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Core Samples

Well, here we are again. We’ve been here before, and, no doubt, down the road, we’ll be back. It’s a cycle with an aura of ongoing penance but without the necessity of absolution. It’s a very blue place. Over the years, we even learned to bleed blue. We are a tribe with a creation myth built on betrayal. We are Los Angeles Dodger fans.

You probably know one. Not that there are a lot of us, but we’re all over the map. We’re everywhere, and in this particular space/time, mostly out of the closet — and, for the most part, accepted. "Some of my best friends are Dodger fans." You hear that kind of thing now and then in Main Street bars.

And, following yet another blown opportunity and quick exit from the postseason, bars were just about the best place to locate Dodger fans in search of some sort of holistic solution to their woes. Some tried aromatherapy along the Stewart Falls trail up at Sundance, but even the burnt umber of autumn found itself hard pressed to actually heal wounds that run this deep.

In that we have been through this many times before, it is common knowledge among those of the "blue" persuasion that, even for lovable losers, becoming whole can take awhile. Not that we will ever give up on our beloved "bums." Just let someone else try badmouthing the inexplicable manner in which they run the bases or their total lack of "clutch" during crunch-time.

Some of us have been onboard with blue since Drysdale was a rookie. That would be back when they were the Brooklyn Dodgers from "Flatbush" and performed their zany antics in Ebbet’s Field. It’s quite inexplicable how such an outfit wormed its way into so many hearts, only to, time and time again, break them. Oftentimes, quite unceremoniously!

But then California came-a-calling and the bums stole away from their beloved Brooklyn, leaving their fans in a lurch. It should be mentioned here as a footnote, that a "lurch" is somewhat longer than it is wide and contains absolutely no forgiveness or turn-the-other-cheek — not where a betrayal of this magnitude is concerned.

And as became quite evident during the two games played against the Mets back at Shea Stadium this past week, the Dodgers and their then owner Walter O’Malley remain very much personae non gratae, not only in the borough in question, but the Big Apple as a whole. British Revolutionary War General Sir William Howe is remembered with more fondness.

It’s not that we believe that the "line spaces" between our triumphs stretch out so far solely due to karma. No, over the years we have also come to learn the role that sheer, well-timed, ineptitude can play. Last week we pulled off a "bonehead" play for the ages when two Dodger base runners arrived at home plate within a few seconds of each other. Both, of course, had their tickets punched.

Soon after arriving on the left coast, the Los Angeles Dodgers rewarded their fans with the 1959 World Series Championship. Surviving a one-game playoff with the then Milwaukee Braves, they went on, after losing the opening game 11-0, to defeat the Chicago White Sox in six games.

But, as any baseball fan will tell you, even when you win, but more so when you lose, the rallying cry is "wait ’til next year." Over the years, the boys in blue brought home the World Series pennant in 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988, not that anyone’s counting.

1988 was the year Kirk Gibson hit his now-famous, limp-up-to-the-plate, arm-pumping, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off Dennis Eckersley’s 3-and-2 count "back door slider" in game one of the series against the "unbeatable" Oakland A’s. Not that the moment is ingrained in any Dodger fan’s memory.

But, to avid baseball fans, 18 years is eternity. Not even the fact that the Dodgers’ biggest rivals, the San Francisco Giants, have yet to win a World Series title since moving to the West Coast in 1958, brings much consolation.

But there are always the memories, both good and bad. Like when the bums swept the Yankees with Sandy Koufax out-dueling Whitey Ford in the final game. Ford tossed a two hitter and lost. If memory serves, a jug of Cutty Sark exchanged hands on that one.

But then there are moments when opposing team home runs from the likes of Joe Morgan of the Giants or Jack Clark of the Cardinals stop time in its tracks. Not that these events stick in your craw forever, just for your lifetime.

So once again we Dodger fans are waiting ’til next year, for the arrival of spring and rebirth and opening day when hope lays upon the land. No doubt General Manager Ned Colletti found this most recent ending unacceptable and bold changes are in the works. He and the rest of the front office are no doubt busy "retooling," as they say.

I believe that. Don’t you? I trust the Dodger organization will do all it can to bring relief to their long-suffering fans and won’t settle for the status quo. Younger impact players, particularly on the pitching staff, are no doubt, in the works.

But, for the most part, I liked this club and they were a lot of fun to follow this season. Nomar Garciaparra, although injured much of the year, was a solid addition, not to mention the sheer joy he brought to the ballpark each and every day. It was great having him back in his hometown.

Actually, as opposed to the rest of my family, I would rather lose with a roster I like than win with one I don’t. This year’s Dodger ball club provided more thrills and spills than most any in recent memory and, even though we looked like bloomin’ idiots against the Mets, they made it a season to remember.

There is no other sport with as much nuance and mind play as baseball. It is pure poetry. Each pitch is a totally new ballgame — with bench coaches signaling catchers who move outfielders and infielders and third-base coaches who signal runners to steal or hitters to hit and run or sacrifice bunt. It is life in microcosm, and, as far as my Dodgers are concerned, just you wait ’til next year.


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