The Los Angeles Dodgers have added Cy Young winner Zack Greinke to their all-powerful lineup of players in an effort to surpass the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, take the NL Championship and waltz into the World Series where they will win for the first time since1988.
Or, at least, that is the plan behind the enormous amount of money being spent on this new team.
But, will the Dodger fans get behind this store-bought team?
This is a fandom built on tradition and—like every other sports team—winning.
The Dodgers have had the former since their inception, it seems. But, their unimpressive record over the past 20-plus years has diminished the franchise and that wonderful tradition.
The Dodger management is literally banking on the new and improved and very, very rich lineup to usher in an era of domination.
When asked at the Greinke press conference about the vast expenditures the team was making, co-owner Magic Johnson simply said, "We want to win." Oh, shades of Al Davis. Although it is doubtful the penurious Oakland Raiders owner would have ever paid $145 million for one player.
So here the Dodgers stand with a lineup and a pitching roster whose salaries would choke the proverbial horse. Can money buy success? And, more importantly, can it put fans in the seats?
You have to remember that the modern era Los Angeles Dodgers were built on one of the best minor league systems in baseball.
That glorious infield of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey were all players who came up through the ranks. They were homegrown not store-bought, and they bled Dodger Blue like no other group of players before or since.
When they finished their nine-year run together, they had played in four World Series and won one, beating the vaunted New York Yankees and establishing a tradition that was not just built on winning but on a passionate and genuine love for their ball team.
Right now Dodger fans can point to Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw as true Dodgers who have been with the team through thick and thin and look to be there for sometime to come.
It is in this new world of seeking out free agents and signing them to lucrative, long-term deals that a team hopes will not only buy their talent but their love on which the Dodgers have remade their team.
They have spent millions to acquire big name players including Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford and hope that these players will reestablish the team as a winning enterprise.
Meanwhile, up north, the Giants have built a winning tradition on throwaways and wannabes like Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence. They lost their closer so they closed by committee. They lost their best hitter to steroids and somehow performed at an even better rate. Their all-star catcher broke his leg only to come back better and stronger as the league MVP. They hit the least amount of home runs in the Majors and yet still won the World Series.
Which one is the better tradition? Which team will garner the most fan loyalty? Who would you rather root for?
The expectations for the Dodgers are going to be through the roof. With the kind of personnel the Dodgers have added, fans will only be satisfied with being No. 1. Yet, you just have to look across town to the Lakers to see what paycheck purchases of superstars can do or—in this case—not do for a team.
Will the Dodger paychecks translate into team chemistry? Will these mercenaries truly buy into the great Dodger tradition? Will Dodger fans buy into them?
Ultimately, the most important thing, as Magic and Mr. Davis know from personal experience is that the only tradition worth anything is winning.
If the new store-bought Dodgers don't win, they will most assuredly be playing to a lot of empty seats.
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