The Dodgers' resurgence on the field has been accompanied by one in the stands, raising anew the question of whether the team finally can record a season attendance of 4 million.
The Dodgers have sold out nine of their last 12 home games, including Saturday's 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Dodgers are on pace to lead the major leagues in attendance this season, for the first time in four years, with a projected 3.7 million.
The Dodgers were the first team to hit the 3-million mark, in 1978. The teams to hit 4 million: the Toronto Blue Jays from 1991 to 1993, the Colorado Rockies in 1993, the New York Yankees from 2005 to 2008 and the New York Mets in 2008.
In 2004, when Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers, his ex-wife Jamie, then the Dodgers' vice chairman, told The Times, "They should have been drawing 4 million fans, not 3 million fans."
Her reasonable argument behind that goal, that Los Angeles had grown and the Dodgers' fan base should have too, was lost amid a war of words with previous management. Under the McCourts, the Dodgers set a record of 3.86 million in 2007, although they failed to hit 4 million.
"I was warned when I came here that just talking about it was radioactive, because of the history with the number," Dodgers President Stan Kasten said Saturday.
The Dodgers still boast the largest stadium in the major leagues, although they reduced capacity from the original 56,000 as part of last off-season's renovations. Kasten won't say how many seats remain, but the Dodgers announced their largest crowd this season at 53,275.
Kasten acknowledged the decreased capacity would hamper the Dodgers' chance to sell 4-million tickets. Assuming 53,275 as a maximum, the Dodgers would have to sell 93% of their seats, an average of 49,382, to hit 4 million. The Dodgers' average this season: 45,294.
The San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox have sold at least 93% of their tickets this season. Kasten declined to say whether he believed the Dodgers might be able to do that in their larger ballpark, and to hit the 4-million mark.
"I don't know," Kasten said. "I do know that we are thrilled to be where we are, and we are thrilled with the reception the fans have given us."
Party in L.A.
The Dodgers routinely blast the Miley Cyrus song "We Can't Stop" in the clubhouse, something of a soundtrack to their 19-3 roll since the All-Star break, but infielder Nick Punto exercised questionable musical judgment by adopting the song as his new walk-up music Friday.
"I've already gotten tons of grief," Punto said Saturday.
From his teammates, he meant. But the Dodgers are 2-0 since then, including a record-tying comeback victory Friday.
Punto tweeted Cyrus: "hey girl you need to come out and watch the boys in blue so you can hear 'we can't stop' when I come up to the plate." He said he had not heard back.
The Dodgers' comeback went so late Friday that the public-address announcer informed fans the scheduled fireworks show had been canceled because of a city curfew. There is no formal curfew, a team executive clarified Saturday, but the Dodgers have an informal agreement with neighborhood groups to use discretion in starting a fireworks show at a late hour.
The Dodgers halted the fireworks Friday when they determined the show would not start until about 11:30 p.m.