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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Messages Received
2004-01-20 08:10
by Jon Weisman

You may be trees falling in the Big Blue wilderness, but you do make a sound. And someone is there to hear it.

Dan Evans reads the fan forum at

Ben Platt, national correspondent for and overseer of the message boards, said in an e-mail interview Monday that he discusses fan postings with Dodger general manager Evans, president and Chief Operating Officer Bob Graziano, and senior vice president of communications Derrick Hall.

"Evans peruses the board on a regular basis during the season," said Platt, who introduced the Dodgers to the Internet in 1994 and was webmaster of until took over all individual team sites in 2001.

To be sure, Evans isn't looking for advice from fans on the boards. Nor should people expect a response of any kind from Evans in the forum - unless the collective train of thought is venturing into Neverland.

"He and I will talk about certain threads," Platt said, "and if he feels a clarification is needed or if a rumor is floating around on the board that is completely off-base or with no foundation, he will call me and I will relay the message to the board."

The most the Dodgers have done with fan-posted information, according to Platt, is get an idea for a marketing campaign.

"I remember in 1999, a fan had pointed out on the old message board that the Dodgers had won the pennant in '55, '66, '77 and '88, and we were due to win it in '99, but that didn't pan out," Platt said. "The publicity department ran with that all through the 1999 season."

Nevertheless, if you do have something to say, you might as well give it your best (and most articulate and unprofane) shot. Evans and Co. is listening. None of the displeasure that many Dodger fans are feeling is lost on anyone at Chavez Ravine.

"The negativity is at an all-time high," said Platt, who was prompted eight days ago by the hostility and vulgarity of some messages to respond with this plea: "Will everyone please just take a chill pill?"

The fury that led to this response became part of one of Platt's discussions with Dodger management.

Is there a moral to this story? Ultimately, the message boards are for the entertainment of the fans. The folks sitting on either side of you at the game are the principal audience for anything you might post.

Still, Dan Evans gets wind of what you post. And I would rather be heard by Dan Evans - even if I'm going to be ignored - than not heard at all.

Want proof? I didn't ask Platt if anyone with the Dodgers reads Dodger Thoughts. I was afraid the answer would be no. (Well, I also thought it would be a pretty pathetic question.)

Anyway, what follows is the interview with Platt, who also discusses the official Dodger website's approach to news. It is not the task of sites to break any stories, so don't look for any revelations about Frank McCourt or Eli Broad there.

* * *

--How are topics for news stories chosen (aside from game coverage and notebooks)? Does writer Ken Gurnick choose them? Is he assigned? A combination?

A little bit of both. Ken gets assigned some stories, but most of the time he writes what he wants. Often or not, the story of the day dictates what Kenny's covering. He has a little more freedom to do more profiles, etc., during the off-season.

--What is the relationship between and Dan Evans/Bob Daly/etc.? How does your site's access to the braintrust compare to that of Ross Newhan or Jason Reid of the Times?

I personally have a great relationship with upper management, but even with that I have to request on-the-record time with Dodger publicity just like everyone else. But I would say because of my proximity to everyone and because it's the web and we need to prep a story with graphics, etc., I'm sometimes tipped in advance on a breaking story, just to get everything setup. The understanding is we won't release the story until the Dodgers want it released.

--The Times (and for what little it's worth, Dodger Thoughts) has found concerns over the financing of McCourt's bid. How has reported this story? Would Gurnick or anyone do any investigative reporting, or do you consider your role to report the news as it is revealed?

In this case, because all the dealing are really going on at Pico Blvd. (the offices of Fox Broadcasting), not at Dodger Stadium, we find out a lot of stuff just like everyone else does. In the case of the sale, we don't speculate or do our own investigating. We will just report the facts as they come out.

--Did know before anyone else that money gained from the Kevin Brown trade would not be spent on a long-term free agent signing, at least until the McCourt bid was resolved? That there would be, as you wrote on the message boards, "a spending freeze during the final phase of the sale."

No. My comments regarding the spending freeze were based on my experience in 1997-98 when the O'Malley family sold the team to News Corp.

--If and when has a scoop (as opposed to public knowledge) that reflected negatively on members of the organization, how does the site treat that?

It's really not our place to break a story like that. If the rest of the media finds out about it, we'll post the facts. For instance, if I had found out about Guillermo Mota's DUI and the rest of the media didn't, I would have sat on it. You walk a fine line with the players and organization and those are tough calls.

--Roughly how many messages are there on the message boards are there in a given day or week or month?

It really depends on time of year and what the news is. I would say there are at least 100 posts a day, minimum, and it could jump up to 500 or 600 if there is some big news. On our old message board we averaged more than 1,200 posts a day in May of 1998 when Piazza was traded.

--What percentage of the messages do you read?

I try to read as many as I can. I go on the board about four times a day. I am fortunate that because of my position with MLB I was able to get two other people, Andrea Berman and Jared Ravich, on to monitor the board with me. It is by far the cleanest message board in baseball. We don't tolerate personal attacks or profanity. We use a bend-but-don't-break defense with posters. But we're also not afraid to delete posts that break the Terms of Service agreement and throw out people that continuously break those rules. We want the board to be a fun and safe place for fans to talk about the Dodgers.

--What has been the hottest topic since you've been on the job?

Piazza was the all-time champ back in 1998 on the old board. This has been a very trying off-season for fans and the negativity is at an all-time high. I feel for them, because I'm still a fan at heart and I know what they're going through.

--Do Dodger executives read the messages?

Yes they do. Do they post? No. Dan Evans peruses the board on a regular basis during the season. He and I will talk about certain threads, and if he feels a clarification is needed or if a rumor is floating around on the board that is completely off-base or with no foundation, he will call me and I will relay the message to the board.

--How would you describe your relationship to the people posting messages?

For the most part, I have a good relationship with the posters. I see the board as entertainment. To me it's a fun community where like-minded people can get together and talk about their favorite team. There is a faction on the board of people who take what goes on with the Dodgers way too seriously or have transferred their own personal frustrations into the team, so if the team is a winner - so are they; if the team is a loser than they are too. To those people, I write periodically and say, "Turn off your computer and go take a walk in the park, call a friend or a relative or just go do something different." Remember, with everything going on this is still suppose to be fun. If you're not having fun, then it's time to go.

--Your post on January 12th reflected some genuine (and I'm guessing legitimate) frustration on your part with some recent messages on the site. When you see that level of frustration or even hostility displayed on the site, who does that get reported to in the organization, if anyone?

I will periodically talk it over with Dan and Bob Graziano. Bob has always been interested in what the fans are thinking. Derrick Hall and I talk about the board too.

--If you were a fan, not employed by the Dodgers, what would your state of mind be about the Dodgers today?

I think the current team needs a one more real spark plug to compliment a healthy Shawn Green. Shawn is a quiet, lead by example type. The team needs that one superstar to really rally around. As for the future on the field, I'm very optimistic. I've met all of the Dodgers blue-chip minor league prospects. If the organization hold on to Loney, Miller, Gutierrez, Jackson, Nixon, Pilkington, Billingsley, etc., and they stay healthy - watch out. That is going to be a good nucleus to work from for many years to come.

-- Can you describe an example or examples of when someone on the message boards posted an idea that hadn't occurred to the Dodger management, and that idea was followed through on? Or has that never happened?

That has really never happened. I remember in 1999 a fan had pointed out on the old message board that the Dodgers had won the pennant in '55, '66, '77 and '88, and we were due to win it in '99, but that didn't pan out. The publicity department ran with that all through the 1999 season.

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