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Big League Stew

The 10 best things about being a Dodgers fan

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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The request we're sending to bloggers of all 30 teams this spring is a simple one: What are the 10 best things about being a fan of your favorite team? What features of the franchise have you excited for opening day and what keeps you coming back year after year?

As we progress with our little experiment, we're glad to hear that so many of you are enjoying the ride. Up next are our favorite set of offspring, the Sons of Steve Garvey.

1. Vin Scully: "Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be" are the words that begin each Dodger game that Vin Scully broadcasts. One feels compelled to answer him: "On the sofa, Vinny!" or "Out on the patio, Vinny!" It's as if we were having a conversation, just Vin and the listener. And that's exactly it: Vin broadcasting a game is as if he were having a conversation with us, the fans.

"It's time for Dodger baseball!" Vin lets us know each game, and only when he proclaims it so is it so. The game goes on, Vin providing the soundtrack to a summer's evening or a fall afternoon. His cadence and delivery, the stories he tells (and some he re-tells), the many Vin-icisms we've all come to know, the certain way he pronounces a player's name — all these blend together to form nine or more innings of sheer bliss, sometimes almost overshadowing the game itself.

Vin Scully is the soul of Dodger baseball; his voice, his spirit, and, above all, his class, have been cherished treasures for generations of Dodger fans.

[ Video: New Dodger Jerry Hairston, Jr. trains with high-tech fitness gear ]

2. Dodger Stadium: Tommy Lasorda calls it "Blue Heaven on Earth." From April to September (and hopefully longer) we call it "home." Someday soon someone may pay through the nose to call it "SoullessCorporateEntity.com Field." Call it what you want, but the best ballpark in the game is, was, and always will be Dodger Stadium.

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(AP)

From the bleachers to the top deck, there isn't a bad seat in the house (except the baseline box seats that Frank McCourt added in 2005. They both force you to crane your neck 90 degrees to take in the action and rob the field of precious foul territory). Even the top deck gives you great sightlines, and best of all, breathtaking views of the San Gabriel Mountains in front of you and downtown L.A. behind you.

The third-oldest park in MLB is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Walk through the gates today, and you can still hear the echoes of Sandy's perfect game or Gibby's epic home run. We highly recommend taking advantage of any opportunity to step onto the immaculately maintained field. It's a religious experience.

3. Legacy: The Dodger franchise is thick with its own rich history. Even bigger than its on-field success — and more important — is its legacy of progressiveness and diversity. The Dodgers introduced Jackie Robinson to the big leagues in 1947, breaking the so-called color barrier in baseball, which also helped chip away at that same barrier in many other aspects of American life.

Modernly, across Major League Baseball one day each year, players on every team don the hallowed No. 42, the number Jackie wore proudly but often with trepidation and fear, to pay tribute to his courage and pioneering spirit. There's a special feeling to being a Dodger fan on that day, and to being able to visit every ballpark in the league and see Jackie's number retired.

Today the Dodger fan base reflects the vast diversity of people from all walks of life and all types of racial and ethnic backgrounds in a lasting tribute to the path that Jackie forged.

4. ... Enough misery to keep us grounded: Nobody will argue the Dodgers haven't enjoyed their share of the spotlight over the years. But a team doesn't earn the nickname "Dem Bums" without tasting a heaping portion of defeat to counterbalance those victories. Dodger fans have seen both sides, and we've learned to be philosophical about both the highs and the lows. Haven't won a championship since 1988? That's nothing compared to the decades of winning the National League, only to be thwarted by the mighty Yankees.

It's just the right balance that keeps us hungry even when things could be going better. That theme extends to the team itself. The Dodgers, even at their best, were still a flawed bunch. Those dominant pitching performances by Koufax and Drysdale weren't usually backed up by explosive offenses. Our way has often been "just enough" and that suits us fine. We know to savor our victories, but until then, it's "wait 'til next year," just like it always was.

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5. The uniform: Crisp, clean and classic, the Dodgers' home whites have remained virtually unchanged for decades (notwithstanding McCourt's poorly received decision to remove player names in 2005-2006). In a league where teams switch from purple and teal to "sedona red" in a heartbeat, the Dodgers' sartorial consistency represents a comforting adherence to, well, looking damn good. All hail the red (number), white (polyester moisture-wicking performance mesh) and blue (Pantone 294)!

