In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry’s fellow comedian and “Dentist to the Stars” Tim Whatley (played by Bryan Cranston) converts to Judaism, and Jerry comes to believe that Tim did so just so he could make jokes about Jewish culture and get away with it. Jerry goes to Tim’s Catholic priest to complain:
JERRY: “I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Whatley. I have a suspicion that he’s converted to Judaism purely for the jokes!”
PRIEST: “And this offends you as a Jewish person?”
JERRY: “No, it offends me as a comedian!”
Which brings us to Scott Craven of AZCentral.com. He wrote an article entitled, “10 ways to spot Dodgers fans during the NLDS against the Diamondbacks.” The reaction to Craven’s article has been swift and strong, prompting the publication to put a disclaimer at the top: “Update: We’re adding this note due to the tremendous social media reaction this article received. The piece was meant to be in jest. Satirical. Tongue-in-cheek. All in good fun.”
Here’s the thing: The purpose of the piece was never in question. Everyone who read it knew it was supposed to be funny. We weren’t offended as Dodger fans. We were offended as people who have read actual funny things before.
I am a Dodger fan, and I debated whether to write this, because I knew I might come across as defensive and insecure, and that made me worry that I might be mistaken for a Diamondbacks fan or owner. But there are some good points to be made about a very good fan base, so here I go with a point-by-point rebuttal to Scott Craven’s “satirical” piece. (We might have to save the discussion about the definition of “satire” for another day.)
Here is Craven’s “simple field guide to spotting the typical Dodger fan.”
“Their L.A. jerseys and hats are brand new, purchased from the bandwagon’s souvenir stand.”
In 2010, the Dodgers finished in fourth place in the National League West. The drew more than 3.5 million fans that year.
In 2011, the Dodgers finished in third place and were basically out of the race by late May. The team was in bankruptcy and ownership had shown a complete lack of regard for the team’s fans. Nearly 3 million fans came and watched the Dodgers play that season.
In 2012, the Dodgers missed the postseason for the third straight year. Ownership finally changed hands, which raised a ton of new questions. Matt Kemp, who had nearly won the NL Most Valuable Player Award the previous year, had the first of many injuries and missed 56 games. In fact, Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis were the only Dodgers to play the full season. More than 3.3 million fans came to Dodger Stadium that season.
Beginning in 2013, the Dodgers had a TV deal that prevented 70 percent of Los Angeles from watching Dodger games on television. That deal is still in place today. For the past five seasons, a huge chunk of Dodger fans have been unable to watch their favorite team play every day. In those five seasons, attendance at Dodger Stadium has been: 3,743,527 (most in baseball) in 2013; 3,782,337 (most in baseball) in 2014; 3,764,815 (most in baseball) in 2015; 3,703,312 (most in baseball) in 2016; and 3,765,856 (most in baseball) in 2017.
Only twice in the past 22 seasons have the Dodgers drawn fewer than 3 million fans, and one of those seasons was when the owner was using the team as his personal piggy bank. The last time the Dodgers drew fewer than fans than the 2017 Diamondbacks, Vin Scully was 44 years old and Richard Nixon was president.
If Dodger fans are on a bandwagon, it’s a BIG wagon and it’s been around a LONG time. (Oh, and by the way, there are still tickets available for tonight’s NLDS game at Chase Field. Perhaps the DBacks ought to invest in a bandwagon of their own.)
“They fire up Facebook Live and transmit the game as if they have baseball’s expressed written consent. And they don’t.”
I assume this was funny in Craven’s head.
“They pony up for seats right behind home plate so they can put, ”Uncredited baseball fan, background” on their acting resumes.”
Get it? Cuz everyone in L.A. is an actor! Although if you get seats right behind home plate at Chase Field, you actually do have a good chance of becoming part of the action when the DBacks’ inferiority complex shines through and they force you to cover your Dodger Blue with something that makes them less uncomfortable.
“Like salmon swimming upstream, they instinctively head to the exits by the seventh inning regardless of the score, ostensibly to beat traffic. More likely, they’re bored because not one person has recognized them.”
The Dodgers averaged 46,492 fans per game this year. If 25 percent of the Dodger Stadium crowd leaves early, that leaves an average of 34,869 for the end of the game, or 8,339 more than showed up to the average DBacks game in the first place. So even if you are inclined to give more criticism for leaving early than credit for battling the traffic to fill the stadium in the first place, the DBacks might not have the right fan base to hurl those critiques. Glass houses and whatnot.
“When the Dodgers fall behind, they focus on Twitter and feign indifference.”
Craven seems really interested in the social media habits of Dodger fans. Maybe this is an inside joke that made his brother laugh?
“Regardless of score, it’s a win if they receive a text from their agent telling them they landed the pharmaceutical commercial, unless it’s the one about that skin condition.”
Ha ha ha! Did I mention that Dodger Stadium is near Hollywood, where a lot of movies, television shows, and commercials are made? Ha ha ha! Have you ever noticed that men and women are different? Oh, and people of different races, too! Don’t stop me, I can go all night!
“They wear vacant looks that aren’t signs of detachment; they’re thinking of ways to go viral.”
This was accompanied by a GIF of Kiké Hernandez staring blankly into the camera as a goof. Apparently Craven saw that GIF and thought, “Vacant look. What can I do with vacant look? Ummmmm, I haven’t mentioned social media in three seconds, maybe I can tie that in.”
“They expect the Dodgers to win because while money can’t buy happiness, it can buy victories.”
Tonight’s starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks: Zack Greinke, for whom Arizona outbid the Dodgers.
There is not a single big free agent signing on the Dodgers’ postseason roster. Of the 25 players on the Dodgers’ NLDS roster, here is how they were acquired:
- Drafted and developed by the Dodgers: 7 (Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen, Kyle Farmer, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling)
- Acquired via trade prior to MLB debut: 2 (Andre Ethier, Austin Barnes)
- Signed as unheralded free agent: 2 (Brandon Morrow, Justin Turner)
- Signed as international free agent: 2 (Kenta Maeda, Yasiel Puig)
- Acquired via trade: 12 (Alex Wood, Chase Utley, Chris Taylor, Curtis Granderson, Josh Fields, Kiké Hernandez, Logan Forsythe, Rich Hill, Tony Cingrani, Tony Watson, Yasmani Grandal, Yu Darvish)
“That’s them circling Chase Field in their Priuses, looking for that parking spot right out front like the one always there in the movies.”
First half of the sentence: lazy cliché. Second half of the sentence: accusing others of lazy clichés. Magical.
“When people discuss the last time their favorite team won the World Series, they conveniently excuse themselves to get another Americano.”
Yeah, you’ll never find a Dodger fan who’s willing to talk about 1988. Super sensitive subject that we just don’t like to talk about. But the worst part about this one is that it is offensive to Craven’s target audience: only a child would find this drivel amusing, and none of them were alive yet in 2001 when the Diamondbacks won their last (and only) World Series title.
Like I said, I’m not offended as a Dodger fan. It would take some actual valid (or at least witty) points to do that, or even to put me on the defensive. I am offended as a writer, as a baseball fan, and as someone who knows the difference between something you put on Facebook so your friends can tell you “you’re so funny” and something you publish to the world.