Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Never Thought I'd Say This...

...but I was thrilled to see the fans at Dodger Stadium doing The Wave and giddy when one of their beach balls landed on the warning track and delayed the game.

"What?", you're saying. "I thought you were the crusty traditionalist who abhorred that kind of junk."

Well, I'd rather not be called "crusty", but generally, yeah. I've always taken a rather dim view of the show-up-late, leave-early, la-de-da LA fans.

But this is different.  This was a celebration. The Wicked Witch is dead.

Last night's Dodger Stadium crowd, more than 44,000 strong, came partly to see the renewal of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. But the real reason they were there was to celebrate the renaissance of one of the proudest franchises in American sports after the dark years of Frank McCourt's ownership.

Before the Dodgers took the field, the joy was in the air. Dodger Hall of Famer Don Newcombe, Rachel Robinson (widow of the legendary Dodger Jackie Robinson), and new Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson handled the ceremonial first pitch. Magic later bellowed, "It's time for Dodger baseball!", and with that, the process of erasing the bad memory of the McCourt era revved into high gear.

Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie managed to drag the once-proud Dodgers franchise into their world of obscene spending and personal bickering. They used the Dodgers as the ATM for their own profligate lifestyle, eventually running the team into bankruptcy and forcing Major League Baseball to take over.

Let's not forget: when the Giants paid their first visit to Dodger Stadium last year, the once-proud stadium sported filthy restrooms dotted with graffiti and Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten into a coma in the lawless parking lot.

It couldn't be more different now. It's a new beginning in LA. Even if you bleed orange-and-black, you had to be happy to see that beach ball on the warning track.

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