I’m a native Angeleno who’s lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was happy when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year, but I’ll never outgrow my childhood enthusiasm for the Los Angeles Dodgers. So it was with considerable interest that I learned that, back in August, the Dodgers had filed for trademark protection of “Los Doyers.”
“Los Doyers” is how the team’s name is pronounced by many native speakers of Spanish; the pronunciation may have originated with former Dodgers outfielder and current coach Manny Mota, a native of the Dominican Republic. According to L.A. Daily News sportswriter Tom Hoffarth, sportscaster Petros Papadakis began using the nickname on the air some years ago. Not surprisingly, local entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to cash in, and “Los Doyers” T-shirts and other paraphernalia, some of it using a close approximation of the team’s official typeface, began appearing in street vendors’ stalls and even in malls.
Non-official “Los Doyers” T-shirt from here.
Then, toward the end of the 2010 season, L.A. resident Roberto Baly, who blogs at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy*, noticed “Los Doyers” T-shirts for sale for $30 a pop at Dodger Stadium, which could only mean that they were now team-approved. Baly did some sleuthing and discovered that the team had filed in August 2010 for trademark protection of “Los Doyers” in class 25 (clothing) and class 41 (entertainment services, including fan clubs and fantasy leagues).
At least one blogger, Dos Borreguitas, deemed the move a win: It was, he wrote, “a total nod to the huge Spanish-speaking population in LA, and a score for the Spanglish language.”
Others harrumphed. “Many Latinos feel that they are having part of their culture exploited,” wrote SportsBiz.
Truth to tell, it’s not only Spanish-speaking fans who’ve felt exploited by the Dodgers in recent years. The problem, say many, goes back to 2004, when Frank McCourt, a Boston real estate developer (not, I hasten to add, the late Irish writer), paid Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Entertainment Group $430 million for a controlling interest in the Dodgers. McCourt became chairman of the Dodgers and of Dodger Stadium; his wife Jamie has served variously as vice chairman, CEO, and president of the organization. To cover the cost of buying the team, McCourt has raised ticket and concession prices every year, and in 2007 he raised the cost of parking from $10 to $15 to pay for a new parking plan—which turned out to be a disaster.
Then the story turned into a soap opera. After the Dodgers were eliminated from the 2009 playoffs, Jamie McCourt was fired as CEO. She filed for divorce shortly thereafter. Frank McCourt accused her of having an affair with her bodyguard and changed the locks on her office. The divorce is still unresolved; in December 2010 a judge invalidated a post-nuptial marital property agreement that Frank McCourt claimed gave him sole ownership of the Dodgers. Jamie McCourt’s lawyers want her to retain co-ownership.
The “Los Doyers” gambit, said some local journalists and bloggers, added insult to injury. Even though the McCourt divorce trial was in recess, wrote USA Today, “that hasn’t stopped the Dodgers from finding new ways to annoy their fans.”
Meanwhile, up here in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Giants, in a nod to their many Hispanic fans, occasionally take the field wearing “Gigantes” uniforms. (That’s “Giants” in Spanish.) The custom dates back to 2005, when the team dedicated a statue to Juan Marichal, the great Spanish-speaking Dominican pitcher who played for the Giants from 1960 to 1973. If you search, you can find Gigantes fanwear, too.
As far as I can tell, the Giants have never sought trademark protection for “Los Gigantes.” Oversight—or a kinder, gentler way of playing ball? You be the judge.
Photo source: This Is Not Your Practice Blog.
*Vin Scully has been the Dodgers’ radio announcer since 1950, when the team still played in Brooklyn.