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Down on the Dodgers? Not All of Us

A counterpoint



Dear Dodgers,

Happy New Year! It’s Gail again. After I wrote you a rather long-winded love letter this past August, this time I’ll cut right to the chase:

We’re not all “down” on you this off-season. Recently, ESPN examined many fans’ position this off-season, and when my Dodgers Nation colleague Clint Evans asked for fan thoughts on the issue, we received a lot of passionate comments.

Sure, you broke a lot of hearts, including mine, in that NLDS loss to the Nationals, but isn’t that what love (and life) is all about – forgiving the past, learning from our mistakes, and moving on? As I divulged after the playoff exit, it wouldn’t hurt so much if I didn’t care, and I have no plans to stop caring.

You just treated me to one of the most exciting seasons I’ve followed in my 39 years of baseball watching, and I’m certainly not going to let some questionable late game bullpen management wipe away the countless times over the last few years that you’ve been the companionship I needed on a lonely evening, the hope of things to come that helped me get through a long work week, and the routine that kept me grounded while I processed personal loss.

The older I get, the less concerned I’ve become about what other people think, but it’s still hard to accept other fans be so harsh about the Front Office without speaking up myself. I get the frustration after getting so close to the ultimate prize the last few years, especially with the potential this team has shown, but the complaints remind me far too much of a spoiled rich kid who yells and points a disapproving finger at his or her parents about not getting the new iPhone 11 for Xmas, all the while holding the XR model in the other hand. Kids who were happy to get socks and underwear for Christmas wouldn’t possibly be able relate to this mindset, and to be honest, most days it’s hard for me, as a Dodger fan, to feel sorry for those who are constantly dumping on you for only being elite, not absolutely perfect. I’ve even had friends who are fans of teams like the Orioles and the Mets ask me “what exactly spoiled Dodgers fans are complaining about?”. I think if it as being similar to parenthood: children don’t get disowned for their imperfections, but instead as parents watch their offspring grow and support them to ultimately reach their goals, you’ll more often than not see them beaming with pride at the back of the room when the time finally time comes.

I, for one, choose to be grateful for everything this organization has done and excitedly look forward to the thrilling moments in time you will bring us, the memories you will continue to gift us with, and the friendships we will form all because of a shared love of the team. I can’t think of anything that has come close to providing me with the level of excitement and joy you are brought me over the last 7 years, and while I patiently wait for the 2020 journey to begin, I trust that you’ll continue to manufacture some of the most elite product in the league, providing us with the on and off field moments that make up the baseball seasons that we’re so privileged to be able to enjoy.

I know I’m not alone in these sentiments and that there are many others out here who also choose to sit back and enjoy the journey, while I also recognize and respect the fact that there are others are understandably becoming restless with this World Series drought. I’ve become acquainted with all types of Dodgers fans over the last several years, and I’ve learned that we are all going to show our passion in different, sometimes completely individual ways. Similar to the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” analogy, though, the dissatisfied, unhappy fans tend to sound the loudest…but that doesn’t mean that they speak for all of us. Just know that there are many of us out here, including me, who are a little less loud but still confident in our support of the team, who will never stop being proud to call ourselves Dodger fans, and we believe in you.

One day on this journey, when we line up for the World Series parade, fans of all types will be standing together, after each having taken a different journey to get there. You may not hear some of us as clearly as the louder, more passionate ones, but if you look closely, you’ll see us in the back, beaming proudly, with that silent smile that says “I knew you could do it”.

Yours truly,

Gail

P.S. See you Opening Day!

Written by Gail Johnson

Biggest Dodgers fan north of the border, living about 3,500 miles from my beloved Boys In Blue, in Moncton, NB, Canada. I think Dodger Stadium is the happiest place on Earth. I'll catch up on my sleep in the off-season.

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  1. Gail, good column here. Let’s just say that ‘learning from one’s mistakes is where many fans are right now as far as Roberts in game management, especially his handling of the pitching goes. Roberts told Plaschke of the LA Times that he would make those exact same pitching decisions he made in that fateful 8th inning of game 5 in NLDS.. Many fans wonder whether he has learning anything from his errors made not just in 2019 PS but in a couple before that.

