Hey, LA: How about a Freeway Series?
Dodgers, Angels could be poised for title showdown
For five decades, they have sat on opposite ends of a see-saw. When the Dodgers have been up, the Angels have been down. And vice versa.The Los Angeles area's two baseball franchises have also lived at opposite ends of the cultural and fiscal spectrum. Although the Dodgers came out of Brooklyn only three years before the Angels came in through expansion, the National Leaguers were always the establishment, and the other guys were the interlopers. The turnstiles, the media, the television ratings all reflected the Dodgers' geographic and cultural upper hand. Put it this way: They never had to consider changing their brand to the Orange County Dodgers of Los Angeles.
The Angels cowered under a complex. When he was their general manager, Buzzie Bavasi was fond of pointing out that their main foes weren't the Royals or the A's, but the Dodgers, even though that was years before Interleague Play.Even when it was no contest at the box office, both teams at least had their heydays on the field. But, as mentioned above, not at the same time. In their first 39 common seasons, until 2000, when Mike Scioscia took over as Angels manager and helped transform them into perennial threats, the Angels and the Dodgers both reached the modest plateau of having winning records in the same season only eight times. In 2004, they finally tasted significant mutual success, both making the playoffs. They are still apologizing for that one: While the Angels were swept away by Boston and the Dodgers managed one win against the Cardinals, they combined to lose six of seven Division Series games and were outscored 47-24. Now six Angels remaining from the '04 outfit can personally make amends by making sure to get it right this time. Alas, the Dodgers have no such agents of atonement; their only holdover is Brad Penny, the injured pitcher who will be on the sidelines this October. Still, without apologies to Chicago and its lingering fantasy of a Red Line Series, Los Angeles awaits the long-overdue Freeway Series, hopefully and confidently.
How can they mess it up again? Wouldn't a Freeway Series be the perfect way to sign off on the Dodgers' year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of their arrival from Brooklyn?Besides, wasn't this the ultimate objective in constructing the Santa Ana Freeway, the I-5, the "freeway" in Freeway Series? Construction of the major artery linking downtown Los Angeles with the heart of Orange County began in 1947 and was completed in 1956, two years before the Dodgers' arrival. Or, maybe not: World Series game times are geared toward prime time on the East Coast and set for 5:30 p.m. PT, coinciding with Southern California rush hour, certainly bad enough on its own. Lest people leave on Tuesday afternoon for Wednesday night's game, that could be a problem, so local folks may have to start thinking instead in terms of a Metrolink Series, or even an Amtrak Series. Amtrak Series sounds good. There actually is a train station smack in the middle of Angel Stadium's parking lot. And Los Angeles' downtown Union Station is a free five-minute shuttle bus ride from Dodger Stadium.
|Ramirez and Guerrero could both wind up in the Baseball Hall of Fame ... but if they want to have a shot at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, they'd better satisfy the Southland's hunger for a Freeway Series.|
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.