The 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers are the American Dream. They are modernity in blue hats. When John Dos Passos wrote that “U.S.A. is the speech of the people,” he was actually talking about the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers.
One way to prove the American-ness of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers would be to talk about all the crazy places the personnel come from. For example, Yasiel Puig is from Cuba! Hyun-Jin Ryu is from Korea! Don Mattingly is from Indiana! Brian Wilson is from television! And that would be a pretty good start: geographical and cultural diversity is a thing we think of as American, at least some of us, at least to the extent that we are capable of feeling that way.
Another way to prove the American-ness of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers would be to discuss their comeback story. In June, they were 12 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. In September, they clinched the National League West and swam in the pool at Chase Field. What’s more American than a comeback? Didn’t George Washington himself swim across the Delaware River in winter with a knife between his teeth to single-handedly change the course of the Revolutionary War and secure the peaceful democratic world we live in today?
Actually, the Dodgers are the American Dream because their present wondrousness is amoral, the ballclub having emerged from an uncomfortable history that dates back to Walter O’Malley’s betrayal of Brooklyn for the glimmering west; having traded a third-rate huckster of an owner for a modern robber baron, then having been dipped so many times in the golden vat of television riches that they shine across the plains, rivers, and mountains of America like a lusty wish forever on the verge of fulfillment. Unlike the Red Sox or Yankees or even the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Dodgers hold no pretensions. They are what they are: which is talented, rich, exciting, diverse, unburdened by any rule, written or unwritten.
To resent the Dodgers -- a team whose offense is led by skilled and charismatic immigrants and whose pitching staff is led by goofy dudes from Dallas and Orlando -- is to resent America itself, or at least the “Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich” of Walt Whitman’s America. When Sen. John McCain tweets “No-class act by a bunch of overpaid, immature, arrogant, spoiled brats! "The #Dodgers are idiots" he is surely forgetting about the time he served in the U.S. Senate for the last 26 years. Or else his time in office has left him so rusted and hollow that is capable only of acknowledging, stilted, formal lying as valid communication. Then again, McCain himself has been known to make declarative statements about the greatness of America and to support invasions far more arrogant than that of a ballpark swimming pool.
He is also kind of right: they are arrogant. That is part of their charm. We are an arrogant nation. The Dodgers are the fucked up shamelessness of late capitalism -- gaudy new money aspirations wrapped up in old money pretensions, stadiums, uniforms. Animal urges and perfectly manicured infields, green grass, white lines. The towering grace of a Hanley Ramirez home run and the pathetic inevitability of a Hanley Ramirez throwing error. They are the endless promise of Los Angeles, of America, and the underlying knowledge that it it can never be kept.