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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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The Long and Winding Road
2007-07-26 09:00
by Jon Weisman

Before Juan Pierre, before J.D. Drew, before Hee Seop Choi, before Jim Tracy, before Paul DePodesta, there was Frank McCourt. The Dodger owner was the original hot-button issue on Dodger Thoughts after reader comments were instituted. From the beginnings of his serious interest in purchasing the team, through the subsequent mass employee turnover below him, McCourt's actions inspired the kind of outcry that ultimately made me avoid writing about him as much as possible, just so I wouldn't have to worry about putting out the flames.

So when McCourt walked into the executive conference room at Dodger Stadium to join senior vice president of communications Camille Johnston and director of public relations Josh Rawitch in meeting the Dodger Thoughts Traveling Players on Saturday, what struck me most was the placidity of the occasion. Certainly, many of us had to be cowed by meeting Dodger authority in the flesh, and cognizant of the fact that we were guests in their home, but it certainly didn't seem as if too many people were still nursing heavy grudges or biting their tongues. Even Rob McMillin, whose motivation for creating his expert blog, 6-4-2, can be traced in part to grave concerns over McCourt, found himself rolling his eyes and biting his tongue, but not exactly spitting bile.

It's a measure of McCourt's success at this particular moment that in a contemporary sports world that seems to seek out controversy, no controversy currently dogs him. At a minimum, the crisis of the new Dodger Stadium parking system has reached a sort of equilibrium (more on that later). The revolving door of employees has stopped spinning. Financial losses under previous ownership have been curtailed. The team is in first place. Of course, there are still goals unattained, but there are no troops marching on Elysian Park.

McCourt has a good amount to be proud of, but how proud should he feel?

McCourt seems to have achieved an appropriate delegation of authority where he leaves personnel decisions to general manager Ned Colletti and other high-level executives, and focuses on the business of the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium as much as anything else. McCourt likes talking baseball, but he has placed his faith in his baseball people to make baseball decisions. He said Saturday that his proudest personnel decision was his hiring of Colletti. Every player transaction passes McCourt's desk for approval – but every transaction gets it.

Further, in contrast to my pronounced initial fears that McCourt was purchasing the Dodgers as an excuse to exploit the stadium property in a massive real-estate deal, he has shown a real commitment to the team and to the ballpark. That commitment to Dodger Stadium has a limit: McCourt himself said 25 years (dating from 2004, I presumed). In 2029, Dodger Stadium will be 67 years old; asking him to commit now to playing in the stadium beyond that would be unreasonable.

In the meantime, McCourt has backed the commitment he has made with actions – real investments in ballpark improvements in a multiphase plan encompassing seating, parking, concessions and amenities. And player payroll does not appear to have been an issue either. If Vladimir Guerrero had been a free agent last winter, the Dodgers would have been in the running to sign him, if not the favorites.

Over the past 3 1/2 years, McCourt has taught me patience. What initially looks grim might not turn out that way. Some screwups can be resolved. Others just don't seem to matter as much as people get used to them.

McCourt, for example, proclaimed the new seating at Dodger Stadium a success, glossing over the poor sightlines in the new field-level seats after they were put in. Still, it's true that after a re-do, few complain now.

He proclaimed the new parking system at Dodger Stadium a success. And it's true that for a non-sellout game, you get in and out of the stadium as fast as or faster than you did a year ago, though at a higher cost - and even McCourt conceded Saturday that at a sellout, there's still no avoiding traffic. Nevertheless, that's another crisis off the radar.

It's all something I will keep in mind as I contemplate the inevitable problems that will accompany the next phase of stadium improvements: food concessions and restrooms.

The Dodgers are literally digging into the Chavez Ravine hillside to make more room for their food operations, thus allowing, for example, every level to cook its own hot dogs, rather than rely on an elevator shuttle system. There's no reason to believe that the food setup won't look better and have all the potential for functioning better.

But after McCourt left us, when I asked Johnston whether anything would be done to spur the concessionaires to move faster, the answer was essentially that it was out of the Dodgers' hands. The food workers are not Dodger Stadium employees, and the Dodgers don't control them.

What that leaves you with is a 2008 automobile … that is being driven by my grandmother. Now, my grandmother was a fine driver in her day, but now, thankfully, she knows she doesn't belong behind the wheel. No set of facility improvements is going to make up for the fact that if people aren't doing their job in an expert manner, if they can't even fake enthusiasm for their work, if they aren't capable of acting with speed, there isn't going to be sufficient progress. We'll have to wait.

Similarly, the next Dodger radio contract might present something of a no-win situation – either stay with KFWB, which is limited in how much Dodger programming it can provide, or go to another station where the Dodgers might not be top priority either. We'll have to make do.

