23-year period of baseball hell, which, of course, they are still in the middle of.   They have not won a pennant or a World Series since 1988.   In fact, they won only one playoff game between 1988 and 2008.   Back in the day, could you ever have imagined the Los Angeles Dodgers going 20 years and winning only one post-season game?   Worse that that, they have been an utter embarrassment, to themselves and to our city, in so many other ways.   This includes the comical reign of GM  Kevin “Dodger Boy” Malone (who boldly described the wonderfulness of his getting his GM position as “there’s a new sheriff in town”), the O’Malley family selling the team, then the horrible stewardship of the Fox empire, and the even greater embarrassments of the Frank and Jamie McCourt Era, from their messy public divorce to their horrible concessions food to bloated player contracts to crushing debt to the McCourts using the Dodgers as their own no-limit credit card (One of Jamie McCourt’s $20-million dollar houses was reportedly used “exclusively for swimming”, and she also had $100,000 charged directly to the Dodgers over the course of one year….for flowers!   It was like a bad TV movie about greed, sloth, and excess.).   On a less amusing note, a fan was shot and killed in the parking lot a few years ago.   And then just last year Brian Stow was beaten half to death in the parking lot.   That’s one unsafe parking lot, people.   No wonder Major League Baseball seized control of this team and demanded the McCourts blow town.

     And conversely, by the dawn of the 21st century the Angels had taken control of Los Angeles, at least as far as baseball is concerned.   Under their scrappy manager Mike Scioscia (the former Dodgers catcher from that last championship team in ‘88, ironically and fittingly), the Halos won it all in 2002.   I still don’t quite know how they did it but they did it.   Scioscia has now been the Angels’ manager for almost 12 years, leading them to the playoffs six times and winning two Manager Of The Year awards.   But since Lasorda retired in 1996, the Dodgers have gone through seven managers, in only 15 years.   Seven.

     And now?   The Dodgers are coming off the most embarrassing season in their history, while the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—the town “Los Angeles” safely and smugly back in their name for half a dozen years now, thanks to clever owner Artie Moreno, even though they play way down in Disneyland— have just signed Albert Pujols.   Albert Freaking Pujols.   Wow.

     Things go in cycles.   Things change.   I know all of us are worried about the economy, wondering if and when it will rebound.   But you shouldn’t worry.   If the Dodgers of Koufax and Drysdale can go from iconic franchise to local municipal joke, and the Angels of Albie Pearson, Bo Belinsky, and Jim Fregosi can go from a sideshow joke to practically standing astride the baseball world, our depleted 401Ks can and will surely rally, and ease us back into a safe, cushy retirement.   Have faith.

     In the meantime, it’s a weird world we live in.   Somewhere, Bo Belinsky is laughing his ass off….





meet….The Sports Philosopher!

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered literary giant, and humble guardian of baseball history and mythology and stuff like that.   Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels* and over 20 short-stories.
*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, of triumph, and of utter despair, WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for it on,, or   And then order it.   And then READ it.   He thanks you.





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