Bill Shaikin’s latest McCourt article, a must-read…
I wonder how many more articles Bill Shaikin and others will have to write before the LA fans wisen up and storm the castle? I listen to XM’s baseball coverage almost every day and lately it’s been downright brutal for Dodger fans. ESPN is the same. Of course, neither covers the Dodgers much nowadays since the Dodgers are a mid-market team in the cellar. Is this acceptable for Dodger fans? Acceptable for a club that was in the NLCS the past two years? A payroll lower than the Twins, lower than the Brewers, lower than the Rockies, lower than the Giants, and from this latest article, a team not even spending on the future?
I was driving around today and listening to Hiroki Kuroda’s latest great effort. It was also the anniversary today of Hideo Nomo’s debut. I was thinking how we’ve had a pretty nice track record with Japanese signings, and how that was always a way we were able to augment the team’s talent without overpaying in traditional free-agent fashion. Nomo, Kaz Ishii, Takashi Saito and Kuroda – all had their moments in blue, some more than others. I was thinking, “Why don’t we sign more Japanese pitchers, considering how an organization that’s always prided itself on pitching depth, suddenly has none?” Hell, it doesn’t need to be a Japanese pitcher, the arm could come from anyplace, but Japan, due to its talent level, seems obvious.
Then I heard about Shaikin’s article on post-game Dodger Talk. A caller phoned in and pointed out all the obvious Frank McCourt crimes, and the two company men, Kevin Levine and Josh Suchon, not wanting to be unemployed in such a job market, made excuses, trying to convince the caller Shaikin’s article isn’t exactly right. They even tried to make sense of team President/COO Dennis Mannion’s comments three months ago or more, when he said very plainly the Dodgers focus is on concessions and increased ticket prices. The two hosts alluded to the idea the Dodgers were somehow playing possum, waiting to spend money they have stashed in the sofa cushions to right this year’s team. Sure.
If the Dodgers went into the season without a #5 starter, and without any depth whatsoever in reserve should anything happen to Kershaw, Kuroda and Billingsley, why would they have a slush fund for mid-season acquisitions? I think the only way any payroll increasing will occur is if the fans attempt to run McCourt and Mannion out of town, and even then it’s hardly a guarantee.
This season is a month old, and while the Dodgers have won the past few against the pathetic Pirates, and are showing signs of offensive capabilities again, it’s readily apparent to anyone who’s followed this thing that there are severe problems in Dodgerland. McCourt is raking it in once more, as I had the privilege of going to a game on Jackie Robinson night (a friend treated, even the food – I just had to get parking, so McCourt got $15 or so out of me). Frank Robinson, Don Newcombe, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Tommy Lasorda sat on the field before the game as Jackie was honored. McCourt showed up in a very expensive grey suit, pink shirt and trendy sunglasses on. It was 7pm and there was no sun in his eyes. No one else wore sunglasses, Frank just wanted to look cool. “Why,” I asked, “is McCourt even on the field?” He didn’t know Jackie, and as a Boston Red Sox fan, the last team to integrate black ballplayers, how could he possibly care?
Frank didn’t. It was a P.R. moment for him, and within the first two innings, Frank left his seat and never returned. The Dodgers fought back in the 9th, and won the game in the 10th due to Andre Ethier’s heroics, but the Dodgers owner was not around to see it. Frank, they’re on to you, baby. You’re being figured out. I hope you’re sweating a bit, and I hope more people call into Dodger Talk after the games, and more journalists write letters about what you’re doing.
This is a team that had the pieces in places to win it all – and for years to come. A strong veteran presence, some of the top kids in baseball, and a farm that could keep producing for years on end. You shut off the taps. No starting pitching, no money for draft picks, no money for international signings. This is a crime of epic proportion, and whether you’re forced to sell by Bud Selig, who allowed you against good judgement to “buy” the team in the first place, it doesn’t matter. The damage has been done. This era, which could have been as good, if not better than the talent-laden World Series clubs of the 1970s, with all the homegrown talent and terrific acquired players, is running on fumes now.
Today in San Diego, Jon Garland and Randy Wolf met up as the Padres and Brewers locked horns. Garland, a Valley boy who played with us last year tossed 7 shutout innings and picked up his 3rd win. It was the 4th straight game Garland has given up 1 or fewer runs and his ERA is now 2.06. Wolf, another Valley boy, has 2 wins. While I think we needed an ace the past two seasons to get us over the hump, it’s obvious even if we had just stood pat with the guys pitching in San Diego today, we would be a much better team than we are without them. Instead, we have NO depth, and are forced to pitch Charlie Haeger, Ramon Ortiz, John Ely, and Carlos Monasterios. What happens if they can’t do the job (and they mostly haven’t been able to)? What if, heaven forbid, Kuroda goes down, or Kershaw? Who pitches then?
Frank, you created quite a situation, and I kind of hope the bad play the past three weeks is a rebellion of sorts by the team to look worse than they are, so you’re discovered for the fraud you are. If that came out, I’d buy some tickets, gladly pay my $15 for parking and laugh my ass off.