  2. The only concern I have in our daily team is Doc. That’s it. The rest of the guys I will always support unconditionally. Need another solid pitcher at the trade deadline please.

  3. It would be a lot easier to not be down on them if the front office didn’t promise big moves, then only sign reclamation projects. Just today the Red Sox owner made it clear winning was more important than resetting the luxury tax. We’ve reset it and still have nothing to show for it. Most LA fans realize we have it better than 90% of the rest, but still, the reason you play is to win, right? So why not go all in?

    • the FO offered a number of players but the players went for overpriced contracts and will bleed their new teams dry! Dodgers will get it done this year: they are hungry to get to the WS and win it!

      • Dreamer BlueDuck. But you dont actually care anyway because you said you prefer winning every night before beddy bye time then winning in October.

  4. Spoiled rich kid? Maybe if this team actually won championships in the last 32 year lol what a joke

    • If that’s how you feel then why not go follow some other team? I really don’t understand why someone would spend time and energy following a team they think is a joke, unless it just helps you feel more superior.

  5. Gail: Good perspective. People forget this just a game and entertainment. With all that goes on in the world, the Dodgers will never be a disappointing thing in my life. Especially not to the degree of obsession and naysaying that many of the posters here express.

    • When they finally win the World Series I can enjoy them in the way you do and with your perspective. I used to in the past, but when the drought started pushing 27 years I said enough is enough I want more then empty seasons, been there done that. We were promised the return of the championship era, I don’t care who’s to blame, ownership, FO, players, manager, all of the above.. just get it the F done already

  6. As a life long Dodger fan, I disagree with this writers opinion. The Dodger front office did nothing long term last year (2018) and nothing at all this past year (2019l to get better positioned for a short series that is the playoffs. All the platooning and relying on kids as they develop works through the long season but without a balance of veterans and who know how to deal with acute pressures that is the definition of a short series will not make a successful season. Winning the series is the goal and I hear management in the press already making excuses and defining success as something less than winning the World Series. They are wrong. I understand the press talks trades and frankly I think they make stuff up as they need to write about something, which means the front office is doing even less than we think. Hoarding tomorrows talent will simply resort in mediocre results today. I as a fan am upset and even angry at the lack of movement by the front office. Mr Kastan can make excuses and say people arnt upset and point to ticket sales, attendance and last years payroll but it is just a matter of time and the fans will push back and will get your attention through the economics. Do you really want to wait and see your fan base react. A very disappointed fan.

  7. super POV Gail…been a fan for over 50yrs now. Been great times, not so great times and edge of your seat times…great owner (O’Malley was fiscally tight fisted owner and people seem to forget his frugal nature…spend smartly & be competitive every year for the most part. Horrible owners in Fox & McCourtCo. Now it’s actually ownership that had to right the ship paying off HUGE debts and create a winner at the same time. Rebuilt farm, saving the stadium from a wrecking ball had it been allowed to fade…built as strong a team as I can recall in those 50-mumble years. Perhaps not on par with the Garvey, Russell, Lopes, Cey, Reggie Smith, Dusty Baker, Lee Lacy teams but they are so close at the plate….pitching…still not close to those teams and the Fernandomania era staff.

    They spend money wisely…it’s bad management to buy a play just because fans demand more money spent. There is a single thing on offense needed, maybe, and that’s a couple solid RH bats one starting and one bench.
    But pitching is gonna be a crap shoot. I LOVE that because why have a farm if you don’t let them play. Give them until the deadline and see what happens. At least two of the kiddie corps will blossom.

    Not spending wrecklessly allows keeping most of the core long term. Buying just for buying sake leads to fire sales at some point. Trading players they nurtured for players who are perhaps only marginally better than the players moved again is not wise baseball. It’s about right now of course but also about the next 10yrs…

    I want homegrown and a few imports as needed but only if they want to be part if the team.

    Roberts is on a pivotal point i think… he has Lasorda to talk to ams trust me Tommy is still sharp on the team…i know cuz t chatted with him in the dessert buffet line a few years ago when i lucked out watching from amazing box seats behind the D-dugout. Roberts needs seasoning, it’s not like he had years actually running the team on the field. But if his patterns fail again, he needs a change of address.

