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What are they doing to Dodgers caps?

An illustration of Clayton Kershaw features multiple styles of Dodgers hats perched atop his head.
Clayton Kershaw with multiple styles of Dodgers hats.
(Illustration by Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 16. I’m Bill Shaikin, the Times’ baseball columnist.

There is no greater communal gathering spot in Los Angeles than Dodger Stadium. Almost 4 million people flock to the ballpark every year. No summer in L.A. is complete without a pilgrimage to the historic ballpark with the postcard views.

The park binds generations too. At Dodger Stadium, you could listen to Vin Scully call the game on the transistor radio strapped to your wrist, then fill up your gas tank for the drive home at the Union 76 station beyond center field.

You could get your Dodger Dog, proudly made by Farmer John — “easternmost in quality, westernmost in flavor” — and then you could get vendor Roger Owens to toss you a bag of peanuts, behind his back.

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Alas, you cannot do any of those things any more. Times change. Old traditions give way to new ones.

Among the traditions that remain: The Dodgers take the field in dark blue caps, with the letters “LA” interlocking and embroidered upon the front. If you wanted to support the home team, you too could buy that cap.

You still can, but here’s what has changed: The Dodgers do not take the field in dark blue caps every day. Like all teams, they wear special caps for special occasions, including light blue for Father’s Day and pink for Mother’s Day.

And you can show your support for the home team by wearing any one of hundreds of Dodgers caps. The website for Lids, a prominent cap retailer, showed 429 Dodgers caps for sale last week.

My tolerance was exhausted recently, when I saw a Dodgers cap for sale called “Orange Popsicle.” No blue. No LA. Not even a correct confectionery reference: the cap resembles a Creamsicle bar, not a popsicle.

I mean, for the low, low price of $45.99, you can show your loyalty to, what, the Great Dodger Pumpkin?

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Is nothing sacred any more?

Once upon a time, you would never dream of wearing a Dodgers cap in the colors of a rival team. Today, you can buy a Dodgers cap in a crayon box full of colors: black or white, red or yellow, green or orange, lavender or gray.

You can find caps that feature multiple colors. You can find caps decorated with an avocado, or a butterfly, or a shark. You can find corduroy caps, or tie-dye caps.

Here is a quote from my story last week: “During the spring and summer, a lot of customers are looking for the brighter colors, the pastels and the brights. When you get to the fall, it’s more the earth tones.”

The speaker is not talking about shirts, or dresses, or even shoes. The speaker is talking about baseball caps.

See, what to me had appeared to be the loss of a great Los Angeles tradition turned out to be a fresh incarnation of a great American one: Give the customers what they want.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California from Ryan Fonseca and Helen Li:

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Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

L.A. stories

Is industrial decline the path to having lower rates of homelessness? Detroit’s homelessness population rates are half of those in Los Angeles — possibly a nod to how the city is rich in cheap housing and abandoned buildings from the industrial age. Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles has a lack of athletic trainers. That could be hurting high school athletes. LAUSD athletic departments say they aren’t receiving enough money to cover trainer salaries. Los Angeles Times

Politics and government

Parents are pivoting from mask mandates to race and gender issues in California schools. These issues are sparking clashes between the Democrats who run the state government and the conservative parents and school boards. Los Angeles Times

Justice and policing

A pattern has been playing out in California and other states: Elect progressive district attorneys who run on criminal justice reform, then attempt to recall them. The latest example: Alameda County D.A. Pamela Price. Politico

An Orange County judge charged with murdering his wife has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege Judge Jeffrey Ferguson shot his wife, Sheryl, in their Anaheim Hills home last week during an argument. Los Angeles Times

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Seeing videos of flash mob robberies? Yves Saint Laurent, Nordstrom and Nike in Glendale, Topanga and Century City malls, respectively, are the latest in these large coordinated thefts. Here’s what you need to know. LAist

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Health and the environment

Recycling is tough. Despite all the rules and PSAs meant to encourage us to redirect some of our waste out of landfills, we really haven’t made much of a dent. Utility team reporter Karen Garcia has some tips on how to change that. Los Angeles Times

We just experienced the hottest month in nearly 175 years of record keeping. But heat waves like July’s aren’t just confined to the land. California’s coastal waters are also warming up, drawing some sea mammals, fish and birds further north. Their visits could be a more familiar sight in the months to come if El Niño keeps temperatures warm. San Francisco Chronicle

California culture

Months after the February shooting, more workers are coming forward about the conditions of mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay and Sunnyside. Current workers say their jobs are at risk of being replaced by contract laborers, their union has not been recognized, and retaliation is still possible. Los Angeles Times

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

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And finally

Today’s California memory is Joshua Tree National Park from our own Helen Li:

Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park during an August sunset.
Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park during an August sunset.
(Helen Li)

Helen writes:

On Friday August 11, my friends and I drove to Joshua Tree National Park in anticipation of the Perseids meteor shower. We drive deeper into the park, closer to Cholla Cactus Gardens to avoid the light pollution from other campers. This was the sunset before. We placed a blanket and lay on the ground for hours around midnight, watching the occasional streak pass us by. I made a lot of wishes for prosperity, health and a job.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.

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