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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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It Continues
2005-08-28 08:36
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

The stuff about Jim Tracy's postgame reflections in Tim Brown's Times column today is interesting, but Brown's lines about Jeff Kent and Milton Bradley are the most provocative:

Kent should have known Bradley wouldn't react well to badgering, and here's something to think about: Maybe Kent did. He had to see Bradley cracking, had to know Bradley's reputation for responding poorly to criticism, yet Kent continued to ride him to a predictable outcome.

It's either speculation or information on background. Either way, it's charged material.

* * *

Chemistry and character have dominated the discussion this week. They've been lumped together, in an increasingly bothersome way.

There's a difference between saying that the members of the Dodger roster don't mix well together and that they aren't stand-up individuals. The former seems to have been some kind of problem in that the players might not have brought out the best in each other, though how many losses this actually translated to is unclear.

I have still yet to be shown that character was the downfall of the team in 2005.

In hindsight, would you trade Milton Bradley for Steve Finley? Would you trade Jeff Kent for Alex Cora?

Don Newcombe talks to Bill Plaschke today about the anger that led Newcombe to start throwing knockdown pitches at an entire lineup of opposing batters, about balking at pitching batting practice as directed during the hallowed 1955 season. Who would suggest that Newcombe didn't belong on the Dodgers?

I value character. But I also recognize complexity. Character is not, forgive the phrase, black and white.

Comments
2005-08-28 09:20:38
1.   Doug N
To answer your question, no. To rephrase it, would you trade a winning team of jerks & low-lifes for a losing team of fine upstanding harmonious gentlemen?

I'm discouraged that McCourt & DePodesta are publicly giving voice to the character question. Injuries and a weak free agent pitching market did this team in.

2005-08-28 09:29:00
2.   Colorado Blue
I'm convinced the whole Bradley/Kent incident is being blown WAY out of proportion... The MSM and L.A.'s in particular are simply sharks searching for blood. It makes for sensational "news" when there is little else that is sensational about the Dodgers season...

I'm not out there, nor do I care to read the L.A. columnists, but if I were a betting man I'd say the Angels do actually sit at the right hand of God and can do no wrong. Think of the heat Finley would be taking if the Angels were 11 games under .500.

This stuff is best ignored by the fans and handled internally as much as possible. Whether or not they have had a good PR machine, I'm sure McCourt/DePo et. al. are more than capable of dealing with the situation appropriately. If that means at minimum compelling MB not to take issues outside the clubhouse, or at maximum getting rid of MB, then so be it. And believe me, nobody wants MB back with the Dodgers more than me, but the team comes first.

On another note, I was pleased to see/hear the applause Jackson got when he came out... and to Tracy's credit, he pulled him at the right time IMO (and I'm NOT a fan of Tracy's).

Here's to Jackson continuing to improve and the Dodgers as well.

2005-08-28 09:44:30
3.   LAT
Been out of town this week and missed perhaps the most controversial few days of this season. Which is saying something because this season has not been short on controversy. Interestingly, the Kent-Bradley dispute got very little play in San Francisco. You would think that this would be a perfect opportunity for the SF media to revisit the Bonds-Kent dispute and vilify Kent again.

As for JT, his comments are a little disappointing in that they serve to fan the flames rather than douse them. Also disturbing because he is criticizing Kent for not knowing MB is a hothead. For me there are two problems with that, first it excuses MB's lack of self control and second, it is potentially further disruptive to the team.

Finally, character and chemistry are not the same thing. For example, I assume JD Drew's character is in tact. By all accounts he is a religious, ethical, thoughtful individual. Yet he seems to have the personality of a monk. 25 Drew's would have lots of character but no chemistry. Of course none of us would care about chemistry because if the 25 Drew's stayed healthy we would win the WS, (assuming they can pitch). Likewise, Bonnie & Clyde had great chemistry but that doesn't give them character.

2005-08-28 09:47:21
4.   Jon Weisman
3 - I should clarify that the italicized lines are Brown's, not Tracy's.
2005-08-28 09:50:55
5.   LAT
4 Oh, then in the words of Emily LaTella: "Never mind."
2005-08-28 09:57:35
6.   Howard Fox
Nobody asked me, but here is my take on the whole situation.

McCourt and DePodesta are going public with the whole character thing because it is the PC thing to do. Will it change the way DePo evaluates, chooses, promotes, drafts players? No, at least I hope not.

As I have mentioned before, chemistry is a media driven concept. When a team is winning, they have chemistry, when not, they don't. Our chemistry was destroyed July 31, 2004, at least until we won the division. Our chemistry was destroyed when Beltre, Cora and Finley left. Then we look at their seasons and well, maybe it wasn't as bad as all that.