    I don’t live just for the WS but for a team that plays Dodger style baseball again….so LESS STRIKES GUYS!

  8. Gail cool. I guess its all a matter of how we all perceive the game. I personally played / coached for many years and that competitive fire to win still rages on within me! I’ve been a Dodgers fan all of my life through the very good times and not so good ones. Since the MLB is defined as a competitive sport, I consider it very intense and want my team to do the same. I’ve paid top dollar for many years supporting them, and with all the years of viewing what is a winning formula in the sport, it really is the same at all levels.. Well coached and fundamentally sound teams with the most top tier athletes win. Consistently. After viewing this current teams idealism and style of baseball, its definitely entertaining to watch with lots of home runs and different lineups each game. But I don’t pay to be entertained with extremely loud sound systems, and 50 million dollar light boards and flash and bling! That all becomes useless to me when the players won’t hit and run, sacrifice runners, steal bases lay down a bunt along 3 rd with nobody covering etc. Then lose a game striking out on ball 4 in the dirt trying to be a hero! The entertainment I get is when the batter takes ball 4, lays down a bunt along 3 rd, a suicide squeeze to win the game! That’s how I get entertained! A traditionalist of the game. I see none of that with this current brand and not only is it a let down to watch, but this current brand is predictable to watch, which makes it easy to know what’s coming! So many times in these last few years we’ve watched other managers 3 steps ahead and actually grinning knowing what this brand will and won’t do. To me, its painful not entertaining to watch failure due to some kind of new age mindset etc!! So personally I’m not down on the players just this insain ” money ball” mantra that fails time and time again in the biggest moments! Failure to win it all for so long , added with a FO mindset that their product is supreme and all being is not only laughable but blind! Some managers can make up for the lack of top talent by playing and utilyzing basic fundamentals of the game to keep pressure on teams, not this team!! This team actually does just the opposite, they sit down hot players, play inexperienced players in front of veterans in big games etc! Backwards insain philosophy that simply has never worked! They won’t go out and buy top tier players and consistently can’t match up in the end! Add all of this together, and its the farthest thing from entertainment, its actually really sad because we all know it doesn’t have to be that way! So I’ve lost interest in the team, and must admit the only time I laugh anymore is when I see their manager do the exact stupid move each year, with the same players and same results.

    • kirk…right on my fellow true fan. It’s a lifelong commitment. And it’s better to call out issues than allow them to fester. In this case it has pretty clearly been in game management. I really don’t believe it’s all down to the Yom Landry School of Spreadsheet Management…it’s fear of making that instinctive decision at that crucial point.

      It wasn’t spreadsheet management that left those guys out there for two innings in game 5..if so then no way they trot out for inning two given those numbers.

      • Grumpy, spreadsheet mngt is metrics! It has a few perks but it is a flawed and sometimes assinine way of playing baseball! This is baseball my friend but they run it likes its NASCAR with wind draft tire pressure and pit stops!!! Add that to not building a roster to match up with the rest of the league come playoffs, a not so bright manager, and it doesn’t get done!

    • I’m definitely with you on the small ball thing. It’s fundamental baseball. Real baseball. The Dodgers are good at being selective at the plate. Guys like Muncy don’t chase much. But they haven’t had a real lead off guy bunting for base hits, and stealing bases for a long time. Everyone wants to swing for the fence instead of displaying the bat control to get on base and advance runners into scoring position. Fans want to see home runs, but I’d like to see some manufactured runs as well. I am not a fan of this new live ball era. Baseball games should be more than just home run derbies. Pitchers are punished with home runs on what would have been routine flyouts a few years ago and throughout most MLB history.

      • Dodger106W, I concur as far as doing more of fundamental things you talked about but keep in mind the nature of this game today. I totally agree that more contact is necessary instead of striking out 64 times in the 5 NLDS games that Dodgers did. However, because baseball is what it is today as far as home runs go Dodgers, like a lot of other teams must keep up with the competition because in today’s game, if your team is out homered by the opponents , your team will usually end up on the short end of the score. And a good example was in game 5 of NLDS where the Dodgers got a taste of their own medicine with those 3 HR’s the Nats hit to win that game. I have always felt that if the team isn’t going to hit many HR’s then the team better not be giving them up that costs them the game.

