By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
The strains of the classic “ El Mariachi Loco” had barely faded from the booming speaker system at Dodger Stadium when Adrian Gonzalez officially announced his arrival in Los Angeles with a three-run home run to right field in his first at-bat with his new team.
For Dodgers fans, the moment could hardly have been better. For Dodgers fans of Mexican descent, well, it was perfect.
Gonzalez, long a nemesis of the Dodgers during his time with his hometown team, the San Diego Padres, arrived in a huge trade late last week that brought he and three Boston Red Sox teammates out west.
It was a sign of surrender in Boston, which resigned itself to building for another year by acquiring some promising Dodgers prospects. On the West Coast, however, the arrival of Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto sent a bold message to the rest of the baseball world that the Dodgers are pushing for the playoffs and hopefully more in 2012.
The trade will put pressure on the NL West leaders, the San Francisco Giants. It serves notice to wild-card hopefuls that the Dodgers intend to crash that party. And it proved beyond doubt that the new Dodgers owners will spend like crazy to field a winning club.
Some fans don’t care for the big-spending approach that is a staple of the New York Yankees. But cash is king in baseball, and if you have it, you can buy a winner. The Dodgers hope they have done that, having picked up the contracts of Gonzalez, Beckett, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino to go along with the big money spent to keep Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
Think of what Gonzalez can do in the Mexican and Mexican American community in L.A. The Dodgers don’t really have a problem attracting those fans to games, but now they clearly represent the demographics of their town with three players of Mexican descent on the roster – Gonzalez, pitcher Javy Guerra (when he’s active) and 2012 success story Luis Cruz.
It might be time to cue up L.A. rapper Kid Frost’s 1990 hit, “This is for La Raza.” Almost feels like it is, que no?
Will the Dodgers click, with so many new faces on the team, and overtake the Giants? Will the pitching be good enough to support what should be a dangerous offense down the stretch of the season? Maybe. It would be a surprise if the Dodgers didn’t get to at least the one-game playoff at the end of the season.
Lots can happen over the final month or so of the regular season. The Dodgers, only a few days removed from being swept in a series at home by the Giants, have at least made it worth watching for their fans.
But with all that money sunk into some high-priced veterans, it’s win and win now in Hollywood. Or face plenty of criticism for being so free spending with no results.
Enjoy the Mexican music. There will be more of it echoing through Chavez Ravine.