Friday, March 07, 2008

Dodgers To Say Farewell To Vero Beach Soon

The Dodgers are leaving Vero Beach -- not that you care.

I'm not saying that you should, but maybe it would be nice if you did a little bit.

I'm biased here. I've been a fan of the Blue since the early-1970s, when I bought one of their team yearbooks at Tiger Stadium. I thought it was so cool that you could buy another team's yearbook at the old ballpark. So I bought the next few in succession, making sure that at least one trip to Tiger Stadium ended with me taking a Dodgers yearbook home with me.

Their yearbooks kind of sucked, though -- if you want to know the truth. The Tigers always put out first-class ones, and you'd think a team with the tradition the Dodgers have would be able to follow suit. But where the Tigers' yearbooks were on heavier stock and full of color photos, the Dodgers' version was more like a program -- thin paper and mostly black-and-white pics. There really was no comparison. But I bought them anyway, because I had adopted the Dodgers as my second-favorite team.

Dodgers fans watch their team at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach

It's not all that popular to be a Dodgers fan. I found out through the years that the team is hardly beloved. In fact, many folks flat out hate the Dodgers, though I'm not sure why. They haven't even won a playoff series since 1988, when they won the whole thing under Kirk Gibson's leadership. Ahh, there it is. You think the fans around Detroit are still smarting over Gibby leaving for LA as a free agent?

Anyhow, the Dodgers, after this spring, are ending their 50+ year relationship with Vero Beach as their spring training site. Next year they'll train in Arizona. They're not just relocating within Florida -- they're leaving the state entirely.

Dodgertown in Vero Beach is hallowed for many people. The players are revered down there like royalty. It's like Lakeland with the Tigers, but even more so. Dodgertown is like Little Los Angeles, in terms of how faithful the folks are to their Blue. And I've never been there, but then again, I've never been to London, yet I know that it rains there a lot. It's amazing what you can learn if you read.

I'm sure there are many heartbroken fans in Vero Beach, watching this camp with a much different eye, knowing it's the last one. I doubt too many of them will follow the team to Arizona in 2009.

The Dodgers say they made to move because of costs and wanting the team to train closer to California. Not sure why all of a sudden those are issues after all these decades, but there you have it. Certainly the willingness of their new spring home to build a new facility played into it.

The Tigers won't play the Dodgers anymore in spring training after this season, another casualty of the Blue moving westward. The Dodgers tend to do that, you know -- move westward.


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