Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dodgers and Yankees don't mix

The Dodgers and Yankees are playing a doubleheader today and the first game pretty much went the way I expected. Plan on the same thing for tonight.

It doesn't matter much to me because I was around for the previous time the Dodgers and Yankees played at Yankee Stadium (although it was the older stadium). In that game, the Dodgers demolished the Yankees 9-2 in the decisive Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and my satisfied smile was all my Yankee fan high school classmates saw the next day.

The Dodgers and Yankees haven't played each other in the World Series since. That is why I will always like the MVPs from that Series, Pedro Guerrero, Steve Yeager and Ron Cey. It doesn't matter to me that Guerrero wound up a Cardinal, Yeager a Mariner and even Cey a Cub. No, the worst thing would be if they wound up a Yankee.

Seeing Dodgers as Yankees or Yankees as Dodgers is very disorienting to me. They are two distinct franchises who are guided by different principles and backgrounds even as people try to brand the Dodgers  "the New Yankees."

I don't like seeing Dodgers in pinstripes. It's distasteful. It really looks like they just placed the player in jail. And vice versa, I'm very uncomfortable seeing Yankees as Dodgers. I feel as if they're only here to steal trade secrets.

So I thought I'd put together my top 10 of Most Disorienting Yankees Who Became Dodgers/Dodgers Who Became Yankees. These are players who either went over to the enemy or came from the enemy. I never knew what to make of them from that point forward.

Because of their actions, I can say that none of these players are my favorites. I don't necessarily dislike them. But when you have the stink of Yankee on you, well, there's only so much love I can give.

I know there are a lot of players who competed for both teams. But I'm restricting it to players from my era (with one notable exception). And if a player played for a lot of teams and the Dodgers and Yankees were just one of many, then you won't see them in the top 10.

So, sorry, Andruw Jones, Robin Ventura, David Wells, Kevin Brown, Kenny Lofton, Dioner Navarro, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Morgan, etc., etc. I don't think of you as Dodger or Yankee.

The honorable mention picks go to Mariano Duncan and John Wetteland.

Time for the All-Time Disorienting Top 10:

10. Raul Mondesi (Dodger, 1993-99; Yankee, 2002-03)

Mondesi is a former favorite player of mine. I don't remember his Yankee years at all, and I certainly wasn't collecting at that time, so I didn't have to live with the horror of him in pinstripes. Because his stay with N.Y. was rather brief and under my radar, it diminishes his status as a favorite only slightly.

9. Joe Torre (Yankee manager, 1996-2007, Dodger manager, 2008-10)

Yes, I'm including managers, too, because we're living in weird times in which people can even manage for both teams. I never truly felt like Torre was comfortable managing the Dodgers, and the feeling is mutual as I was never comfortable with him. I hear he couldn't understand the so-called laid back nature of the Dodgers team. Funny, Lasorda had no problem.

8. Steve Howe (Dodger, 1980-83, 85; Yankees, 1991-96)

Howe experienced his big resurgence with the Yankees, but we Dodger fans never forgave the havoc he caused in L.A. with his drug habit (which ultimately cost him). Still, seeing Howe celebrate the last out of the '81 World Series in an L.A. uniform is always with me. As an N.L. Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers, he was one of our great hopes and it was sad to see him in New York.

7. Hiroki Kuroda (Dodger, 2008-11; Yankee, 2012-present)

I honestly don't understand what's going on with Kuroda. He seemed like he was entering the downside of his career when he left the Dodgers. He's not pitching any better than he did in L.A., just basically pitching for a better team and remaining his consistent self. But I expected him to be out of juice by now, and it's annoying, especially when L.A. doesn't have a No. 4/5 starter now.

6. Russell Martin (Dodger, 2006-10; Yankee, 2011-12)

The longer Martin leaves his Yankee years behind, the less chance there is of him remaining on this list. But he fell a long way in terms of my favorite players when he left for N.Y. I still don't root for him, even though I like the Pirates.

5. Don Mattingly (Yankee, 1982-95; Dodger manager, 2011-present)

I've got nothing against Mattingly. He didn't even bother me much when he played for the Yankees. But to hear Yankees fans talk about how they wished Mattingly was managing the Yankees WHILE he's managing the Dodgers, is irritating. I'm trying really hard to see Mattingly as a Dodger, even after 3 years with the team, and that kind of talk ain't helping.

4. Babe Ruth (Yankee, 1920-34; Dodger coach, 1938)

I know he was only a coach for one year and it happened way before my time, but just look at that uniform on him! It is very, very strange even for someone born decades after this happened.

