Friday, October 30, 2009

And then there was Plaschke.

Wikipedia puts so much information at my fingertips. It affirms my recollection that Bill Plaschke is a four-time AP National Sports Columnist of the Year award-winner. It points me toward places helpful in reminding me that he really, really hates steroids. I like to verify things outside of Wikipedia, though. And sometimes, there are helpful footnotes, so I feel comfortable treating the information as fact and providing analysis based on it. There was no citation for this, though, so I'll let you folks come to your own conclusions about "Bill's" given name.

William Homer Plaschke opines in the LA Times:

By the time Frank and Jamie McCourt chose to publicly level their marriage, their ownership legacy had already been disintegrating.


By the time the McCourts started one divorce, another was already being finalized, between the team and the values that once made it so special.


At the same time the McCourts were scrimping on players, they were raising some of their highest ticket prices, using video messages to foster an unsettling street feeling in some parts of the stands, and, oh yeah, after one playoff game, I counted a full hour before the parking lot could empty.

Divorced or not, understand that when it comes to their fans, the McCourts have long since lost that loving feeling.
I really struggled with what to cut out. The video messages fostering "an unsettling street feeling" were recordings of "celebrated stoner Snoop Dogg [promoting] the team on the video board." For all his vitriol, Plaschke never notes the irony that, like it or not, the sport of baseball as a whole celebrates drug users. Plaschke doesn't completely miss the opportunity to lob grenades at Manny Ramirez, though.

According to Plaschke, the foundering McCourts doomed the 2009 Dodgers in two principal ways: they coddled Ramirez and failed to acquire Cliff Lee. Plaschke says that by not forcing Ramirez to fess up and make good with the public, the McCourts created a "huge hole in the middle of their lineup." On Lee, Plaschke suggests that the Dodgers declined to pursue the ace lefty over salary concerns.

Leaving aside the number of teams that would have been much better off with such a "huge hole" in their lineups, and the complete uncertainty over what the Phillies might have sought from the Dodgers, it's fair to ask if the McCourts' personal problems affected this season. Certainly, some moves the Dodgers made were on the cheap--the club got some help in the Thome and Garland deals, for instance. But the team also acquired George Sherrill, due the remaining portion of his $2.75 million contract and eligible for a raise in arbitration. They also paid what was left on Belliard's $1.9 million deal.

Cliff Lee was owed $5.75 million this season and his team holds an $8 million option for next season (with a $1 million buyout). If the Dodgers acquired Thome, Garland, Sherrill, Belliard, and Padilla--but didn't pursue Lee over financial concerns--I think it's fair to say that would be baseball operations malpractice of the highest order. I don't believe money was the obstacle to a Cliff Lee deal. Cleveland already had Carlos Santana, the Orioles were on the verge of acquring Josh Bell, and the Dodgers just didn't have many premium pieces left. Plaschke can wring his hands all he wants, but giving up Kershaw to get Lee would have been an overpay.

The point here is that it's awfully easy to connect dots when you're not worried about ending up with that cute duck holding a flower in its bill. Drawing lines between tenuously-related points and calling what is left "art" is certainly worthy of a spot on Mom and Dad's fridge. Earlier, I noted that Dodger fans should remember the amenities enjoyed by the McCourts when cost concerns influence a roster move. I'm just not ready to say that the McCourts are why the Dodgers didn't get Lee. Not without more.

The narrow focus of this little corner of the internet is the McCourt divorce and how it will affect the Dodgers moving forward. I'm not convinced that the non-trade for Lee is a relevant data point to that analysis.


  1. Thank you for your review of Plaschke's fine article from 10/30/09. Mr. Plaschke argues that the way the "McCourt have behaved toward eachother" has affected the team. In other words, the selfish private life of the McCourts hurt the baseball team and the families that go to Dodger stadium. I agree 100% and know it's true. What we do in private does affect our public relations.

    Mr. Fisher's clear review of Plascke's article is also very good. Fisher writes, "According to Plaschke, the foundering McCourts doomed the 2009 Dodgers in two principal ways..." I agree 100% since it is weak to blame (1) the failure to be tough with Ramirez and (2) the failure to sign Lee on the owner's personal troubles.

    I wonder whether the repulsive divorce between the Dodger owners has an effect on the team? If so, where? I response to this question by saying that yes, the divorce between the Dodger owners does affect the team – me. I care about the Dodgers and I never cared for the McCourts. And if I wish to keep reading the sports page, then I will have to care about both the Dodgers and the McCourts. Bummer.

  2. Whatever people say, I'm still sure that they are the best! Even if they lose, they do it wonderful )) So I don't care, they are the best in everything!

  3. Thank you for writing such a wonderful article!