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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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The Meaning of the Game
2003-03-12 08:59
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

A guy named Bill Simms sent me an e-mail yesterday which contained the following:

You and I are about the same age, so we probably share some great memories of a time when we were younger (so the game meant more) and the Dodgers were what the Dodgers should be.

The game meant more.

Strange that of all the things he wrote in the letter, I would fixate on the words in parentheses.

I wrote Bill back, saying, "In some ways, the game meant more to me when I was younger, but in other ways, enduring the Dodgers' post-1988 struggles has left me perhaps even more invested."

My earliest baseball memory is seeing Hank Aaron's 715th home run on television in April 1974. I was 6 1/2 years old. Although I have no memories that precede that one, I do recall that Aaron hit that home run against the team I was rooting for: the Dodgers. So my allegiance to the team goes back even further.

For the next 15 seasons, the Dodgers finished first in the NL West six times and in second place four times. They never went more than three seasons without a postseason appearance. There were disappointments, but rather quickly there was a feeling that the disappointments wouldn't last very long.

At the same time, my childhood was happy as well. I did not want for much. Not that it was completely carefree, but I knew that I had it pretty good.

I graduated from college less than a year after Kirk Gibson's home run. And in a sense, the Dodgers and I entered the real world together.

It wasn't apparent right away. By the end of 1989, I had a full-time job as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News - in fact, I would prat around in my own head, adapting the lingo of the profession to brag to myself that I was "the youngest full-time sportswriter in Los Angeles."

Meanwhile, the Dodgers had their little two-season hiccup. Fourth place in 1989, second place in 1990. But in 1991, the timetable stated, the Dodgers would be back.

Instead, the Giants eliminated them on the last day of the season, and this team out of nowhere, with no pedigree for winning, the Atlanta Braves, came out of nowhere to win the division.

Around the same time, the Daily News hired a reporter named Marc Stein. Marc's a good guy - you might know him now as a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. But back then, like the Braves, Marc, well, infringed upon my timetable. He was now the youngest full-time sportswriter in Los Angeles, and much to my surprise, that actually seemed to mean something to our boss. He started to get plum assignments, and I started getting passed over.

In 1992, I did exactly what I now chide the Dodgers for doing. I got impatient, and I made a big move. I left the paper.

I left for graduate school at Georgetown, and I will say my degree was a much more worthwhile investment than Delino DeShields or Carlos Perez was for the Dodgers. But from that time on - more than 10 years ago now - the Dodgers and I have essentially become the Cubs. Some little successes, some hopes, but more questionable decisions and, certainly, no World Series.

In about the mid-1990s, after it became clear how awful the DeShields-Pedro Martinez trade was, I started to conjecture that the Dodgers really could become the Cubs - that a journey to 100 years of mediocrity can begin with a single step. Subsequently, I started to think that I might be following the same path. I'm a published writer, and people (some of them, anyway) have enjoyed my work. But I don't feel like I really made it to the champagne celebration in the locker room.

I'm very happy these days - I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful baby, and you won't catch me regretting the choices I made that allowed those things to happen. But I do have frustrations, and those frustrations, I've come to realize, are played out each time the Dodgers do something. Anything. I'm not just talking about the 162 games; I'm talking about the offseason trades and the decisions to replace the dirt warning track with rubber and the removal of the sandwich station on the Club level of Dodger Stadium. I was raised in an easier time, where things were more often right than wrong, and I haven't shed my addiction to that time. I want things with the Dodgers to be right. That, essentially, is the genesis of this website - to deal with that want.

I think what it is, is that when I was younger, the games were more fun. They were carefree. Now, they do seem to mean more to me. They carry this weight. And now, it's been so long since the Dodgers have been a winner, I can't imagine anymore what it will be like to celebrate that. I hope I enjoy the glory, if it ever comes, as much as I've suffered the pain. I think maybe I will.

My Dad, by the way, grew up in Chicago and attended the Cubs' last World Series in 1945. He roots for the Dodgers and the Cubs, and has also never gotten a foul ball, while I've snagged four. So, I've just got to remember - it's all about perspective.

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