        • Hey Paul, the reason the Dodgers lost was because the Nat’s had more 300 hitters in their lineup, and better pitching! Roberts didn’t help by playing Will Smith over Russell Martin and Lux over David Freeze but the Nat’s lineup was more talented and especially more veteran laden.

    • I couldn’t help but respond to these comments. I too, have been a Dodger fan all my life – over 70 years now, having begun rooting for them in the 1940’s. So when one is as old as I am (now in my 80’s), your perspective is probably somewhat different from younger fans. The glorious history of the Dodgers is not limited to their time in LA. The dynasty they established from the latter 40’s through the 50’s which has set the standard for the LA version of the Dodgers has made the Dodger franchise one of the elite teams in all of sports. They have provided as many if not more thrills than any other team in baseball, whether it’s been in winning or losing, but mostly in winning. As disappointing as last season’s defeat was against Washington, it was mild compared to the devastating loss to the Giants in the 51′ playoff for the National League pennant. Nothing could console us Dodger fans after that one. It was like our world had come to an end. But greater glory was yet to come. And greater glory is on the horizon now. The future looks bright with the stupendous farm system we have, which by the way, was established by Branch Rickey in the 40″s. And just as the likes of Robinson, Campanella, Snider, Reese, Hodges, Furillo, Erskine, Newcombe, etc. were the gold standard of those days in Brooklyn, so Bellinger, Bueller, Kershaw, May, Lux, Seager, Smith, etc. will be the gold standard in the days ahead. Though I only get the chance to see the Dodgers in person when they come east, I still follow them just as closely as I always have, even though it requires staying up til one or two in the morning with the three hour time difference. With ownership that is intent on putting a quality product on the field, and not only a quality product, but a winner, as Dodger fans, we have a lot to look forward to. So bring on the 2020 season.

  9. Great article Gail. Keep it up! Dodgers are going to get it done in 2020! They keep getting better and younger every year! They are still the NL team to beat! We trust the FO to get whatever players we need by the trade deadline!

  10. Are the Dodgers hungrier than they were last year? Or the year before that? That’s all we heard last season. “They have a look in their eye.” “After their back-to-back losses in the World Series, the Dodgers are really hungry in 2019.” Hungry, hungry, hungry. Organizations like the Patriots and Warriors and even the Giants last decade have a certain attitude and mindset each season. It’s unselfish and efficient and focused and that allows the team to perform at their best in crucial moments in the postseason. They don’t showboat or act like idiots when they win during the regular season. The Dodgers have the money and the players but lack a manager and front office that can make the correct strategic decisions in the heat of the postseason battle. It’s their attitude, not their ability that keeps them from winning championships.

  11. We don’t need a Gerrit Cole, Clevinger would be fine. As for run production, we set. I’m looking forward to seeing Gavin Lux feast on some of the pitching in The Big Top. Gail, I thank you for putting a nice perspective together for all of us to enjoy and learn from.

  12. I’ve been a Dodger fan since 77. Vinny Jerry Doggett Ross Porter listening as a kid to my heroes in blue then came 81 then the great year of 88 I thought nothing was going to stop the Dodgers after that came decades of World Series without. Now we had 2017 and 2018 whoa 2019 happened and the dreams crushed another special thing happened the Dodgers have money to spend and they don’t do a darn thing okay how about getting a couple starters some relievers and a third baseman with all that money and a farm system why would it matter what Colorado spits out there has to be some way somehow that you could get a player who was born and raised out here who always wanted to be a Dodger I don’t know you guys get paid the big bucks for all of us Dodger fans we just have to wait and see is it going to be another year wasted to me in 2020 we need a shutdown corner infielder just call me a frustrated Dodger fan…

  13. I’m not down on the Dodgers. I’ll follow every single game this season, just like I always do. But I’m also a realist. They’re not as good personnelwise without Ryu and Hill in the starting rotation, and Jansen’s decline as the closer shows no sign of reversal. The rest of the bullpen is still a question mark. And the exit of David Freese made the right handed power hitter deficit much worse. However, it’s entirely possible that they could win less than 100 games this year, but actually be productive in the postseason. All they have to do is survive the first round of the postseason to improve over last season.

