Is it time to take pity on the LA Dodgers? 

Oh, how it’s changed. There are the Giants, wildly successful, in the standings and at the box office. And then there are the Dodgers, despised as much by their own fans as they once were by San Francisco — bankrupt, literally and emotionally. The applicable word is unbelievable.

L.A., where the stadium always was as full as Tommy Lasorda’s belly, where the team always was in the race, where they smirked at that town up north — and shivered when they were in that town.

“Only a place that calls an earthquake a fire,” chided the late Jim Murray in the Los Angeles Times, “would call Candlestick a ballpark.” We were embarrassed. And chilled. And paranoid.

They had it all in La-La Land, a ballpark where the ushers wore straw hats, where the saying was everything was so clean you could eat off the floors — now it’s so dangerous a Giants fan gets beaten viciously — where celebrities packed the box seats.

We were laughingstocks. They did the laughing. Of course, they also did the freezing when they showed up. Cold? “I don’t need coffee,” Lasorda was quoted as saying, “just a priest.” We did the praying, that the Giants might win a series now and then from L.A.

You remember the chant. Not “Let’s go Giants,” but “Beat L.A.” They had it all — glamour, Garvey and Gibson. It was the curse of the Bay Area. After the Giants, the Dodgers took apart the A’s. Dennis Eckersley, we still feel your pain.

But we have seen the decline and fall of the Chavez Ravine Empire. One day the Dodgers were the class of baseball while the Giants were the poor kids around the corner. The worm and the Lincecum have turned.

As much as we historians are amazed by the ascendancy of Los Gigantes, we are astounded by the utter mess the Dodgers have become. Any minute you expect Frank McCourt to appear at a freeway offramp with a cup and sign reading, “Need Payroll Help.”

Would it be beyond the kindness of Giants partisans to spare a few pennies? After all, if it hadn’t been at the insistence the former ayatollah of the national pastime, Walter O’Malley, that the New York Giants’ move west in 1958 to provide a foe (and cannon fodder) for the Dodgers, San Francisco wouldn’t have had a major league franchise, in name, if not performance.

You almost feel sorry for the Dodgers — almost — who through the great American tactic of mismanagement did what a decade ago would have seemed impossible: taking one of America’s most famous sports franchises and sending it to ruin.

If old-time San Francisco fans, those with a “Croix de Candlestick” or two in the jewelry box, those who endured Fernandomania and more recently “Mannywood,” offer no sympathy, well, we can understand.

Dodger Stadium two-thirds empty? Dodgers ownership in a war with Major League Baseball? That was about as likely as, well, the  Giants winning the World Series.

No more need for the good folk at Giants home games — long ago transferred to the best park in the nation, AT&T Park — to shout, “Beat L.A., beat L.A.” That’s a done deal.

How about “Pity L.A.”?

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.

About The Author

Art Spander

Art Spander

Bio:
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.bleacherreport.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.
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