I am a firm believer that the whole chemistry issue is way overblown. Anyone remember the fun Steinbrenner, Martin, Jackson days in New York? They seemed to compete pretty well on the field, because between the lines they were professionals, they did what they were there for, regardless of what happened off the field.

Are the Dodgers poorly managed? maybe...

Poorly constructed? maybe...

Poorly owned? maybe...

Or maybe not...who knows? With all the injuries, it may or may not be fair to judge anyone based on this season.

I have never liked the way Tracy manages a game. That being said, he is a true professional, and I admire and respect the way he has handled all the adversity throughout the season, even if a part of me thinks some of it may be of his doing.

Last year we had great chemistry, at least that is what the media told us. Bradley blew up.

This year we have no chemistry, at least that is what the media tells us. Bradley blew up.

But when he is on the field, showing up teammates, gesturing to the dugout that "am I hustling enough for you now" attitude, he has crossed the line.

I like Bradley alot, always have. He shows his excitement, rare these days. He is fun to watch because it looks like he cares.

Does Bradley have talent? yes...great talent? maybe... But my gut tells me he has to go if he isn't gone already. His problems have nothing to do with chemistry or the team winning or losing.

Then again...never mind...

2005-08-28 10:04:18
7.   willhite
I have now seen at least twice (the second time today being an online reference to a Denver newspaper), references to Dodger players not wanting Bradley back.

It would be one thing if it was only Kent, but I'm kind of surprised to have read this about other (not named) Dodger players also wanting Milton gone.

2005-08-28 10:10:57
8.   HHortin
If your organizational culture doesn't allow key players to confront or try to hold people accountable it seems like you will be headed nowhere and fast. I have no idea how well Kent confronted Bradley but I'm hesitant to criticize him for trying.

That said, I wouldn't write off salvaging the Bradley experiment yet. Character matters but disagreements happen and people make mistakes. After this last season his salary will probably be affordable again next year. His trade value can only go up from here. Plua, I thought LA would get compensation if they offer arbitration & he leaves.

2005-08-28 10:20:25
9.   HHortin
#6

I think character matters but I also agree with your characterization of 'chemistry' ( a superficial concept promoted by those who don't understand the difference between causation & correlation). I guess it rarely strikes a journalist that good moods may be a byproduct of winning rather than the other way around.

2005-08-28 10:23:33
10.   SiGeg
Howard's take 6 speaks to my views as well as anything I've seen, although I'm not quite sure I have a gut feeling about Bradley needing to be gone or not.

I'm sick of the chemistry and character stuff because I don't think I really have any good idea about the characters of any of these individual players, how they really interact, what's really happened between them, how it really affects their play, and so on. How should I know?

I understand the impulse to make sports into a moral battle between the good guys and the bad guys. For me, the Dodgers are the good guys, and I do really want them to be "good guys" (and to all love each other, as good guys do) aside from being good ballplayers. I have no doubt, however, that the only reason they're ultimately the good guys in my mind is that they are the Dodgers, and I'm a fan of the Dodgers. They play for me -- that's why they exist, so that I can make them into a projection of the good guy in me. Sometimes looking too closely at them as real human beings with relationships and personalities can be fascinating and inspiring, but sometimes I just don't want to know about it because it gets in the way of them doing for me what I need them to do.

I hope the above is actually clearer than I think it is....

2005-08-28 10:31:09
11.   Borchard504
I will miss Bradley tremendously if Depo and McCourt get rid of him, for exactly the same reasons as (POST 6). I'll miss his emotion, his frankness, his love of being in LA, his willingness to be unique.

I'd like everyone to take a walk in MB's shoes, considering the excellent points Tim Brown has delineated, to be the only black Dodger, and have Jeff Kent goad him till he goes over the edge.

2005-08-28 10:39:25
12.   Bob Timmermann
So why would Kent want to deliberately provoke Bradley so he would go over the top? What does he gain from that?

Borrowing a Steinbrenner term is Bradley a "true Dodger"?

2005-08-28 11:20:04
13.   mountainmover
Everything I have heard about the incident had no mention of "badgering" or "goading". That's media BS. Everyting I have heard points to the fact that JK called MB about an apparent lack of hustle. How "badgering" or "goading" arises out that that incident flies in the face of the facts I have heard. It also flies in the face watching how Jeff Kent goes about his business, both in Spring Training (I was there) and in games this year (I have watched most and been to several - 8/31 @ Wrigley is next for me).

Tim Brown has interjected baseless (unless he reveals facts not yet known to us) allegations into his article. For the most part, I like his writing, but he's off base in this one. Isn't Brown the reporter Bradley called "Uncle Tom?"

2005-08-28 11:22:06
14.   Bob Timmermann
13
That was Jason Reid.

Blacks don't call whites "Uncle Toms" unless they are literally an uncle named Tom I believe.

