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2005-06-06 21:39
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

A post that mentions Frank McCourt - the hornets nest of Dodger Thoughts ... I'm going to duck now.

There's an interesting article on the Dodgers' public relations problems and attempted solutions under McCourt by Bill Shaikin in Tuesday's editions of the Times.

The problem began, as Shaikin writes, with this: "McCourt's ownership of the Dodgers started not with a clean slate but with a tarnished one. Upon the advice of major league officials, McCourt remained silent during the four months needed to scrutinize the complex financing of his purchase."

I said as much as early as November 2003:

If you intend to bring glory back to the Dodger franchise, Frank, then Step 1 is for you to come to Los Angeles and tell the people so.

If you intend to have a generous approach to payroll, then come to Los Angeles and tell the people so. If you intend to have a conservative approach to payroll, then come to Los Angeles and tell the people so.

If you intend to preserve Dodger Stadium, a high-functioning city treasure, rather than embark on a real-estate swap that will make Mayor Jim Hahn's crackpot scheme for LAX look like genius, then come to Los Angeles and tell the people so.

In the absence of such a visit, in the absence of any statements on these issues, I can only assume the worst about your intentions, Frank.

Shaikin himself told me in January 2004 that his research found that "there is no rule preventing McCourt from commenting (on the Dodgers before the deal is finalized), just a recommendation." Bad recommendation.

As I said when Dodger execs Gary Miereanu and Lon Rosen were fired in April, there seemed to be more scapegoating than responsibility-taking from McCourt for his public relations problem. But there's no doubt, as Shaikin's article indicates, that hiring the PR firm of Sitrick and Co. shows that McCourt is investing in a solution.

2005-06-06 23:12:50
1.   Linkmeister
I never have understood this. If you're in a public business, which the Dodgers certainly are, you have to communicate well and often. They didn't seem to get that at all.
2005-06-07 07:32:45
2.   Dodgerkid
At least they're having communication problems about why they're obnoxious, rather than why they're losing and not spending money.
2005-06-07 08:39:29
3.   FirstMohican
Shaikin: "Rush Limbaugh called amid an investigation into how he acquired the prescription painkillers to which he subsequently acknowledged he was addicted."

Limbaugh: "...send the people who want to do drugs to London and Zurich and let's be rid of them."

Funny a little money can help put everything in perspective.


Too bad that the other recognizable clients listed in the article were dealing with crises in which they were accused of doing something illegal.

2005-06-07 08:57:07
4.   gvette
Noticeably absent from Shaikin's article is any mention (other than a passing reference to Simers) of the role of the Times Sports page, and its relentlessly negative coverage of the team in adding to the situation.

From columnists hysterically crying about Alex Cora, to ridiculing Hee Sop Choi because of his lack of English speaking skills, the Times have magnified the McCourts' missteps, and invented ones of its own.

As an example of media groupthink, a knucklehead sportsradio guy was actually complimentary to Choi during his recent hot streak. When a co-host pointed out that the same talking head had mercilessly ripped the first baseman without a break since July, the talking head (nicknamed "The Brick") responded by saying, "Well,everyone else did too."

2005-06-07 10:01:55
5.   dzzrtRatt
McCourt's hiring of Sitrick shows more naivete than savvy. Anyone who hires this firm is presumed to be guilty of something, since helping people and companies out of serious jams--lawbreaking, bankruptcy, scandal-- is what they are best known for. It's the paradox of PR these days. When a company hires an agency and that fact becomes known, it's a new PR crisis. Despite what the Times says, I'm sure Sitrick's presence on the Dodger ledgers is sending a signal to other insiders that McCourt is either trying to cover up some malfeasance, or is planning to drop a major turd on the public soon. If neither is the case, then this contract is a serious mistake.

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