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Look Out, Vinny - You're Next
2003-08-05 10:04
by Jon Weisman

This is only tangentially related to the above post, but what kind of nonsense was it this morning for Jason Reid and the Times to try turning Dan Evans' firing of Jack Clark into a News Corp. sale-of-the-team issue?

The headline of the article was "Firing of Clark Raises Concerns," and the jumphead was "Evans' Change of Heart Concerns Officials."

In the entire article, this was the only reference to the aforementioned concerns:

Trying to allay concerns about job security with the Dodgers struggling in late June, General Manager Dan Evans assured Manager Jim Tracy and the coaching staff no in-season changes would be made.

Late Sunday night, however, Evans and Tracy fired batting instructor Jack Clark after the team returned from a disappointing 2-7 trip. The Dodgers promoted triple-A batting instructor George Hendrick to serve as Clark's interim replacement.

Details about the closed-door meeting in June at Edison Field were revealed Monday by team officials concerned that Evans would backtrack on his strong comments, causing more uncertainty among employees already nervous about their standing as News Corp. attempts to sell the franchise.

That's it. Nothing more. Nothing to indicate why the firing of an objectively unsuccessful batting instructor should cause nightmares for the assistant marketing manager or Nancy Bea.

Do you think anyone buying or selling the Los Angeles Dodgers cares one financial ledger about who the Dodger batting coach is?

If people are going to get fired in the aftermath of a Dodger sale, believe me, it won't have anything to do with Evans' guarantee or reversal of same - a guarantee, from all that the Times communicates to us - that was made to on-field personnel, not any "officials" of any kind.

This was a baseball issue. Jack Clark was fired because Jack Clark wasn't doing his job very well. Can anyone do the job? As I wrote on June 25 ...

There may be no solution - we don't know. What we do know is that [Clark's] current approach does not work. No need to prolong using it.
... and as Jim Tracy said in the Times today, six weeks later ...

"With as much time as there is left in the season, and a chance to find out if a change of a different opinion, a different philosophy or a different voice will make a difference, that's what we're willing to try to find out. That's what we had to be willing to try and find out."
... you said it, Jim. The time had come to find out.

Can we just get rid of the idea, for now and ever, that Clark is the fall guy, the guy unfairly blamed for the lack of talent on the Dodger roster? The players have gotten plenty of blame. Daryle Ward has been sent to the minors. Shawn Green has been ridiculed. Adrian Beltre, as Peter Gammons points out, may not "even get a big league, $500,000 contract next spring." The list goes on and on.

Clark is by no means the only guy that should be sent to the showers for the Dodger offensive failures in 2003, but that hardly means he should be exempt. A move - a baseball move - needed to be made.

Am I ranting? I'm sorry if I come across as ranting. I just feel that all season long, the coverage of Jack Clark in the papers has been simpleminded, and if nothing else, I'm hoping a lesson can be taken from it.

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