Having been a die-hard Dodger fan for more than a half century I have gone through many off-seasons and every year is it pretty much the same thing – the instant the final out is recorded in the final game of the World Series, I simply cannot wait for the new season to begin.
Around the middle of December (usually after the Winter Meetings), I begin making my plans to attend spring training – reserving my motel room, purchasing my spring training game tickets, ordering baseballs for autographs by the dozen; you know… the usual stuff. And then as soon as the calendar year turns, I renew my season tickets – and this is when I really start getting pumped.
You would think that having gone through this so many times that it would become old hat to me, and for the most part it usually is. But this year is different… WAY different. Never before in my lifetime have I been more excited or more anxious for the new season to begin that I am for the 2013 season.
Why is this?
At first I couldn’t put my finger on it but then I sat down one day and started going over everything that has occurred within the Dodgers organization during the past year and it all became very clear to me. In fact, it actually started more than a year ago; it started when the Dodger franchise hit rock bottom during the McCourt divorce and bankruptcy disaster. As painful a time as this was, I knew that it would one day end and that when it did, the new owners would undoubtedly begin the difficult task of rebuilding the franchise and the wounds would slowly begin to heal. But like every other Dodger fan in the world, there is no way that I could have ever predicted what the Guggenheim Baseball Management (GBM) group has done since taking over on May 1, 2012.
As many of my friends will attest, I have been saying for the past two years that 2013 is going to be the year of the Dodgers. My primary reason for having said this is because I knew that there would be new ownership at the helm by then and because the core group of Dodger players would be hitting their prime – primarily Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. I knew that regardless of who the new owner(s) would be, they would undoubtedly build the team around these guys which, of course, is exactly what GBM has done. But here again, no one could have predicted that they would do so to the extent that they have. In reality it almost seems too good to be true, but having seen it all first hand, not only is it true but it has far exceeded even my wildest dreams and expectations.
My excitement and near uncontrollable anticipation is a result of the many significant moves that GBM has made during the past 10 months. Here are a few that have had me counting the days to Opening Day 2013 since that final out of the 2012 World Series:
- The signing of top Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig on June 28, 2012
- The acquisition of Hanley Ramirez at the July 25, 2012
- The acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett on August 25, 2012
- The signing of free agent and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke on December 8, 2012
- The signing of left-handed Korean pitching sensation Hyun-jin Ryu on December 9, 2012
- The signing of veteran free agent left-handed reliever J.P. Howell January 4, 2013
- The signing of veteran free agent right-handed reliever Peter Moylan on January 16, 2013 (albeit to a minor league contract)
- Making more than $100 million in improvements at Dodger Stadium – including new state-of-the-art video boards
- Renewing the contract of of Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully – the best there has ever been
- Renewing the contract of Hall of Fame Spanish broadcaster Jaime Jarrín
- Signing a long-term television rights deal with Time Warner Cable worth between $7-$8 billion dollars
- Bringing back legendary Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax into the Dodger family – where he rightfully belongs
We’ve all heard it many times before (perhaps even more than “I’m in the best shape of my life” heading into spring training) that a World Series title isn’t won on paper and that you still have to play the games, but if Dodger fans aren’t excited about the things that Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and the rest of the GBM group have done, they are either dead or blind.
Oh, in case you were wondering, there are exactly 57 days remaining until Opening Day… and the anticipation is killing me!