2005-08-28 11:30:31
15.   Icaros
If Bob Timmermann had children, they would have an uncle Tom.
2005-08-28 11:31:30
16.   Bob Timmermann
I have another brother with kids and my brother Tom's wife has nephews and nieces too so he is used to the sobriquet.
2005-08-28 11:35:14
17.   Icaros
I have an uncle Greg, an uncle Mark, an uncle Will, and an uncle Jack, but sadly no uncle Tom.

I will never get to be an uncle myself because I have no siblings.

2005-08-28 11:36:48
18.   DougS
Spot-on post, Jon. As I attempted to say in the comments yesterday: Character, chemistry, two different things and the twain do not necessarily meet. We would do well to remember that.
2005-08-28 11:39:18
19.   Bob Timmermann
Icaros you can become an uncle if you marry someone who has siblings.

It's a backdoor route to unclehood.

2005-08-28 11:42:19
20.   Icaros
19 That just seems unreal to me. If I were to then get divorced, I'd be an ex-uncle. How painful is that?

Uncle Icaros does have a nice ring to it, though.

2005-08-28 11:44:17
21.   Vishal
is it unclehood or uncledom? uncleness or an uncleship, perhaps?
2005-08-28 11:45:18
22.   Kayaker7
19 You're making me cry uncle. ;-)

6 I agree that this is just a PR bs that Depo is putting out. They're going to keep Bradley, saying that he showed a lot of character in his private discussions, blah blah blah. Anything can be spun any which way, as long as you keep a straight face while doing it. Recent political campaigns have proven that.

2005-08-28 11:49:15
23.   Icaros
21 Uncledom is what you'd call your least intelligent uncle.
2005-08-28 11:50:51
24.   Kayaker7
21 Avuncularism is achieved by a combination of age, demeanor and a minimum height of beltline above the ankles.
2005-08-28 12:01:01
25.   Bob Timmermann
The OED gives "unclehood" a description of "rare".

"Avuncularity" is the word that the OED likes for 24

"Avuncularism" is a Britishism referring to pawnbrokers.

2005-08-28 12:23:35
26.   Blue Thrue and Thrue
I haven't seen anyone post this here, but remember how we got Bradley in the first place? His manager got in a confrontation with him because MB didn't run out a ground ball. So not the first time he's been accused of lacking hustle.

And his reaction to the criticism was so over the top that Cleveland announced immediately that they would trade him. So not the first time he's reacted poorly, either.

For what it's worth...

2005-08-28 12:40:12
27.   Fallout
>>>In hindsight, would you trade Milton Bradley for Steve Finley? Would you trade Jeff Kent for Alex Cora?<<<

These are not the only choices.

Cora could play 2nd and Kent at first. Cora
could be the 5th infielder. He is good enough to play for Boston. Cora brings more to the game than statistics.

2005-08-28 12:40:29
28.   Louis in SF
I think Howard's comments on the season in many ways sum "some" of the things up for the season. Right now everyone is coming at this team from different ways and in some ways protecting their on points of view. WHile the LA Times and Plaschke in particular are criticized pretty strongly on this site and many times correctly, I think the Newcombe article was in some ways pointing more at the Dodgers for not appreciating and perhaps under utilizing someone with his talent. Don Newcombe was a great pitcher who flamed out early impart do to struggles with booze and probably understandably so bitter about what he had to go trhough as an African American player. I think in many ways Newcombe would have liked to see a a larger role more quicly for some of the Dodger African American players. His point of the only DOdger to talk pitching with him over the past years being Wilson Alvarez was also an important. However, Plaschke lumped much of this into just character and the true point is lost...The mea culpa's from DePodesta and McCourt have been interesting and both now are saying they will take character into account, but when all is said and done DePodesta's main fault in my mind was not being able to come up with a player at the deadline and perhaps it was impossible. The Tracy issues are well known, but it is completly unfair to blame him for both Penny and Lowe seriously under performing. As far as comments by Brown about Kent badering Bradley, it may not be media bs at this point we don't know. And given Bradley's knee problems confirmed by two doctors, I might be more than willing to give him one more shot-perhaps that is whay he wasn't running so well and maybe someone needs to confront Kent and ask him directly if he knew that Bradley had that problem and if he didn't would his view of him be different, except on the race issue where Bradley was clearly out of line and most everyone has agreed on that one...While a terrible season yes and for a mishmash of reasons, playing good in September with some young kids getting a real look would probably be the brightest thing the Dodgers could do for 2005.
2005-08-28 12:41:24
29.   los angeles dragons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Kent

From Kent's time with the Mets:

"Furthermore, he acquired a poor reputation in the clubhouse where he was known for a quick temper and isolationism."

From Kent's time with the Giants:

"Tension had also grown between Kent and Bonds: a midseason shoving match in the Giants dugout was widely reported."

