I became a baseball fan in 1989 when the Athletics won the world series, and that lasted several good years. Henderson, Canseco, McGwire, Eckersley…those were good times. But then in the early 90′s someone new came along.
He’s why I became a Dodgers fan. I always thought that if I’d paid attention to baseball in ’88 when the Dodgers won it all, I might have skipped the Oakland phase altogether. But it was a pack of 1992 Bowman, and a Piazza rookie card that started my love of the Dodgers. I watched him win the ROY (followed by Mondesi, Nomo, and Hollandsworth), and I was well on my way to being a dedicated Dodgers fan.
For nearly 20 years (wow, that’s a long time), I stuck with the Dodgers regardless of whether they won or lost. There were lots of great moments, and even some playoffs, but success didn’t matter, I was a fan. My greatest memory is being there for Fernando’s no-hitter, on my birthday. The last few years especially had been great watching guys come up through the farm system and produce.
But something that has nagged at me for a while is the experience of going to a game. I used to go to multiple games a year when I was younger, and for the most part I enjoy myself when I go, but over the last 10 years that feeling has slowly been changing. My experience has been that the crowd at Dodger stadium is getting increasingly obnoxious, ghetto, intimidating…however you’d like to describe it. And for the most part, I put up with it. I’d go with some friends, and if we happened to get some drunk idiots behind us, we’d suffer through it.
But then I had a son.
This is where I see a big divergence in opinions. There is no way I would take my son to a Dodgers game. Maybe if I had $500 seats, and I knew the people around me would be nice, but the $50 seats have become a total crapshoot. I’ve found that people with kids absolutely know what I’m talking about, and people without don’t see the big deal. Yes, I’m generalizing all the opinions I’ve heard, but that’s been the common theme.
As a dad who wants to take his son to baseball games growing up, I’m now faced with a dilemma. The team I’ve grown up rooting for is in a crappy part of town, with a crowd that is becoming increasingly like a Raiders game (and from what I’ve heard, I wouldn’t take my son to one of those either). I’ve had to make one of hardest decisions of my adult life.
I am divorcing the Dodgers.
I’ve never gotten divorced, and never will, but I imagine this is exactly what a real divorce feels like. I don’t want to do it. I have all these great memories of a wonderful relationship we used to have…but things have changed. I’m not even sure it’s anyone’s fault. It’s almost natural considering the Dodgers location, and changing demographics over the years. When everything around you is turning into a ghetto, don’t be surprised when the seedier parts of society start dominating the attendance at games.
So for that reason alone, I don’t blame the Dodgers as an organization. I don’t even care about the McCourts…they’re an owner, and they will be gone someday. It’s not even the players fault. There are a ton of crappy guys on this years team that I could use as a scapegoat for why I’m leaving, but that’s part of being a fan. You root for the team through thick and thin, winning or losing.
But I will not take my son to a game. Maybe someday when he’s older I’ll take him to a game to show him the stadium I grew up in. But for his sake, and mine, I am changing my allegiance.
I am now an Angels fan.
This is not an easy decision. I have nothing against the Angels (except the DH), but changing the team you root for is the strangest feeling. I don’t know that many of the players, I’m not used to their announcers, and I don’t know their history. But I’ve been to games there, and it is night and day compared to Dodger stadium. Is the crowd perfect? Of course not, but I would feel comfortable taking my three year old son to a game now.
I’m still very much in transition. I bought an Angels hat (old school one with lots of blue), and I’ve been wearing it everyday. It’s helping me get used to things…slowly. I’m excited about some of the young players on the Angels that I will hopefully be able to follow for a while.
Over time, it will start to feel like my team.