    • Exactly 106, but let’s all ask ourselves a question. Are the Nat’s,Braves, Mets, Phillies Cards better? We’ve declined and all the rest have either got stronger or stayed the same. I predict a 90 win season tops. Arizona will push the Dodgers. Go see the Lakers man!!! Now that’s a LA organization that will go all out to win the championship!

  14. Saw a Moonshot my first game at the colosseum as a kid with father and grandfather. Have been an AVID Follower (more than a fan) ever since. It is my nature to HATE deception and manipulation directed at me and others. We see enough of that in politics, but now I see it by the ownership, Kasten and Friedman controlling our Dodgers. It is difficult for me to understand the level of naivete exhibited by “fans” like Gail and some others. I’m a retired Business Executive and have seen this management pattern so many times in the past that this management team is absolutely transparent. They are laughing all the way to bank while dedicated, Rah, Rah, ignorant, “fans,” eat up their misdirections. How many times do you come running when the boy cries wolf? If Friedman was really so incompetent to stay “in” on all of the Free Agents he claims to have been trying to sign at a fair price, then he should have been fired long ago. He wasn’t. Because “The Plan” to keep seats filled for the least possible costs is working perfectly. Gullible fans actually set a 3.9Million attendance record last year after Friedman didn’t even add a midyear rental. At least with McCourt, we KNEW there was no hope and the masses forced a change. NOW, the masses are completely fooled and next year will be the 3rd year in a row where we have failed worse against the best of the MLB. 2020 will be 32 years since a WS Championship and as long as “fans” remain unrealistic there will be NO PRESSURE on Guggenheim to add the few players it will take to get us there. Not fair to the Dodgers’ history, those on the Dodgers team, nor to most of us knowledgeable fans.

    • I am a Dodger fan from the same era and I totally agree with your sentiments! I laugh when I hear some fans “worry” about not spending too much!! Ha! the entire payroll is $200 (approximate) million and without doing a thing they receive $350 million, every year, from the TV contract alone! Appeasement is their business model – spend just enough to keep them coming and the rest goes into our portfolios. Kirk has said it numerous times, these are business people, not baseball people.

      • Dodger fan ,4 ever is spot on Casey. I think this ” money ball” era that has ruined this Team is even more painful to other True Dodgers fans than you or I. The progressive Socialist mindset the FO presents to the fans , is night and day opposite of the Imperialist business model they actually are operating.

  15. Gale

    I would agree with and what you’re saying if I hadn’t seen so many times recently where we were lacking. we had a holes to fill we knew there were issues and no one ever dealt with them. the resoundingly message from the front office always talked about we like with what we got.
    We will be competitive this post season. Not we are addressing those issues.

    There is a difference between being fiscally responsible and blatant disregard for dealing with known problems. It is laughable when people think it is good that the team isn’t spending money. This is a large market team with embarrassing amounts of resources. (Most of us cant fathom 350 million a year with out selling anything not 1 ticket beer over priced parking space)
    Some of us feel like if you are not going to go out and get the best fit for the Dodgers. By Not fielding the best team available you are stealing from the fans.

    Last year’s trade deadline spoke immensely about needing to fill a hole if you were cognitive of the team’s needs you have realized that we needed to do something at the trade deadline instead of nothing.

    I gave the front office a break for the last few years. just happy that we have young tallent and we are competing. It was painfully obvious to any fan who followed this team that we needed help in the BP.

    but this off season has proved my point we have many gaps to fill now Ryu (who should have won the Cy young) is gone … Turner and Kershaw getting older. I don’t feel that the FO is capable of actually singing anyone that this club needs.

    I was actually happy that we didn’t go after any of last years FA at least the top few Machado and Harper were not a good fit and overpriced.

