Friday, April 23, 2010

Sometimes, you have to tip your cap.

In Wednesday's Times, Eric Sondheimer wrote about an effort to help keep the Los Angeles Unified School District's sports programs active. An excerpt:
A projected $640-million deficit in the 2010-11 school year prompted the school district to institute a 25% budget cut in the sports program. In the fall, football programs were going to be reduced from having six paid coaches to four and freshman-sophomore basketball teams were expected to be eliminated. Additional cuts were planned for the spring.
McCourt said he learned of the proposed cutbacks to sports after inviting a group of civic leaders to the Dodgers' spring training facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona late last month.
"Everybody was quite alarmed," he said. "We went to work in a collaborative way. I indicated right then and there they should count me and the Dodgers in."
McCourt pledged that the Dodgers Dream Foundation would help support baseball and softball. 
I grew up playing baseball in the South Bay. One of the glorious things about Southern California is you can play it year-round, and I mostly did for about ten years. Look at this sort of thing how you will: kind-hearted and altruistic or shallow and made-for-TV. Whatever it is, it's keeping kids on the baseball field. And in my book, that's a wonderful thing.
Bringing things back to the Dodgers organization, I'm happy to hear that Frank does things like the sit-down with civic leaders mentioned above. Much criticism has been leveled at the McCourts for failing to connect with Los Angeles. While it's easy to see that the fans are generally down on the McCourts, if Frank intends to be around for the long haul--which he says he is--then having the private support of the movers and shakers is a must. The fans will come back, too, as the wins stack up and the organization builds toward sustainable excellence.

Since today is We Love Frank McCourt day at Dodger Divorce, I'd be remiss to ignore Tony Jackson's great piece on Ned Colletti up today at ESPN Los Angeles. How Frank closed:
Giants owner Peter Magowan didn't want Colletti to go, especially not to the archrival Dodgers, and certainly not until after the GM meetings, which were in Indian Wells. When those meetings concluded, Colletti drove to Los Angeles and met with Frank and Jamie McCourt for eight hours.
"You could tell the process was going to be very quick,'' Colletti said. "They had a lot of questions on a vast array of topics, and it was very much a rapid-fire Q-and-A. I had a lot of questions for them, too."
That was on a Friday. Magowan, who had granted a 72-hour window for the McCourts, met with Colletti on the following Monday.
"We talked about where we had been as an organization,'' Colletti said. "I said I really had to follow through. Frank called and asked for a second interview and I said yes, but we needed a 24-hour extension on the window. Peter said he would only give me until noon on Tuesday. I went home, grabbed a suit and flew to L.A. We met at the Beverly Hills Hotel from 2 until midnight, with a 45-minute break for a salad at the Polo Lounge.''
The interview was intense, challenging, exhausting, but Colletti gave as good as he got, which was exactly what McCourt was looking for. Colletti pretty much heard what he wanted to hear, as well.
"I talked about the goals and objectives of the organization and how serious I was about those,'' McCourt said. "I wanted him to have a very clear sense of what he was walking into, and he was undeterred by it. It was what he wanted.''
McCourt left at midnight and returned the following morning at 6.
"By 10, Frank had offered me the job,'' Colletti said. "By noon, we had a deal.''
If you're any sort of Dodgers fan, you need to go read the whole thing. It's excellent work. And it's only the first part of two.
Ok, ok, ok, back to business. A few weeks ago, I somehow missed this Boston Herald article, now behind a pay wall (sorry!). It has some interesting nuggets, including this:
[Frank's] attorney, Sorrell Trope, told the judge his client can't tap credit lines to maintain Jamie McCourt's high-falutin' lifestyle. 

"If we look at this case, realistically, you can't order Mr. McCourt to borrow money to pay support,'' Trope toldSuperior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon.

This is a little funky. If Trope was referring to Frank's operating lines of credit, this argument doesn't do much for me. Using lines of credit to pay for expenses is how the McCourts live--and that's fine. It's how extraordinarily folks should do it. So to say that Frank would have to go into debt to pay support is a wee bit disingenuous. 
How about that Matt Kemp kid? Keep an eye on that youngster. He might be a pretty good player someday. Have a great weekend, Dodger fans. I'm counting down the days until my first (but hopefully not only) Dodgers game of the year: next month in Chicago.
Oh, and Dodger Divorce still believes in Chad. 

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