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Disliking The 2010 Dodgers

(originally written 7/24/10)

Man, it’s easy to dislike the Dodgers.

Yes, as a 20-year supporter of their chief rival—the Hatfields to their McCoys, the Chamberlain to their Russell, the Shipman to their Nowak—that opening is a little biased. 

I believe my loyalty to the Giants only exacerbates, rather than facilitates, the intense dislike I have for that thin-skinned, pompous collection of egotists. Which is to say even if my loyalties were to the Tigers, or the Marlins, or the Twins, you’d still hear me supporting bestiality before you’d ever hear me support the current crop of L.A. Dodgers. 

Being only 30, I was not around in their fledgling New York days, when their rivalry was born. Nor was I around in the 1950’s for The Shot Heard ‘Round The World, or the 1960’s for Marichal/Roseboro fracas. Viewing the old B&W video of those moments has never augmented my Giants love, nor intensified my Dodger hate.

I was around—and paying close attention—when the Dodgers beat Salomon Torres and the Giants into submission on 1993’s season finale, when Rod Beck infamously escaped drunk bases and none out allowing Brian Johnson to take Mark Guthrie deep in 1997 and effectively eliminate the Dodgers, when steroid-addled Dodger Kevin Elster opened Pac Bell Park with three home runs, when Barry Bonds unloaded off Terry Adams for career homer #500 (prompting an Adams bitch session regarding the ensuing on-field ceremony) and, later, Chan Ho Park for homer #’s 71 and 72 of the 2001 season, and when future Giant Steve Finley murdered Wayne Franklin for a walk-off, wild-card clinching slam in 2004. Only the Johnson and Finley games tasted any better or stung any worse because of who they came against…

This is because for the longest time, the Dodgers were just another team to me. (I’m well aware I’m in the minority on that amongst Giants fans.) Oh, I’d be at Candlestick chanting “Beat L.A.!” with the best of them, but the only time beating the Dodgers meant extra in my eyes was if the Giants were chasing them or fending them off in the standings. I guess you could define me as an independent thinker who couldn’t bring himself to hate a team just because it was “in” to do so. I actually liked Orel Hershiser and Mike Scioscia. I didn’t wish Mike Piazza any specific harm. And anyone who loves and promotes the game of baseball as much as Tommy Lasorda is okay in my book.

Since 2006, however, any and all W’s against this group of actors and prima-donnas feels like two victories—one in the standings, and one for society.

Let’s start with their catcher, a player I haven’t thought much of since the day he reached the majors, Russell Martin. Why? Who knows, I just haven’t. Doesn’t help that he wears Hershiser’s old #55, which deserves retirement by the Dodgers even if Orel fell short of Hall of Fame enshrinement. Over the years, however, I’ve grown to dislike Martin for actual reasons.

First of all, is it “Russ” or is it “Russell”? Weren’t we were done playing those games when Dave/David Justice retired?

Actually, it might not be either, since he’s got that “J” on the back of his jersey now. It is supposed to be a tribute to his mother, Suzanne Jeanson, who is still alive, mind you.

My issue with this tribute: Martin’s mother—who I’m sure is a fine woman—is not wearing the uniform, he is. It comes down to this—if I were a mother, and my successful millionaire son wanted to honor me by wearing MY initial on HIS uniform, I’d gently dissuade him before instructing him to instead take me somewhere. Throw me a party. Erase all my debts. Name a child after me. Get a tattoo. That’s what NORMAL people do. A Giant doing the same thing would receive equal criticism.

Upon seeing Martin’s altered top for the first time, I wasted five minutes of my life trying to think of what other “Martin” the Dodgers had to necessitate an initial on Russell’s jersey, while waiting for the announcers to explain why he’s going by a different name this year. (It does happen—see Jose Uribe, Albert Belle, Santiago Casilla, Edgard Clemente.)  

Upon getting the facts, I feared a horrible precedence had been set and MLB would have to endure an outbreak of similar “tributes”, but when the fraternity of 800 monkey-see, monkey-do big leaguers who mimic every fad that develops—baggy pants, jewelry, braids, post-homer sky points, wearing #42 on Jackie Robinson Day, steroids—don’t have a single member who mimics Martin, it says something. 

Edgar Renteria may be overpaid, but during last year’s skirmish with the Dodgers—you remember the game, the one where Martin visibly stewed over being (properly, cleanly and unintentionally) upended at home plate—he earned my permanent adulation simply for trying desperately to lay the gauntlet on Martin. That day, if you gave me the option of round-the-clock intercourse with multiple Playboy bunnies, or Renteria being unrestrained from Martin, it’s no contest: I pick #2, and settle for provocative photos of the bunnies.

So there’s one source of my Dodger dislike. Outfielder Matt Kemp is another. 

Like everyday people in society, some athletes earn your scorn from the moment you “meet” them. Kemp is one. Just a few days ago, he took a HBP from Tim Lincecum, a man literally half his size with even less strength. Kemp, apparently needing to remind everyone what a tough guy he is, took a step or two toward the diminutive Lincecum before taking his base. Matt Kemp charging Tim Lincecum for an unintentional HBP is not unlike Rampage Jackson going after Michael J. Fox for an inadvertent elbow.

Mike Krukow, who also openly dislikes Kemp, believed Panda Sandoval wanted Kemp to charge Lincecum, so that Panda could have gone jungle on Kemp. (Kruk, like me, probably wanted that himself.)

Let’s not forget the Kemp stolen base with the Dodgers up six late in a game earlier this year. But even prior to 2010, Kemp’s reputation was that of a show-off, known for unnecessary diving catches, admiring homers that barely went over the fence—basically doing anything to get attention. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn 50% or more of his reason for dating Rihanna is to get more pub for himself. Kemp is a guy who carries himself like the superstar he isn’t. And that’s another reason I don’t like the Dodgers.

Then there’s the fabulous lactating Manny, being Manny by telling the world he will not re-sign with the Dodgers after 2010—forgetting that the decision is not entirely up to him. Casey Blake will forever be known for mocking Brian Wilson’s post-save, cross-armed nod to his late father, even if he didn’t know the full story when he did it. Vicente Padilla beaned our own Aaron Rowand because he felt like it (although some would argue that helped the Giants.) Rafael Furcal, MLB’s answer to Lindsay Lohan, reneged on his verbal agreement with Atlanta to re-sign with the Dodgers, angering Atlanta’s GM so deeply that he vowed to never do business with Furcal’s agent again. And Jon Broxton owns the league’s most ridiculous sideburns. (Too bad Jeff Kent isn’t there anymore; his mere presence alone elevated my Dodger dislike 25%.)

It’s been pleasurable witnessing Dodger failures in recent years. I laughed at loud when Kent and J.D. Drew were both tagged out at home within seconds of one another in the playoffs four years ago. I laughed out loud when ex-Giant Jason Schmidt earned $40 million from the Dodgers over three years by making a total of 12 appearances. Pedro Feliz and Matt Stairs unload huge homers for the Phillies off Broxton in back-to-back postseasons? Outstanding. 

But nothing will ever top the recent “Mattingly Game”—if you don’t know, the interim Dodger manager went to the mound for a chat, took two steps off the mound, then returned for another word. Bruce Bochy reported it to the umps, who counted it as two trips to the mound. That meant Mattingly had to bring in a new pitcher when he had none warming up. He chose the cold George Sherrill, who was promptly greeted with a game-tying, two-run Andres Torres double.

Couldn’t have happened to a better franchise…

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