1. Matt Kemp
You’ve got to start at the top. The current Dodger regime has gone through some ups and downs, but through it all emerged a bona fide star. Last season, Kemp rose out of the shadows and posted MVP-worthy numbers. He was one home run shy of a 40/40 season and about ten hits short of a Triple Crown. This winter, the ownership signed him to an eight-year extension, ensuring that Dodger fans will have a superstar to anchor the lineup and the outfield on a daily basis until 2020. Kemp has the swagger and skill to keep fans coming to Chavez Ravine; he’s already predicted an unprecedented 50/50 season this year.
2. Dodger Stadium
Speaking of Chavez Ravine, you’ve got to love Dodger Stadium. It’s situated above most of the city, so you get a brilliant view of the sun setting over the skyline in one direction, and the Santa Monica hills in the other. There is just something about the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium that is magnetic. It’s stayed current, but maintained its historic significance at the same time. And players commonly rank the field at Dodger Stadium as their favorite in all of baseball to play on.
3. The Dodger History
What more do you have to say than: Jackie Robinson. From the days in Brooklyn to the move to Los Angeles, the Dodgers franchise has been one of the most historic and valuable in any sport, ever. Not only did Robinson break the color barrier, but also by doing so, he played a large role in the Civil Rights movement in general. We’ve had Jackie, we’ve had Sandy Koufax, we’ve had Fernando Valenzuela. The list of players that starred for the Dodgers and made gigantic, positive impacts on the sport of baseball is endless.
4. The moments
Every fan can claim that a good part of rooting for their team is the moments that went down in history. But the Dodgers just seem to have a flair for the dramatic. There was Kirk Gibson’s home run in 1988. And of course Steve Finley’s division-winning, walk-off grand slam in 2004 against the Giants. Or the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs to tie the game in the 9th, preceding a walk-off by Nomar Garciaparra in the 10th just six years ago…the Dodgers own some of the most incredible, crazy moments in baseball history.
Speaking of Gibson, the Dodgers’ last World Series title came in 1988. It was a long time ago, and they have won six overall, but for my generation, this is the moment we refer to. The magnitude of that Series was so large that it still resonates among the fan base. No doubt, we are all hungry for another one, but “in a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened,” keeps us going.
6. Vin Scully
In case you live under a rock, the reference at the end of number five was the call by Scully on Gibson’s historic home run. Vin is the pride and joy of this Dodger franchise, entering his 62nd season as the voice of the team. Nobody calls a better game than him, nobody captures a moment better than him, and he is hands-down the greatest announcer in the game. Scully is in his mid-80s, and this Dodger fan would love nothing more than to see the boys in blue take home one last title for their beloved announcer before he retires.
7. Dodger Dogs
Oh, you knew they would be on here. If you haven’t had a Dodger Dog, you’re missing out on an essential part of baseball culinary history. These franks are so good that the Dodgers sold approximately two MILLION of them in 2011. The Dodgers are one of the only teams that serves such an iconic ballpark snack that it’s synonymous with the actual franchise. Dodger Dogs even spawned a chain of small restaurants in the Southern California area. If you’ve been to a game at Dodger Stadium and never tried a Dog, you should be ashamed.
8. Clayton Kershaw
We have Matt Kemp on offense, and the reigning N.L. Cy Young winner Kershaw in the rotation. He’s only 23 years old, but he has garnered comparisons to Koufax. Those are very deserved of a young man who wows crowds all over the big leagues with a blazing fastball and electric off-speed pitches. The sky is the limit for Kershaw, and that’s what excites the Dodger fan base the most. If he’s already got a Cy Young award, what else can he do throughout his career. We can only hope that he is signed long-term as soon as the ownership situation is resolved. Oh, did I mention, Kershaw outdueled the Giants’ Tim Lincecum to the tune of 4-0 last season? Any dominance of the Giants is greatly appreciated in Dodgertown.
9. The farm system
This has always been a strong point of the Dodgers. Personally, my memory goes back to the mid-to-late 90’s, when the team boasted five straight National League Rookie of the Year awards. The Dodgers’ franchise has won the award a staggering sixteen times, including another run of four straight from 1979-1982, and Jackie Robinson’s win in the inaugural 1947 vote. This team seemingly always has exciting new talent waiting in the wings, which keeps the fan base excited for the future no matter what. Most recently, Dee Gordon has provided a spark at the leadoff spot and we’re looking forward to see if he can be the next young Dodger star.
10. Rivalry vs. the Giants
This rivalry has taken a turn for the worst in recent years, but on the field, it’s the most ferocious back-and-forth in sports. These teams passionately hate each other. It’s been that way since their days in New York. From legendary brawls, to intense pennant races, to ripping each other in the media, these two teams mix like oil and water. And boy is it fun to watch on the field. Even if the Dodgers are having a down season, winning the season series from the Giants is considered a successful year. Ponder this: since 1901, the two teams have played over 2,000 times and the win difference is only 16 games. That’s what I call a rivalry, and these are the reasons I love being a Dodger fan.