Bluetopia: The L.A. Dodgers Movie (2009).
Fandom for a sports team is a hard thing to explain to the uninitiated. There certainly isn’t anything logical or rational about it, but it’s something that becomes ingrained at an early age and is a passion that runs deeper than anything. It isn’t about going to games for a fun getaway or to be “seen.” It’s about being there, win or lose (especially when they’re losing), through sun or rain. It’s an unbridled love for anyone wearing your uniform.
“Bluetopia” is the story of the 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers season, but this isn’t your typical documentary. It’s an all-access look, not only with the players in the clubhouse and their off-field lives, but also with the stadium operations and what happens behind the scenes. But even better than that are the interviews with the lifelong fans, talking about their love for the team. This is, at heart, as story about fandom, and offers a snapshot of the state of Dodgers Nation.
Besides the usual suspects like the players, general manager Ned Colletti and owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, there are also interviews with the likes of clubhouse manager Mitch Poole, Roger “The Peanut Man” Owens, Joe Beimel’s parents and, of course, Vin Scully. But there are also visits with the owner of a Dodger-themed tattoo shop, former gang members working with Homeboy Industries, three little old ladies who love Russell Martin, and doctors and cancer patients at the City of Hope.
But the pivotal moment, of course, is the arrival of Manny Ramirez, and we get to see his first entrance in the clubhouse, the media crush and the reaction of his new teammates (including Andruw Jones sulking in the background).
What’s most memorable about the film, though, are the small moments. The guy who wants to get all of Dodger Stadium and the L.A. skyline tattooed on his back. The joy on the face of Clayton Kershaw’s mother while watching his Major League debut. The rookie hazing costumes. The teenager who catches a batting practice home run and manages to parlay it into an autograph from Chan Ho Park.
Don’t expect any objectivity with this documentary. It’s a celebration of the Dodger experience, and the portions with the team personnel definitely have the feel of PR spin. But what makes “Bluetopia” are the moments with the fans. They come from all walks of life and don’t have much in common but their love for the Blue. But that’s all it takes. That’s what true fandom is all about.
The excitement of Mateo, the little boy who was attending his first game.
A game at Dodger Stadium, of course, from the field or loge level with a little radio to hear Vin Scully’s call.
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