It's unfair to say that Bradley is problematic without acknowledging the fact that Kent has had his share of similar problems i.e. the above incidents and yelling at umpires.

2005-08-28 12:42:49
30.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
To paraphrase Billy Joel, would you rather win with the sinners or lose with the saints?
I want to win, of course. Who doesn't?
But the problem with collecing bad character guys is, if you don't win the fans will revolt. To borrow from another sport, look at Portland and the TrailBlazers. That city and its team enjoyed a love affair spanning decades - until nitwits like Damon Stoudamire got into trouble one too many times while winning one too few times.
2005-08-28 13:07:08
31.   mountainmover
I think Jeff Kent's rap in NY & SF was largely deserved. However, in his last stop you are going to be loathe to find players saying bad things about him AND anyone can now watch how he interacts with umps. They show him extreme respect (for whatever reason). I can relate to Jeff Kent because I can get on a person, but it's over after that.

Tim Brown talks about Bradley's 25 HR/100 RBI potential.

P-O-T-E-N-T-I-A-L!

Jeff Kent IS 25 HR/100 RBI - Repeatedly.
Milton Bradly has that type of "Potential" but sometimes it takes a guy like Jeff Kent to help you tap that potential.

I have no doubt Jeff Kent got on Bradley. Lance Berkman said Jeff Kent rode him like a rented mule, but he would love to have him back.

NY & SF are ancient history.

Here's the deal: Bradley says Kent doesn't know how to treat African-American Players. I say "Why do you have to treat them differently?"

Color shouldn't matter. Should Kent go easier on Bradley than Berkman because he is black and Berkman is white?

Is Bradley saying that Blacks have to be treated differently? Martin Luther King and many others have fought for equality for Blacks, and I for one will treat you like I treat everyone else.

Bradley's problem is that he thinks he deserves different treatment. I think Kent treated him like he treated every other player he perceived was not hustling. I think Kent treated him like a man. That Bradley reacted like a little kid is not on Kent.

Jeff Kent will "Make You or Break You" Milton Bradley. I love Milton's game. I hate his "Chip."

I would welcome back the Milton Bradley Jeff Kent was pushing him to be.

2005-08-28 13:20:55
32.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
Cora could be the 5th infielder. He is good enough to play for Boston.
Since Boston acquired Cora on July 7, he's played in 25 games, 15 starts. He's "hitting" 276/295/397.

Cora brings more to the game than statistics.
I'd hope, because those stats are not good.

2005-08-28 19:03:32
33.   popup
$22, I think you are right, McCourt and/or DePo will in the end be able to put a positive spin on whatever decision they make regarding Bradley. I don't think you are saying that is a good thing, nor do I think it is either. If they decide Milton has to go, I won't criticize them, nor will I do so if he stays; I assume McCourt/DePo have more information about the issue than I do, and in most instances, as long as I think the person making the decision is reasonable, I am willing to defer to the person with the most information. There are some things though that make me question whether McCourt is reasonable.

In a radio interview quite a few years ago Bob Costas remarked that although he was a Yankee fan as a kid, when he became a national sports reporter, he could no longer be a fan of any particular team. He went on to say though that if he were a doctor, lawyer or whatever, he surely would be a baseball fan but he would not be a Yankee fan. He said that the very sensibility that drew him to the Yankees was no longer there under Steinbrenner. The Costas' comments are food for thought for me.

I think McCourt finds himself in an interesting pickle. He has a team in Orange County that wants to take a bite out of his territory. He puts up a billboard of Sandy, Fernando and Odalis before the year that underscores how far his franchise has fallen. Now he is trying to emphasize Dodger tradition with a general manager whose claim to fame is being a maverick. I suspect McCourt is going to get dizzy from all the spinning. It seems to me that he is trying to go in all directions at once. If he continues on that course, he will inevitably satisfy no one.

Stan from Tacoma

2005-08-28 19:27:07
34.   Robert Fiore
One possibility you have to consider is that McCourt's and DePodesta's media comments may have been orchestrated by this fancy new public relations outfit they hired, and that it's all a strategy to massage the press.

I've said this before and I say it again, the thing you have to note about Paul DePodesta is that faced with a number of difficult decisions, he made the right choices, i.e., letting Steve Finley go, letting Adrian Beltre go, letting Jose Lima go, believing Jeff Kent still has prime years left in him. You have to also remember that if you keep Paul LoDuca, you give up Brad Penny, and if you keep LoDuca, Beltre and Finley you're paying them something like 30 million dollars.

Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds didn't get along, but that didn't keep them from playing effectively on the same team. If Milton Bradley demonstrates that he can't funtion with people he doesn't like, particularly when the person he doesn't like is the most productive offensive player on the team, then he's not going to have much of a career.

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