Okay, Dodger fans … just remember this column and speak of me kindly.
In other words, this is proof that a Giants fan is more than capable of being gracious enough to say something nice about the home team. Even me. And even when it’s the hated (by me, at least) Dodgers.
Actually, to be fair, I don’t really “hate” the Dodgers. Hate is a strong word, an ugly word. It’s just something we guys say when talking about sports in order to make a point. I hate this guy, I hate that guy, I hate this team, I hate that team, I hate A-Rod, I hate Bud Selig, that sort of thing. The word hate exists only within the sweet shibboleth of the game. (And on that basis, sure, I do hate the Dodgers….)
But I am also fair. And the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers (it must fairly be said) are doing things no other Dodgers team has ever done before. Like setting a franchise record for consecutive road victories. Like setting a record for consecutive victories in one-run games. Like going from nine games back to nine games in front all within a breathtaking summer of near-perfect baseball. They have been the hottest team in baseball for over TWO MONTHS! They’re even hotter than one of those pornographic Carl’s Jr. TV commercials….
But they’ve done even more than that. More than any baseball team in any city in the last 70 years. They recently had a 50-game stretch where they went 42 and 8. You know how many baseball teams since World War II have gone 42 and 8? None. As in zero.
Which makes the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers—at least as far as the regular season is concerned—the greatest baseball team of my entire lifetime.
How did this happen?
The short answer is “I don’t know”. And I know a lot about sports.
Yes, these 2013 Dodgers have some very good ballplayers. But nothing like the Dodgers of the 50s, a team of Hall-of-Famers like Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson. Or the Dodgers of the 60s, featuring all-time greats the ilk of Koufax, Drysdale, Tommie Davis, and Mr. Maurice Morning “Maury” Wills. Or the Dodgers of the 70s, a team bloated and over-loaded with stars, stars like Sutton, Garvey, Cey, Russell, Lopes, Reggie Smith, Mike Marshall, Dusty Baker, and Bill Buckner. Those were all better teams with better players, right? Championship teams, right?
Right. But none of those teams ever went 42 and 8. Nothing ever even close to 42 and 8.
Well, since it’s not the players, I guess it must be some sort of magic.
Magic indeed. As in Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
As most of you know, Magic Johnson is part of the new ownership group who took over running the Dodgers last year. Magic is a very lucky guy. He lucked out winding up on the Lakers, and five championships followed. After his retirement from basketball he lucked out in every business venture he tried. This guy is so lucky even AIDS couldn’t kill him.
And now Magic’s magic touch has infected the Dodgers.
Take Ned Colletti. Ned was a good General Manager before Magic arrived. But since then, he has suddenly become a friggin’ genius. His many fine player acquisitions are the key to the Dodgers’ success. In just the last year, this is who Ned has gone out and got: He got Zack Greinke, a brilliant right-hander who now teams with lefty Clay Kershaw to form by far the finest one-two pitching punch in baseball. He got Adrian Gonzalez from Boston, “A-Gon” (as opposed to A-Rod), one of baseball’s best pure hitters. Also from Boston came Carl Crawford and Nick Punto, a fine lead-off man and a very valuable off-the-bench utility guy. He got Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins, who admittedly behaves like an irritating little punk most of the time but who is also the best hitting shortstop in the National League. And he paid 42 million bucks for his own Cuban defector, Yasiel Puig, the sparkplug who started it all, and who, on any given day, can be both the best and the worst player in the game at the same time.
Thanks to Magic and his fellow owner boys’ deep pockets, the Dodgers are suddenly the best team money can buy. Literally.
But not good enough to go 42 and 8. Not talent-wise. They accomplished that miracle not because they are better than the Dodgers of the 50s, 60s, or 70s. They aren’t better. They’ve just played better. They have re-defined the limits of sports overachievement.
And that’s the best compliment I could ever pay them.
So congratulations to the Dodgers. What a great run, what a great comeback, what a fabulous summer of unprecedented clutch and winning baseball you have given this sleepy old pueblo town. Congratulations to the many success-starved Dodger-loving friends of mine who read this column, Blue-dipped friends like John Foran, Dwight Garcia, and Doc Tassinari; you guys were due for some good Dodger moments for a change! Well done Ned and Magic. Well done Clay, Zack, Puig, and A-Gon. Well done. You all did a great, great job. You have boldly and dynamically wrested the NL West flag from my beloved San Francisco Giants. Congratulations on becoming the new NL West champs.
It’ll make it that much sweeter when you guys lose in the playoffs.
Sorry. I just couldn’t resist.
meet….The Sports Philosopher!
Brad Eastland is an author, an historian, a film buff, an undiscovered literary savant, and a big fan of Yasiel Puig….even though he’s on the Dodgers. 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’. His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’. Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.
*Brad has a new book out. It’s called “L.A. JOURNAL”, a collection of short-stories about Los Angeles. To pick up a copy simply search for that title in both hardback and paperback on amazon.com, iUniverse.com, or bn.com. And then order it. And then READ it. And then tell everyone about it. And then read it again. And then post your praise on Facebook. And then read it again. Okay? For all this and all your support he thanks you from the bottom of his tired and cynical old heart…..
The author’s official website is www.authorstourusa.com/Brad-Eastland.html