One of the few pitfalls of residing in Los Angeles for months at a time is the constant barrage of Dodger Blue that I have to endure throughout baseball season. A significant impetus behind this monthly column is my city-hopping Left Coast lifestyle, and though I am generally happy whether I’m in S.F. or L.A. or in between, my baseball allegiance is unwavering. I am, have been, and will continue to be a devoted fan of the San Francisco Giants. And that’s win-or-lose, baby!
Regarding the win-or-lose thing, Giants fandom has been blessed over the past few years. As any conscious San Franciscan should know, two out of the last three World Series championships have been won by our boys in orange and black: MVPosey, the Panda, Timmy, Cainer, the Reverend Pence, Romo, and the rest. It’s been a thrill. But things went sour a couple of months ago as the Giants took a precipitous fall from the heights of last year’s Series victory to the lower reaches of the National League’s Western Division. Making matters worse, the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers have finally seen a return from the club’s massive overpayment for talent; as I write this, the L.A. Dogs are astride the top of the standings — and worse, they’ve been on an astonishing roll since the middle of the season. Now, they’ve even picked up flamboyant former Giants closer Brian “The Beard” Wilson as a free agent to bolster their bullpen and maybe gain inspiration from the World Series ring on his finger. Galling.
No need to rehash the hostile history of these teams, going back a hundred-plus years to the earliest days of the franchises when they were the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. It should suffice to say that dealing with the current turnabout has made the idea of being a Giants fan in L.A. this summer almost unbearable. Believe me. The Dodgers on a winning streak is more stultifying than the desert heat. And listening to sports radio in Los Angeles, which is something I find myself doing despite my best intentions, exacerbates the problem.
I do spend a considerable amount of time on the L.A. freeways, as anyone would expect. Gotta drive to stay alive in Southern California. And I really don’t mind being behind the wheel when I can listen to some new sounds on KCSM or KCRW or when I have the iPod on shuffle for what I like to call “Radio Mikey.” With eyes on the road and a voice-activated hands-free phone, you can do a little biz or chat up a pal, too. But there comes a time when you must get caught up on the scores or news about your team — or actually tune in to a game.
You’ve got those rare occasions when the Giants play the detested L.A. Angels and the more frequent times when one of the greatest rivalries in sports is in effect — the Giants versus the Dodgers. Either match-up is a trial to hear over the airwaves without the deft, clever, and engaging San Francisco broadcast team of Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, and Dave Flemming on the microphone. In L.A., I have to suffer through a bunch of jabbering, indistinguishable clowns and the hoary anecdote machine/Dodger icon Vin Scully on play-by-play. I get it. I get it. Scully is a legend to Angeleno baseball fans. But his drone has always been less than pleasant to these ears except when I was enjoying him make excuses for the Dodgers during the Giants’ recent championship seasons.
Games aside, sports-talk radio in L.A. is like it is in most American cities: loudmouth fan-wank with plenty of lowbrow “humor.” As bad as it is in any corner of the United States, it’s downright insulting when it doesn’t concern your favorite teams — and it’s even worse when it extols the virtues of your teams’ enemies (such as the vile Lakers). And don’t get me started on the L.A. coverage of professional football. If you’re a Niners fan, good luck getting a single word on the NFL in a city where there is currently no pro franchise at all.
So September is upon us, and things don’t look good for the Giants as the 2013 season winds down. Yet, in my knee-jerk way, as I navigate the 134 from Glendale to Studio City or the 101 from downtown to Bel-Air, I will turn on the radio and hope for the best. Even if it’s a wait-till-next-year situation for the Orange and Black Attack, I still have my postseason mantra when it comes to winning the World Series. It’s as easy as ABD — Anybody But the Dodgers!