That word sums up our society today. “Relevant” means this, according to Merriam Webster: “Having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand.”
All you need to do is look at Twitter or Facebook or what’s trending on Yahoo! to see that if something isn’t relevant, people don’t care about it. The matter at hand is the here and now, not 1988.
That year is the last time the Los Angeles Dodgers have truly been relevant. I’ve spent the past 24 years pulling for a team that has been virtually irrelevant. The Dodgers have won division titles since their last World Series appearance and victory in 1988. They have also made (brief) playoff appearances since then. But the Dodgers haven’t really been relevant.
New ownership, an enigmatic presence in Magic Johnson, who is everywhere (even on Twitter!) pumping up his Dodgers, and a roster full of talented players has brought the Dodgers back to Relevantville.
Oh, and we can’t forget a whole heap-load of money.
One of the most well-respected baseball writers in the business, Jayson Stark, recently said this about the new-look Dodgers on ESPN:
“These aren’t Frank McCourt’s Dodgers anymore. Or the O’Malley family’s Dodgers. Or any federal bankruptcy court’s Dodgers. This is now one of the all-time sports behemoths. And apparently, it plans to flex its behemoth-ness whenever the time — and the latest available free-agent icon — is right.”
All-time sports behemoths? That’s cool! I can live with the Dodgers being labeled like that.
However, not everyone is giddy with excitement about the prospects of the Dodgers tasting postseason glory for the first time since the antidepressant Prozac was introduced in this country in 1988 (isn’t that ironic that Prozac was introduced right before Dodger fans had to start suffering the 24-year curse of futility?).
Vincent Bonsignore of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, had this to say about the free-spending Dodgers:
“After years and years of all the penny pinching and corner cutting by previous Dodgers regimes, I’m somehow wondering if they are now going too far in the other direction under Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Baseball Group. I don’t know about you, but when it takes $220 million to build a baseball team, a little bit of joy is taken out of it.”
I’ve got news for you, Vincent. There is no joy taken out of watching my lifelong team finally become relevant again. The joy is taken out of constantly watching Clayton Kershaw pitch his butt off, only to watch his inept teammates lose games 1-0 or 2-1.
Joy is taken out of it watching Matt Kemp set the world on fire the first month of the 2012 season with 14 homers, only to have him still lead the team in homers by July after missing more than two months of the season.
Joy is taken out of being a Dodgers fan when the Dodgers consistently are at the top of the National League in pitching, but near the bottom in homers, RBIs and runs scored.
It’s fun to be a Dodgers fan right now. The Dodgers are trending on Yahoo! Folks are talking about them on Twitter. Heck, even the big, bad New York Yankees don’t seem as feared and powerful as the Dodgers.
Will I be this joyful this time next year if the Dodgers don’t make some postseason noise after all of this spending? Absolutely not. It is fun, though, to have the legitimate hope that the Dodgers have put themselves in the position to once again be relevant.
When all of the 2013 MLB preview magazines hit the newsstands in the coming months, the Dodgers will have a presence on their covers. When the predictions for the upcoming season are published, the Dodgers will get some palm-reading love.
There might have been no joy in Mudville when the Mighty Casey struck out, but there is joy in Chavez Ravine today. Now it’s up to manager Don Mattingly and the players to keep the Dodgers relevant.