I hate the Dodgers. Yeah, you've heard that before from me, if you read these posts...well, I hate the Dodgers, I teach my kids to hate the Dodgers, my dad taught me to hate the Dodgers.
I suppose people disagree about this stuff. I tend to think that some good, honest hatred is healthy, but the trick is to make sure you use it properly. So I don't hate Dodgers fans (I've had the occasional Dodgers fan friend, no problem), and I don't exactly hate the Dodgers as people...well, when they're on the team, and playing, I hate them, but it's not as if I would spit at them if I met them on the street, or anything like that. I didn't have to live through what my dad lived through, the Durocher thing, but it wasn't as if I had a lot of problems adjusting to liking Jeff Leonard. Anyway, better to hate the Dodgers than to hate the opposing political party. Hatred is a pretty bad thing in politics, but it's excellent in spectator sports.
Well. The first Dodgers that I hated was the ones between the Koufax Dodgers and the Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey Dodgers. Wes Parker, Claude Osteen, Jim Lefebvre, Al Downing. And Willie Davis, who died this week, just shy of his 70th birthday. I definitely did not like Willie Davis. First of all, he (and Willie Crawford) shouldn't have been allowed to use that name. C'mon, that was our guys name. Second, Vin Scully used to love talking about him, or at least that's what my memory tells me. The Dodgers had a (radio, of course) affiliate in Phoenix then, so we had Vin Scully on the air every night, along with Farmer John meats, and Olympia beer, and Chevy cars (I still think it's weird when baseball teams don't have a luncheon meat sponsor -- do the Orioles still have Esskay? If so, what's the point, without Jon Miller?). Here's what I remember: my dad, beside himself, because one inning Vin Scully had excused Willie Davis for not getting to a ball in the outfield on account of some injury, and then the next inning Davis hit a triple, full-out speed. It's not a fair memory -- Scully isn't really a homer, as announcers go, but that's what I remember.
I'll look at the numbers a little. Willie Davis really was an excellent, and probably underrated, player. Handled CF, had >2500 lifetime hits, lifetime 106 OPS+ in 2400 games, almost all in CF. I have no idea how good a fielder he was, but he was good enough to play CF through age 36. He played for the Dodgers through 1973, and then bounced a round a lot, four expansion teams in the next three years, then two years in Japan, and then back for a swan song with the 1979 Angels -- that's the Don Baylor team that made the playoffs.
And with that, I'm stuck. Don't want to end this all sappy, but don't want to end abruptly, either. I'll just say that I appreciate Willie Davis for helping me learn the great joys of rivalry, something that I've really taken an inordinate amount of fun from all my life.
Ah, wait -- here we go -- got something. Willie Davis died, but it's Jimmy Wynn's birthday today. Bill James's favorite non-Royals player, as far as I know. Well, happy birthday, Toy Cannon. I hated you, too, but only for two years.