6. A Giant rivalry: Coke has Pepsi, McDonalds has Burger King, and the Dodgers have the Giants — that nemesis organization that hates us way more than we even think about them. But it's good to have an archrival to keep you honest; after all, the Giants are recent World Series champions. Which is why Dodger fans are looking with such optimism at homegrown heroes Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw as the latest generation of Giant-killers, following in the footsteps of Koufax and Drysdale (and more recently, Piazza and Finley).

7. Nancy Bea Hefley: Nancy Bea Hefley is entering her 25th season as Dodger Stadium's in-house organist, and the "Ironwoman of professional organists" provides Dodger fans with an oasis of mellifluousness far superior to the usual canned music between innings. From her signature fanfare that accompanies the Dodgers as they take the field (as well as ends "Take Me Out to the Ballgame") to her impeccable song selection (Orel Hershiser will always be "Master of the House"), Nancy Bea provides a classic ballpark with the classic soundtrack it deserves.

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8. Easternmost in quality, westernmost in flavor! Other stadium dogs may claim to be bigger, or better, but there is no ballpark food more iconic than the Dodger Dog. Consuming at least one is a mandatory part of a Dodger fan's game regimen. (Pity the vegan fans.) People swap stories of how many Dodger Dogs they ate at a game. They take pictures of their first (and second, and third, and 11th) Dog of the season. Dodger Dogs are available two ways: grilled or steamed (with helpful vendor signage available to tell you which you're in line for). The grilled version is the way to get it, but the steamed will do in a pinch.

Don't believe they're that good? Check out the lines clogging the concourses each night. They're not lining up for Carl's Jr., Panda Express, or whatever other fast-food brand ownership is trying to force down our throats. They're waiting for the one and only Dog that wears its bun like a pair of flood pants. (And beer. They're waiting for beer, too.) Try one the way Vin likes his, with just a little mustard and onions.

9. Pregame traditions: L.A. is so spread out it can be hard to find regular gatherings of like-minded folk, but Dodger Stadium's no-tailgating policy actually makes it easier to figure out where to go. There's always the Short Stop, smallish and divey and the perfect place for pregame imbibing.

Most famously there's Philippe's, the ritual meeting place for Dodger fans of all ages and backgrounds, all united around an unwavering support of their team and an unyielding appreciation of a solid "French dipped" pork sandwich with plenty of hot mustard. The sawdust on the ground and initials carved in the brick walls speak to the depth and longevity of the Philippe's tradition.

10. Deep metaphysical discussions while you wait for the parking lot to clear: We're not sure if this is commonly understood, but traffic in Los Angeles sucks. Remember, most of those allegedly ambivalent fans, the ones that can be seen walking in late and sneaking out early, are spending some serious time on the road to get to the game. It's practically odyssean some nights. Afterwards, there are the parking lots. Oh, the parking lots. Public transportation may slowly be making a comeback in L.A., but getting your car out of the Dodger Stadium parking lots can still be soul-crushing.

Some of us, however, choose not to bolt for the exits after the final out is recorded. It might be late, and you might still have to be at work early, but if you rush, you'll only find yourself in the automotive equivalent of a Disneyland queue. If it was a win, just sit back and enjoy the moment. If it's a loss, then take some time and work out where it all went wrong, and what it all means. It's a little ritual before having to let go and rejoin the real world.

The next time you're at Dodger Stadium, consider pondering the mysteries of the universe with us for a bit before you run right out to suck in exhaust fumes while stuck behind an Escalade for 45 minutes. There really are too few times in our lives where there is literally no place else to be.

Editor's note: The Sons filed this with the Stew before it was announced that the Dodgers had a new owner. With that in mind, we've given them one extra entry. Here it is.

11. Magic. Hell yeah!

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What are your favorite things about being a Dodgers fan?

Previous "10 Best Things": Detroit TigersCincinnati RedsKansas City RoyalsOakland AthleticsMinnesota TwinsLos Angeles AngelsArizona DiamondbacksSan Francisco Giants,Baltimore OriolesMilwaukee BrewersNew York YankeesColorado RockiesSt. Louis CardinalsHouston AstrosNew York MetsTampa Bay RaysPittsburgh PiratesToronto Blue JaysCleveland IndiansSan Diego PadresAtlanta BravesChicago Cubs, Miami Marlins


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