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Dodger Fans Really Show the Way to Be Charitable

The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

July 17, 2005|T.J. Simers

You defy explanation, but you people should be proud of yourselves for the way you have supported the Dodgers. I don't know anyone else who would have done it.

You were here Friday night, more than 51,000 strong to watch the Dodger scrubs give it their all against the Barry Bonds-less Giants, and because of your dedication, the guys almost scored a run.

You were here again Saturday, although it might not have looked like it in the stadium, but you were here at least in money spent with 48,490 tickets sold for a team that was going to finish the day either nine or 11 games under .500.

Some people donate to charity, but you folks have dug deep to make sure guys such as Jason Phillips can continue to make it paycheck-to-paycheck. (I've maintained for some time now they ought to make the price of tickets tax deductible since so many athletes complain about how they can barely make it, and without your contributions they'd be out of jobs.)

Before Saturday's game I asked Phillips if he could explain why so many people continue to pay to watch the Dodgers flop around, and he said, "The games are very entertaining -- things are happening in the field you've never seen before." Then Phillips went out and proved the point, getting the game-winning hit.

You continue to back this team. The Dodgers, while unbearable to watch at times, became the first team in the National League on Friday to surpass 2 million in attendance this season. Who knew that Mike Edwards would be such a draw?

The Dodgers reached the 2 million mark after 44 home dates, the quickest the franchise has done so since 1991, and you can certainly understand why. It's so much fun to come out and guess the name of the guy who just struck out. (I always guess Jayson Werth, and I find that more often than not, I'm right.)

Obviously you love these guys, which is good, because I can't imagine too many other towns that would fall for such stiffs. This really is the happiest place on earth with fans chanting "Hee-Seop Choi" in celebration of having their very own .236 hitter. You can just imagine how the place might rock if he ever reaches .250.

More than that, you have gone out of your way to make the McCourts feel at home, telling them every day when you go through the turnstiles that everything they have done is right on the money, even though they might not have any.

Personally, I believe you should be chanting, "Show me the money," but you have chosen not to listen to Page 2.

I eliminated the Dodgers from playoff contention on opening day, but you've continued to back the McCourts, and so they really do believe they are doing a great job even though they have a third-place team in the worst division.

In an interview last week with the SportsBusiness Journal, Jamie McCourt was asked about misperceptions of the McCourts.

"I think fans really understand that we care, so I'm not sure that there's a misperception," she said. "The fans are different from the media, so I'm not sure that you can really link the two together, and I think that's clear from the attendance."

Yes, you have given the McCourts a ringing endorsement by showing up in record numbers. You have made it clear you don't care what kind of product the Dodgers put on the field, thereby telling the McCourts in your own way that there is no compelling reason for ownership to make good on the promise to spend $100 million on players.

You've made it clear you will take whatever Steve Schmoll they give you.

"Most of our fans understand the reality of what's going on here," Frank McCourt said in a recent Page 2 interview. "They understand how committed we are to winning, how hard we've been hit by injuries, and they appreciate the way the players are battling. That's why they are coming out in record numbers."

So you're coming out to Dodger Stadium these days because you know how committed the McCourts are to winning. I think you're crazy, but if that's what you believe, then so be it.

I just wonder about this commitment to winning. If the McCourts think they've already got your backing, and that could be in tickets sold already for the second half of the season, I just wonder if they'll have any motivation to spend any money before the trading deadline.

What do you think? You're their biggest supporters.

Maybe you just like the loud music, and that's why you show up. Or maybe you like playing with beach balls. It's been a while since someone ran on the field and got tackled by a hundred security guards still hoping for a job with the Arena Football League, but maybe it's the anticipation of it happening again.

It's obviously not good baseball that is bringing you to the park, so it really must be your faith in the McCourts and Paul DePodesta's eye for talent. You people really are something.

"I like to see fans -- win or lose -- who stick with a team," Phillips said. "I don't like front-runners."

Front-runners, of course, wait before spending their entertainment dollars to ensure what they're buying will be entertaining.

If you did that, Dodger Stadium would be empty now and there would be nobody there to back the McCourts and the boys in blue. For that reason, I know you don't get told this very often, but you deserve a lot of credit for what's happening this year.

*

TODAY'S LAST word comes from Clippers Spirit Dance Team director Jessie Christensen:

"We're going to have something like 200 girls auditioning to be cheerleaders and we'd like you to be a judge and whittle that down to 40 [today]. We're going to ask you to look at each of these girls and see if you can picture them wearing a Clippers' Spirit uniform."

I'm going to go home right now and practice with the wife.

T.J. Simers can be reached at

t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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