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The engine of professional sports is revving in Los Angeles once again.

On the latest episode of L.A. Weekly’s Riding The Bench Podcast, L.A. Weekly writers Evan Lancaster and Isai Rocha react to the return of sports during a pandemic. While Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee started vlogging inside the NBA bubble, Dodgers debuted cardboard cutouts of fans inside the stadium. Check out the full episode here.

As the Los Angeles Dodgers prepare for a World Series title in 2020, the team will do so without the help of its beloved hometown crowd. Well, almost. Thanks to new Dodgers fan cutouts — and piped in crowd noise — Dodger Stadium doesn’t look or sound that empty.

While the life-sized, cardboard cutouts of smiling fans and notable Dodger insiders like Tommy Lasorda and Orel Hershiser might take some getting used to, the stands behind home plate, and elsewhere around Dodgers Stadium looked somewhat normal — considering society is in the middle of a global pandemic.

Thanks to the Dodger’s Foundation, Dodger’s fans now have a chance to see themselves on the field. While COVID-19 will keep fans out of the stands at professional sporting events for the time being, the Dodgers gave their fans the opportunity to grab a seat in the Dugout Club, the new Home Run Pavilion, along with the Field Level or Loge Level. Once purchased, the Dodgers fan cutouts will be placed at the stadium for the entire season, and will be given to the purchaser after the season.

Seats range from $149 – $299 and are tax deductible. However, most importantly, the proceeds go to a good cause.

“Net proceeds from the fan cutouts will benefit the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, as they tackle the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness, and social justice for all Angelenos,” according to the Dodger’s Fan Cutout ticketing site.

One thing is for certain, despite the long road it has taken to get to this point, the MLB regular season is finally set to begin on July 23.

While fans have been anxiously waiting the return of sports to Los Angeles, the City of Angels got some exciting news about its newest baseball superstar, outfielder Mookie Betts.

On Wednesday July 22, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Betts agreed to a 12-year, $365 million deal. The deal is the largest in Dodgers’ franchise history. The contract extensions, which will last until 2032, is also the largest extension in history, surpassing Mike Trout’s $360 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Dodgers presented a photo of their newest long-term family member in an Instagram post with a simple, one-word caption eloquently summarizing the Dodgers’ turbulent ride in the path to claiming Betts for the foreseeable future.

“Home.”

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Home.

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In a press conference after the announcement, Betts, 27, said he’s been looking forward to spending the rest of his professional career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“It’s obviously a special day, it’s kinda what I’ve been working for — for my whole life. My family has been a part of this, my parents have been part of this, everybody’s been a part of this whole thing,” Betts said during a press conference on Spectrum Sportsnet. “This is the day we’ve been dreaming about and for it to core true is definitely a blessing. Super happy to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career.”

In 2019, while playing with the Boston Red Sox, Betts batted .295, with 29 home runs. In 2018, Betts won the American League MVP award, and Boston beat the Dodgers in a 5-game World Series.

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