As far as major league baseball in Los Angeles is concerned, the Dodgers will always be the storied team going back to its beginnings in 1884 in Brooklyn with 6 World Championships and 22 Pennants to boast about over 130 years. And then there are those Angels over there in Anaheim — a baseball afterthought since 1961 with an identity problem (are they from L.A. or are they from Anaheim?).
So when they play each other, which has only been since inter-league play was adopted in 1999, it’s always been an opportunity for the Angels to prove something, and the Dodgers to send the young upstarts back to wherever they came from.
Of course now, with 9 American League West titles, 1 World Championship, and the reigning MVP on its roster in Mike Trout, the Angels have shown they deserve to be on the same field with the Dodgers, and in the stands, a rivalry has formed, so that lots of red and blue dot the stadium whenever these two teams take the field. It’s a rivalry, for sure, although to date, a very friendly one.
In fact, at a recent spring training game between these two teams, I sat next to two couples displaying obvious conflicted relationships. First there was Mario and Maribel from Riverside — Mario draped in Dodger blue, and Maribel in a white Angels tank top and red cap. Their daughter, Emily, not wanting to take sides wore no signage at all, but kept taking pictures of what she thought were cute Dodger players because we were sitting right next to the Dodger dugout. Of course plenty of good nature in this family conflict.
And then there was Karen and Ed sitting in front of me, and when I mentioned something about conflicted relationships Karen was quick to point out, “Oh this isn’t a relationship; he’s my father.”
“Well, I’d say that was a pretty important relationship,” I said, laughing, and Karen agreed. Turns out Dad now lives in Nevada and Karen lives in Irvine, and since they both love baseball, spring training in Arizona provides a wonderful opportunity for them to get together, and with Dad in his eighties, those opportunities gain more and more significance by the year. By the third inning, Dad had retreated to the shade at the back of the stadium due to temperatures in the upper nineties, but when Karen found out I wanted their picture, she insistent that I find them after the game, which I did.
But the most interesting of all was Monica. I met Monica after the game as I walked to my car. A gentleman I passed made a comment that forced me to turn around and look. “You need to make a decision,” he shouted. There behind me with her friend in Arizona Diamondbacks gear, was Monica, sporting an Angels jersey and a blue LA Dodgers cap. This was obviously a more serious problem revealing a conflicted personality, but her big smile seemed to rule out any serious schizophrenia. Though she grew up in Los Angeles, she lives in Arizona now, where her friend, C.C., supports the local team. Monica simply likes L.A..
“So who do you root for when they play each other?” I asked.
“Both of them,” she said, smiling. “That way, I can’t lose.”
All of this proving one thing: that in baseball, the real winners are not on the field, they are the families and the friends this great American pastime brings together.