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About Jon
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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
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Karros Goodbye
2004-07-27 17:24
by Jon Weisman

Funny that I just finished an entry on ex-Dodgers an hour before getting this news. On the other hand, perhaps not so funny that a Dodger born the same month as I may have reached the end of the line - no matter the mixed feelings I grew to have for him.

In any event, Eric Karros has been designated for assignment by Oakland after OPSing .554 in 40 games. The news comes 4 1/2 months after Karros and Ross Newhan of the Times aggressively wondered why the Dodgers did not pursue him to play first base for them this season.

Karros was briefly a hero of mine, for the way he perservered through the Dodger system and became a bright spot in a miserable 1992 season. And he seemed to have been good to the reporters that covered the team.

But ultimately, he became one of my least favorite Dodgers. His stiff and morose body language on the field would make you think Shawn Green was Max Patkin. He became the epitome of the 30-homers-and-nothing-else hitter. And the incident in which he called out a young Ismael Valdez (then Valdes) and questioned his commitment to winning instigated one of the ugliest clubhouse dramas in post-'88 Dodger history, with people taking sides, in my recollection, along racial lines.

Eric Karros as the all-time Los Angeles home run leader? I want to ask for a recount.

And yet ... if it were possible to simultaneously initiate and limit such things, I wouldn't mind seeing the Dodgers sign Karros to a one-day contract at the end of the season, so that he would take his final at-bat as a Dodger. Eric Karros is probably a good guy, and it'd be nice to see him get the chance to tip his hat in uniform one final time to the Dodger crowd.

Clarification (July 28): Writing "... with people taking sides, in my recollection, along racial lines" was misleading, if not inaccurate.

In the aftermath of the Karros-Valdez conflict, the Times ran stories that defended Karros' actions, using quotes from Karros and several people in the Dodger organization. Not one of those quoted was Valdez, nor any Spanish-speaking member of the club. This might not have been malicious, but it was blatant. Public opinion was shaped without Valdez's side of the story coming close to being told.

Perhaps Valdez was wholly to blame for the incident. But I doubt it.

However, if I implied that Karros instigated a racial conflict, I apologize. What I was trying to express was my firm belief that the native language of the participants played an integral role in how this incident was percieved, and ultimately the ability for Valdez to pitch successfully in Los Angeles. It also somehow cemented this idea of Karros as a clubhouse leader.

I recall a play where Chan Ho Park fielded a ball and made a wild throw to first. Karros made no attempt to catch it and no attempt to chase it down. He seemed more concerned with emphasizing that the throw was off-target than minimizing the damage. That does make Karros worthless, any more than 30 home runs are worthless. But until the end, Karros always seemed to get the benefit of the doubt in this town, always seemed to have people covering for him, yet rarely seemed to return the favor. He really seemed, more than many, to lack the ability to be honest about his own flaws.

As the comments below help indicate, Karros' career is one of the most difficult to evaluate in Dodger history. And to show that I have ability to be honest about my own flaws, it's undeniably weak that I don't do more actual reporting to collect the information that would allow us to better evaluate him.

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