Those of you who have known me since before the mid-1990s know I grew up a Dodger fan. I was faithful to the Blue throughout the 80’s and early-90’s. The Bakersfield Californian ran a cool spread in today’s edition listing the ten biggest trades in Los Angeles Dodgers history, both good and bad. The top pick in that list is the trade that ended my Dodger fandom. The day they betrayed every faithful supporter. The Mike Piazza trade. The deal that was pulled off by Fox executives with no baseball experience and for whom the only interest was the financial bottom line. That was the day the Dodgers died in my heart. The Dodger Way of building a winning team took a back seat to the money-and-headline grabbing Fox ownership method.
The only thing that kept baseball from becoming completely irrelevant for me was my long-time #2 team, the Seattle Mariners. They kept me interested and played good-to-great baseball for a good long stretch until about 2006, when a group of young players on a once-rival club, the San Francisco Giants, guys named Cain, Lincecum, Sandoval, Sanchez, Wilson and Posey, and the steady hand of Bruce Bochy, reignited my love of the game. Sure they lost—a lot—but a core had been built and and the right veterans were brought in at the right time that set the table for those young guns to succeed. That was the Dodger way from the 1950’s to the 1990’s under the O’Malley family’s ownership. Shock upon shock, it was working in San Francisco.
The Dodgers betrayed my life-long faith on that May day in 1998. I don’t take betrayal well. My loyalties wavered during that time. There were dalliances with the D’Backs and Red Sox (Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Nomar Garciaparra and David Ortiz are among my favorite players of all-time) but it was the Mariners who picked me up, brushed me off and said (in my head, of course), hang out with us some more until you find that love for the game again. Through success and failure, the M’s kept baseball alive for me and I am grateful for that. They have a solid nucleus of young players and some dominating pitching now. Success, I hope, will come back soon to my loyal #2, even it the crazy-tough AL West.
Ultimately though it was the Giants and their incredible, loyal, long-suffering-but-always-optimistic fans who welcomed me with open arms and made baseball fun again. The love was back. They justified my faith in those young players, Timmy, Panda, Buster etc. faster that I ever could have imagined.
Call me a bandwagoner if you must. A deserter. That’s fine. I wish only the best for this current crop of Dodgers. They remind me a bit of those great Dodger clubs of the 70s and 80’s. The antithesis of the mercenary units that wore the Blue on Rupert Murdoch and Frank McCourt’s watch. Baseball in Los Angeles is fun again. Enjoy it Dodger fans. But since 2006, I’ve cast my lot with the Giants. Whether they win a World Series (2010, 2012) or finish 20 games under .500 (2007), they are my team now.
I say it loud and proud. I am a San Francisco Giants fan and I could not be happier.