“If they asked me, I could write a book…” – Frank Sinatra
It’s really hard to explain why I love baseball, and especially the Dodgers, the way I do. Every November, when the season is over and players and fans temporarily go their separate ways for the long, and (for some of us) cold winter, and I start really missing everything the baseball season gives me, I am reminded just how grateful I am to be a fan of this organization, especially at this point in the team’s history.
As fans of this team, we have much to be thankful for, not just on Thanksgiving but throughout the year. This list could go on, and would vary depending on the fan, but for me, rather than actually write what would be a very long book, I’ve listed the 5 things that first came to mind when I was asked what I am most thankful for as a Dodger fan.
1 – Front Office and Management
The Dodgers are a well established, storied franchise, and are currently well positioned for years to come with their talented farm system and exceptional depth. Having followed this team closely over the last 4 seasons, the difference in the quality and style of play pre and post Mattingly, and since the arrival of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi is already night and day…and they’re just getting started.
Baseball is still a business at the end of the day, which means sometimes decisions are made that are not popular with everyone, but any organization that evolves from financial ruin to winning 5 straight division titles is doing something very right, in my opinion. We have the best people-manager in the game in Dave Roberts, who has assembled a stellar coaching staff. Change is inevitable in life and in baseball, but this year I am especially thankful that there is a not a lot of change needed and the team is still ranked high on the power listings for next season and beyond.
2 – Broadcast Team
One of the things I enjoy the most about this first class organization is that the Dodgers employ only the best at everything, and in particular, their stellar broadcast “A-Team” of Joe Davis, Orel Hersheiser, and Alanna Rizzo. As I mentioned in my piece about Joe earlier this fall, one of the wonderful things about him is that he made it clear right from the beginning that he was not replacing Vin, that while he was committed to doing his best for Dodgers fans, he would definitely be doing his own thing. He clearly did his research on the team, building on a 2016 season in which he became familiar with the organization by doing road games, while quickly and effortlessly relating to fans in such a way that it didn’t take long to feel that we were watching the games with a couple of friends, a pair of buddies, in him and Orel.
We miss him when he is away, and look forward to many exciting years with both of them in the booth. And Alanna’s stellar, thorough reporting from the sidelines and her thoughtful interviews with the players are second to none.
3 – Dodgers Twitter
Watching this team play is a true passion for many of us and social media gives us the rare, special opportunity to meet and interact with other like-minded fans who share that passion. Besides the playful banter that is admittedly more fun when our team is winning, there were also acts of kindness happening in the world of Dodgers Twitter.
In one example, one fan arranged to have a special Dodgers themed gift be sent across the country to another fan who had tragically lost her parents in a house fire on Christmas Eve 2016. Just after the conclusion of the World Series this year, a group of fans got together to donate money to help another member of the “Dodgers Fam” with funeral costs in the tragic loss of her son just days earlier.
Among the many stories out there of new friends supporting each other, this season I personally was overcome with kindness as I experienced sudden job loss and looked for moral support in dealing with the illness of a parent. I never would have thought one could forge bonds with people I’d never met in person, but because of our shared love for this team, I have. For example, on the way to Dodger Stadium before Game 1, I experienced a minor medical issue and might not have even made it to see the first pitch if it hadn’t been for the help of Angie and Amee from the Dodger Fam, who I had literally just met in person two hours earlier.
There are countless stories of Twitter Dodgers Fam friends meeting for the first time at Dodger Stadium during the World Series, having this special experience to bond us all. Thanks to the power of our love for the Dodgers, I have no doubt these friendships will last through good and bad over the years, and for that I give special thanks.
4 – Dodger Stadium
There is a reason it is one of the most photographed places on social media sites like Instagram. If you’ve never had the privilege of attending a game at Blue Heaven on Earth, my wish for you is that one day you will be as lucky as I have been to make the trip at least once in your life. As a fan in a very long-distance relationship with this team, and as a result watching all of their games from the comforts of my home in Canada, I could never have conjured up the experience of Dodger Stadium even in my wildest dreams. It is much more than just the sights – the play on the field, the way those gorgeous white home uniforms look under the lights, and the view of the mountains in the background as the sun goes down.
It is also the sounds – Dieter Ruehle’s clever organ riffs and the music stylings of DJ Severe over the sound system, and the booming voice Todd Leitz over the PA as he announces the players. Attending a game at one of the most beautiful ballparks in the world is truly a magical experience, and I feel thankful not only that I have been able to travel out there twice, but also that the stadium only seems to age with beauty and grace…and that there are no plans to rename it after a bank or an orange juice brand.
5 – The Dodgers
And last but certainly not least…the players. They are not strangers to many of us, but rather the men we watch play 162 plus games per year. Their joy, accomplishments and pain become ours. This year, as soon as Corey Seager hit that final ground ball to second base to end the World Series, I immediately turned the TV off mainly so that I wouldn’t have to see any Dodgers’ reactions. I don’t think my heart could have handled seeing the disappointment on anyone’s faces.
After all, this game is ultimately about what happens on the field, and as fans, we are thankful for the countless plays and stories and feats we have been treated to by “our Dodgers”. This current 40-man roster is one of the most talented the organization has fielded in years, and I for one proudly cherish every minute with each of them…with a special shoutout to the person I personally believe to be the greatest pitcher and human being on the planet, Clayton Kershaw. We are most lucky and forever thankful to be able to call him a Dodger.
And with that, I wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you throughout Dodgers Nation! I look forward to hearing what you are most thankful for in the comments below!