Incidentally, today is the anniversary of Ruth's first day on the job with the Dodgers. Word is Ruth was hoping to get the Dodger manager job in 1939. But back then you could say, "Like hell, you were a Yankee!" and give the job to Leo Durocher.

3. Steve Sax (Dodger, 1981-88; Yankee, 1989-91)

It's a good thing that the Dodgers granted Sax free agency in late 1988 when I had other things on my mind, because if this happened five years earlier when I was rabid for anything baseball, I'm sure I would have hitched a ride to Los Angeles and given the front office a large portion of my mind.

Sax was considered the next big thing for Dodgers fans, following Fernando Valenzuela and Pedro Guerrero. He was easy to like and considered a key part of the mid-1980s Dodger playoff teams. Some people who grew up during the junk wax era are probably accustomed to seeing lots of cards of Sax as a Yankee and I expect them to say something like "I always think of Sax as a Yankee." Great, you're so cute. Let me introduce you to something called history. Sax is a Dodger.

And to those of you who only think of Sax as an Arizona Diamondback coach, I have one thing to say to you: "why do you root for that team and hate baseball?"

2. Willie Randolph (Yankee, 1976-88; Dodger, 1989-90)

When I first started watching baseball on TV, the Dodgers were Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey-Yeager-Baker-Monday-Smith. The Yankees were Chambliss-Randolph-Dent-Nettles-Munson-Piniella-Rivers-Jackson. My allegiances were solidified by the 1977 and 1978 World Series. The thought THEN of any of those Yankees names playing for the Dodgers would have split my brain in two. I might have stopped watching baseball altogether. I'd be talking about the Jets or something now.

Randolph as a Dodger? Wow.

1. Tommy John (Dodger, 1972-78; Yankee, 1979-82, 1986-89)

Staying with the same time period as Randolph, Tommy John was the first player that I was aware of who actually dared to go from the Dodgers to the Yankees. And he did it willingly. As a free agent. I remember distinctly thinking that John was deserting the team that gave him a chance after everyone thought his career was over after blowing out his elbow in 1974.

I wished nothing but bad things on the baseball field for John from that point. He didn't encounter many bad things as he won 20 games his first two years with the Yankees and played 10 more years. But as I've pointed out before, I took great satisfaction in the fact that John never won a World Series as a Yankee.

However, the team that he left did win a World Series, when he was a Yankee.

In 1981. When the Dodgers beat John and the Yankees in Yankee Stadium.

So again, these two games today? Just some meaningless interleague gimmickry.

Dodgers and Yankees don't mix. Unless it's the World Series.

And we know who won the last time.


  1. Funny you talk about the Dodgers and the Yanks - here is an interesting and short article about how they are linked together forever:

  2. The Yankee fans can gladly have Donnie back and in trade I ask for a one year ban of New Yorkers transplanting to LA.

  3. Never knew about Mondesi. That's weird. I still think its weird that Piazza was ever a Padre, and seeing SD and LA mix players has never sat well with me. Steve Finley as a Dodger still bums me out, but I guess I never got over him signing with the Diamondbacks.

  4. The Yankees and Dodgers should only play each other in the World Series or in special exhibition games.

  5. I guess it is true what they say: Sour grapes do make the best whine.

    Ba dum tish! Thank you! I am here all week! Be sure to tip your server!

  6. Sour? Sure.

    But not sour grapes. I enjoyed Game 2 quite a bit. And I'm still enjoying 1981.

  7. Interesting perspective on John - I guess it's based on the world series thing. He lost twice to the Yanks as a Dodger and lost once to the Dodgers as a Yank. That's pretty unique.

    However - I think he also falls into the "played for many other teams" category. I don't know if I think of him with one team - I think of him as a guy of many teams! Which team did he pitch the most innings for? Hint - not the Dodgers or Yankees :)

    Anyways, I would put Mattingly #1, and Randolph #2. Guys I so completely associate with the bronx team. It is weird to see Mattingly as the Dodger skipper!

  8. How could Wells be anyone's favourite in any uniform? And ya, I dislike him!

  9. Raul Mondesi was awful. He was a complete joke in NY. Couldn't ship him out fast enough.

  10. Great post. I should write one title Athletics & Yankees don't mix... since NY usually uses my favorite team as their farm system.

  11. Kuroda's the one that's killing me, especially since I'm not in NYC anymore. He's a guy I would have loved to see cement his (US) legacy with the Dodgers.

  12. Great post. I felt the exact same way about Tommy John leaving the Dodgers. My kid brain just couldn't understand how he could change allegiances to the enemy so seamlessly. John's name was spoken with venom in our house that first summer.