I Can’t Believe I Am Writing About the Dodgers

There are certain subjects that are just too painful for a Diamondbacks fan to write about. There is the 2004 season when the Diamondbacks were bitten by the curse of Richie Sexson and the subsequent 111-losses that year. There is the four game sweep by the “great Troy Tulowitzki” and the hated Colorado Rockies in last year’s 2007 National League Championship Series. And then there is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Los Angeles thing takes a little bit of explaining and even I don’t fully understand it completely. It’s not so much a Diamondbacks versus Dodgers thing as it is a Phoenix versus Los Angeles thing.

As near as I can put together, Phoenix has this inferiority complex when it comes to Los Angeles and has had for quite some time. Part of this may stem from the fact that while the Phoenix area boasts franchises in all four major sports (I am being generous including hockey as a major sport), Phoenix is still a basketball town. There is a heated rivalry between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers. They has a lot to do with the fact that these two teams are both in the Western Conference and always seem to face each other every season in the play-offs. Los Angeles has always had success while the Suns are still looking for their first championship. The Lakers and their fans are not shy about reminding Suns fans of this fact which tends to get on the nerves of Phoenix fans. Before Arizona had a Major League Baseball franchise they were the long-time home of the San Francisco Giants Triple-A affiliate. As any baseball fan knows the Giants and Dodgers fans barely tolerate each other further alienating the Phoenix fan from the Dodgers. It didn’t help that Major League Baseball deemed Phoenix an LA market meaning that it was Dodger games that were on television and radio again much to the chagrin of Arizona fans. So when the Arizona Diamondbacks came into the league it was only appropriate that they would be placed in the National League Western Division where they would face their nemesis on several occasions. Dodger games are almost always some of the most crowded games at Chase Field. The influx of blue and white against the sea of Sedona Red almost always results in a few altercations in the stands. Of course that is fueled by the vendors who are handing out cards at each gate to the stadium with the simple message of “Beat LA” emblazoned across the page. So for me to dedicate an entry to the Los Angeles Dodgers is saying quite a lot.

I couldn’t let today go by though without wading into this subject. Today marks the Los Angeles Dodgers final game in Florida’s Grapefruit League. Since 1947 the Dodgers have made their Spring Training home in Vero Beach at what was known simply as Dodgertown. Dodgertown came to be after the Dodgers moved their Spring Training headquarters from Cuba. And while the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles 50 years ago they remained loyal to Vero Beach. That changed when Glendale Arizona and the Cactus League set their sights on the Los Angeles Dodgers by offering them a very lucrative arrangement to move west. So for the second time in their history the Dodgers are pulling up stakes and moving west. Watching the events at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown yesterday I gained a new appreciation of what it must have been like for the fans in Brooklyn as their team left them for brighter pastures in the west. No more would these fans be able to see their beloved Dodgers as they readied themselves for the season ahead. Instead they would be forced to watch from afar and remember what it was once like to see their baseball heroes take the field. For long-time Dodger fans it must be a painful experience; seeing their team abandon their faithful spring fans. Glendale of course is excited to become the new home for the Dodgers and their rich tradition. The team likewise must be excited at the prospect of being so close to their Los Angeles base and in a new state-of-the-art facility. Still no matter how much they try Glendale will never become Dodgertown and another link to the past will slowly fade into the background of Major League Baseball history. So when the final out is recorded today when the Dodgers play the Florida Marlins, we should all observe a moment of silence as we reflect on the passing of 60 years of tradition in Vero Beach.

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