Wednesday, July 04, 2007

If You Can Read This Without Crying... did better than I did.

Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times writes heart-tugging columns relatively often, so I steeled myself not to become watery-eyed when reading his account of a cancer-stricken lifelong Dodgers fan from Virginia who has just made his first-ever trip to Dodger Stadium.

No can do. For someone like myself who is a lifelong Dodgers fan, it was just too moving, and I admit I teared up...I think it was when he first smelled a Dodger dog I started to wobble.

Then: "Maurice meets old heroes Lasorda and Maury Wills, and new hero Russell Martin, and late-night companion Vin Scully. The Dodgers of his dreams show up at his side, one by one, generous with their time, pretending not to notice that behind him, his wife is weeping."

While you're at it, check out this great story by Russell Martin in Guideposts. It's a beautiful story about his dad. It'll leave you with a smile on your face...and yes, maybe one more tear in your eye.

What could be more American, on the 4th of July, than reading about baseball and some of the good people who make this nation great?


Blogger Bag Of Bones said...

Good to hear the Dodgers treated this special fan well. I don't read the Sports section . . . but I do want to raise a larger question.

Can someone explain the illogic of being a fan of a professional sports team? I don't get it.

Aren't the Dodgers, and every other pro team, a random collection of mercenary guns-for-hire who wear the uniform only because a) they were drafted against their will, b) they were traded against their will, or c) they were free agents and got the best deal? How is this a "team" in any real sense, especially considering the turnover? How do you get "civic pride" from a bunch of guys who are just picking up a paycheck on their way to somewhere else?

Is there some kind of blood lineage with Dodger teams that makes one a lifelong fan? Is there ANY connection between the 1957 Dodgers and the 2003 Dodgers besides the dye in the uniform?

I worked for the Upper Deck Company, manufacturers of trading cards, when they started in 1989 and got a good inside look at major league baseball. One of the partners was DeWayne Buice, a relief pitcher with the Angels who ended his career with Toronto. I can tell you this, the players CERTAINLY don't have any loyalty to their team or the fans. Neither do the owners. It's strictly business and money.

I see pro sports fans like I do guys who go to strip clubs and get hooked on a dancer and start a money-draining "relationship" with her. It's a total delusional sham; and one day the stripper is gone and the chump is left in his chair scratching his wooden head.

But to each his own.

11:34 PM  
Blogger LargeBill said...

Bag o' bones,

What a downer.


Since you're a Dodger's fan, here is a link to Dodger's themed blog penned by Alyssa Milano (From Who's the Boss fame).

2:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wow, Large Bill, it looks like Alyssa is quite a fan! I enjoyed scanning her blog and have bookmarked it for future exploration. Thanks so much for posting that link.

Bag of Bones, I'm not sure I could explain love for the game and a team to someone approaching it from such a different perspective. It's all about hundreds and hundreds of nights with Vin Scully (who has been calling the games since my parents were younger than some of my kids are right now -- there's your connection from the '50s to the '00's right there), it's about the memories and a team's history, from being a kid falling asleep listening to Mike Marshall saving games in the '70s, to Garvey-Russell-Lopes-Cey (guys who came up through the farm system, incidentally) to Fernando and TJ to the Stuntmen and Orel's streak, Kirk's homer, and the team winning the World Series the week my first child was great guys like Russell Martin who play for the team today. I'm not always happy with decisions made (to this day I think trading Paul LoDuca was a dreadful mistake), but few things in life are perfect. Players may not be Dodgers forever -- Kirk Gibson's time as a Dodger was relatively short, yet as a Dodger he gave us the greatest moment in Dodgers, if not baseball, history -- but while they are, they're part of the magic, and we're the better for it.

Best wishes,

2:30 PM  
Blogger Bag Of Bones said...

I don't like to rain on anyone's fantasies; but I think Steve Garvey is a perfect exmaple of what I'm saying.

Nobody was more loved at Dodger Stadium than Garvey in the 1970s. A standing ovation every time he came to bat. They named a junior high school in the San Fernando Valley after him. He was "Mr. Clean." Vin Scully, Tommy Lasorda, the O'Malley's, the entire Dodger public relations apparatus pushed Garvey as the ultimate symbol of "Dodger blue."

Then Garvey's contract expired and for a few extra bucks he gave Dodger fans the finger and went to San Diego. And he only stayed with a California team because he was contemplating a political career after baseball and was eyeing the U.S. Senate.

Scandal in his personal life put an end to Garvey's political aspirations; and he's been mixed up in financial missteps and lawsuits for years. I think he's on the autograph circuit now, gouging fans $50 to scribble his name on a cheap glossy.

I was a kid in the '70s, but I felt like a fool after the Garvey fiasco. Then working for Upper Deck, seeing the players up close, learning how the league works, the greed and corruption, the booze and drugs and groupies they don't want you to know about, I haven't watched a game since.

I DO support college and especially high school athletics. Those are real teams, especially high school, where I think a lot of good is being done. Spend your time and money helping those organizations,donate to the booster clubs, and we'll all be better off.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I've known about Garvey's problems from the time he was actually *on* the team (anyone remember the fight with Don Sutton? or the controversy over the Inside Sports story about his marriage to Cyndy?). It's too bad, and Garvey lost my respect as a person, but again, sports players are fallible human beings, just like politicians or others. I sure learned that about Tommy Lasorda early on, when I was exposed to his legendary "mouth" via Jim Healy's radio show, which my dad never missed ("What is my opinion of his performance?" should jog some memories). The fact that Garvey was an idiot off the field doesn't completely negate his impact and achievements as part of the longest-running infield in baseball history. Problems off the field aren't new (Babe Ruth comes to mind).

I am a realist about the problems in the sport (i.e., players on steroids; booze in the clubhouse) at the same time I love the game and its history. There are many other players who have been and continue to be excellent role models (Tommy John and Orel Hershiser, for starters, and managers like Jim Tracy and Mike Scioscia). Tarring an entire sport because of the bad decisions of some is no more fair than it would be to do so regarding any other professional enterprise.

I support school athletics too, but those "real teams" often have issues just like the pros do. We are big Trojan football fans since that's the university our daughter is attending, but they certainly have been touched by everything from questions about players' finances to players' personal relationships (unplanned pregnancy, "assault" claim) to poor choices that resulted in death (hanging around cliffs or Louisiana streets in the wee hours is never a good idea). These kinds of issues are not unique to the Trojans in college sports.

Morever, college football and basketball really have come to serve the same functions as minor league teams do for baseball. And where do the best high school players go? The minors and college. The way I see it, these are simply different stages of the same big picture: sports.

I hope for any problems to be cleaned up, ignore those players I don't admire (Barry Bonds comes to mind), and root for the Dodgers (and to a lesser extent, the Angels) and the many class acts who are out there worth rooting for.

Best wishes,

5:57 PM  

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