A friend’s family has a habit of getting drunk at Jays game and delcaring, “The Dodgers belong in Brooklyn or the bottom of the sea!” My family traditions mostly revolve around rum and cokes and not talking very much at family functions or at all. Naturally, I latched on to a family tradition that was about baseball and possibly the lost city of Atlantis.
But what if the Dodgers did relocate? It doesn’t just take wins to build up a fanbase. It takes players. Even with the trade of Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers aren’t lacking in likeable players with fun boi Enrique Hernandez, 2018 breakout star Max Muncy and California Love-loving Kenley Jansen. The true star of the team is ace Clayton Kershaw who debuted with a 4.26 ERA in 2008 and then lowered his career ERA to 3.36 with a 2.79 ERA in 2009. He continued to lower his career ERA every year after that until he posted a 2.73 ERA in 2018, raising his career ERA year over year for the first time. All of this to say, Clayton Kershaw may be the greatest pitcher of our generation.
Now, where would the Dodgers relocate? New York has plenty of baseball teams but the undersea market is barely served. Can you imagine how much more interesting the movie Das Boot would be if there were a baseball game in there? I know you’re thinking: who would possibly go to these games? The deep sea pressure would be too much for most people. To which I reply: firstly – if old dude James Cameron is physically capable of going down there, the majority of people are probably fine. Secondly, I’m sure parking and traffic are better in the Mariana Trench than in Chavez Ravine. Lastly, please just suspend your disbelief for a little bit. We all got on board with the Star Trek: DS9 baseball episode, isn’t baseball on Earth more realistic?
We should set up some ground rules, literally and metaphorically. Most baseball players and fans can’t breathe underwater so it’d have to be a dome, like the Kingdome but for REAL Mariners. This park would have some great features that would give an even larger home team advantage to the Dodgers and Kershaw specifically. The main thing I thought about would be the effects of altitude on the game. Dodger Stadium is already a fairly pitcher-friendly park at 501 ft above sea level, relocating to 36,070 feet below sea level would make Clayton Kershaw unhittable. Of course, there would be other stadium effects. Natural grass wouldn’t be able to grow and I assume kelp plays a lot slower than grass, visiting teams would have to travel farther and acclimatize to the pressure conditions of the dome and of course the team organist would be replaced by a lobster wailing on some clams which would really rattle any opposing teams.
I’m not a statistician or even someone with a rudimentary understanding of modelling or forecasting baseball but I do know that those park factors are huge enough to make Clayton Kershaw’s season stats probably the greatest of all time. All of this to say, Clayton Kershaw is one of 11 active players who have played their entire (longer than a decade) career with one team and is very firmly the face of the Dodgers. The Phillies’ recent Bryce Harper signing show the way that the value of a player to a team doesn’t purely lie in their on-field metrics but also their marketability. Few things are as marketable than a future HOF player in his decline years starting to put up video game numbers…err… ignoring Barry Bonds.
In a league with rising tensions between players and owners, the Dodgers ignoring economic viability and relocating to the bottom of the sea to allow Clayton Kershaw to spend the rest of career absolutely demolishing hitters is a huge goodwill gesture. Clayton Kershaw has spent nearly half his adult life being an elite athlete generating value for the Dodgers and becoming a franchise legend in the process. The least the Dodgers could do is move to the bottom of the sea, for Clayton.