    It is quite absurd that in this article you’re saying that you feel (your opinion) need to buy players just to buy players. because the fans want them?if you’re looking at this dodger team and how some of the main staples on this team are aging you realize that there are holes that need filled in order for us to try to compete for the next few years World Series.
    that’s what the ultimate goal is right to compete for and win a World Series not just to win the West.
    I am happy with the team competing and winning the west.
    I served my country in 2 wars just to get the privilege to watch this team compete (I take nothing for granted)
    Some of you on this site know my story. I live 6 hours drive from glorious Chavez ravine. it’s about a 7 hour drive if you include getting into the stadium. me my wife and my 2 kids average between 6 and 8 dodger games a year. because of my injuries it is extremely difficult for me to get in to a vehicle and sit for that long, yet I want to share these experiences with my family. this will be the 1st year we will not buy a single dodger item or ticket. We will how ever make the trek to Mccovey cove to Root on the mighty blue in the heart of our rivals territory. (Not only is this only a 3 hour trip from Yosemite where I live but I am a warrior and will not back down from a challenge. I will no longer give any$ to a team unwilling to spend anything on KNOWN PROBLEMS.
    I will still support my team. I will love every player on the field, even ones that don’t necessarily compete at the level that I wish they would. but I will no longer support this front office if they will not support the fans by doing the very best they possibly can for this dodgers team.

    Moderation is for the weak and unimaginative. anything worth doing in life is over doing. if you can’t go all in for something that you love and are passionate about you shouldn’t be in that position.
    This years FA could have filled in places where we are lacking. At the same time allowing the kids to develop instead of putting so much unnecessary pressure to perform now.

    I still hope this Dodger team will win the World Series. In 2020 but I have 0 faith in the front office. See gail there’s a difference in rooting for team blindly Just because they’re that team versus seeing this team for what they are and that is teams that should and can win the World Series with the right pieces to go along with are already fantastic team. Sans should feel outraged the way we were taken out of last year’s playoffs and the front office to could have addressed issues going into the playoffs and yet they seemed like everything was OK and still have done nothing for this team except for weaken it. I’m sorry but this is the Los Angeles Dodgers I feel we could have already won one World Series with the proper pieces in have actually competed in are 3rd consecutive World Series maybe even knocking off the astro’s again.
    love this dodger team and hope somehow someway they can surprise me with what they have. On paper anyways we are a much weaker team and from the looks of things the yankees and a lot of other teams have gotten better while we have regressed.
    The front office has their head in the sand. I am hoping that the few passionate dodger fans out there that have been watching this terrible situation develop will stand up for their team and this front office and say enough is enough. I hope we can get our team over the hump and on to the parade that this city these fans and this team deserve.

    • Dodger Blue, thank you for serving brother! Well spoken and very sincere. Truth is truth and as currently constructed, this team simply will not match up with at least 5 teams I can think of. I’ve lost more interest than you. I won’t even attend games in Oakland or San Fran as I’m uninterested in my money supporting futile baseball! Its always been fun going out to the Ravine to watch the team each year but not anymore. Tired of the lies and do nothing FO that acts ad if 33 years is fine. Its not and embarrassing . When the Dodgers find time to acknowledge my concerns by being honest and forthright to me, and simply tell the truth for once I may bring the Ben Franklins back. But as a consumer that has to pay overinflated ticket,parking,concession prices it used to feel acceptable in hope the team would make some big moves to pay top talent to bring us a title. Not anymore, the last 3 years have been painful watching them blow it! The only team in L.A. that gets my money is the one that goes all out to win a title! ” THE LAKERS!

  16. Gail you put it out there just as I see it and I am right by your side every Dodger game and having the time of my life win or loose its so fun and exciting I to can’t wait for our boys to run on to that field and play ball THIS IS THE DODGERS YEAR!!!!

  17. Gail, Great articleI am 55 years old been a Dodger fan for 50 years adn I’m not going to lie I want a WS championship badly but I am also proud of our team and the development of the young talent with many more to follow. We have Lux next year, May, Gonsolin, Downs, Peters, Ruiz and it goes on and on. The fact that I read the Dodgers are not spending many is ridiculous and I for one love the fact that they are not cash strapped and like Boston now have to get rid of Betts for example and we have built from within and can add at anytime. Our FO has shown they will add when needed and they have IMO. Look at the Phillies I remember last year everyone wanted Harper, myself included until I read an article that said we already have a Hareper we have Belli and look at the year he had for 300 mil less.

    Kepp doing what your doind Blue and we will get our trophy in the meantime like you wrote in your artilce Baltimore and the Mets call us spoiled they are jealous of what we have and that is an opportunity to have a chance every year at the Chip

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