If it sounds as if I've surrendered to the McCourt charms, however, I wouldn't go that far.

If the overriding lesson I've learned during the McCourt ownership is that even though he breaks a lot of eggs, he ends up with a decent omelet – well, there are still all those broken eggs to consider. As McCourt talked about how he felt he had all the right people working under him, I couldn't help but think about former announcer Ross Porter and the many other valuable employees who were cast aside gracelessly. As McCourt praised the on-field product, I couldn't help but wonder about how the franchise today assesses its strengths and weakness.

Clearly, a full-scale fan outcry isn't lost on McCourt, whether in regards to stadium parking or another incident in which he delivered his biggest mea culpa Saturday: taking the names off the back of Dodger uniforms before the 2005 season. But questions remain about how well McCourt can see problems on the horizon and whether he is any better at preventing them from snowballing than he was in the fall of 2005, when the Tracy-DePodesta conflicts sullied the franchise on the field and off.

For example: Whether it's due to Colletti, assistant general manager/scouting Logan White or underrated vice president/assistant general manager Kim Ng, the Dodgers have a pennant contender. That doesn't mean that the team hasn't made mistakes in the personnel department. Every team makes mistakes, of course, and no one expects perfection. But what kind of system do the Dodgers have in place to evaluate their personnel decisions and determine which transactions went south because of bad luck and which because of faulty - but improvable - reasoning?

This is a question I wanted to ask at the session, but unfortunately, I held off. Even if I had asked it, however, I don't know how meaningful an answer I would have gotten, because McCourt is not the type to do a lot of public introspection when things are going well.

Wins and losses are what matter in the end for a baseball team, but wins and losses aren't the best indicator of whether a general manager is doing the best job possible. When McCourt tells me that he has complete faith in Colletti, does that imply he believes Colletti will know how to improve his performance from the B or whatever grade he merits? Or does it imply that he thinks Colletti deserves an A? This is all immediately pertinent with Tuesday's trading deadline testing Colletti's judgment anew.

I no longer worry that the Dodgers are a franchise in peril, and that's important. I believe that McCourt has the best intentions, and that's important too. The next steps for me are to see whether the Dodgers can achieve their goals with more efficiency, and how McCourt will react when the next Dodger crisis comes. Having McCourt meet with us was personally gratifying, but it shed little light on those remaining questions. We'll have to see what comes next.

And now, I guess, the flames have been fanned.

Comments (172)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-07-26 11:35:13
1.   bigcpa
Well thought out post Jon. Wish I could have been there.

Old post down bottom:

Who is the more valuable commodity today, Braun or Kemp? LaRoche has now compiled the same # of minor league ab's as Kemp (granted a year older at each level).

.294/.374/.521 LaRoche (29 HR per 550 ab)
.310/.358/.518 Kemp (21 HR per 550 ab)

Even if LaRoche projects a 25-28 HR guy and Kemp is a 32-35 HR guy, LaRoche should be more valuable. And Kemp is the better sell high candidate. Heresy I know.

2007-07-26 11:35:13
2.   bryanf
Incredible write-up Jon. You really captured the essence of our meeting with him and, as always, put things nicely into perspective.

I would add only that while McCourt was candid about focusing on making the team profitable rather than losing money, he must have used the word "fans" in every answer he gave us and usually multiple times (even when discussing statues) and in that regard you are right about his good intentions. He also may best be served by letting the baseball people do the baseball stuff. Regardless of what anybody thinks of Colletti, there are a good amount of good baseball people in the Dodger organization at the moment. (Ng, Logan White, etc.)

2007-07-26 11:36:38
3.   Benaiah
It is nice to see that McCourt isn't one of those Jeffery Loria type owner that uses the team as a chip to make money. There is a feeling of helplessness to a situation like that, as though your affection for the home team is being held hostage for a king's ransom. On the other hand, I wonder if we will ever understand why Depodesta was only given 2 seasons to try and improve the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, the 2007 Dodgers are facing 2005 type injuries, lets hope it works out better this time.

2007-07-26 11:37:47
4.   SG6
My question for Frank would be whether he still considers "The McCourts" to be the brand, and "The Dodgers" to be the product. That comment irked me more than perhaps any physical thing he did with Dodgers.

Also, regarding concessions, didn't Dodger Stadium use to have a "buffet" type of food line? I recall walking thru and grabbing my hot dog of choice, other bits, and sodas, then at the end, getting rung up at the cashier. I realize that alchohol has to be poured by someone, but for the food part, this would seem a fast way to go - grab your own from a bin, rather than having a slow, slow server getting all the pieces for you.

2007-07-26 11:37:57
5.   Xeifrank
634 (from last thread Jon). haha!
vr, Xei
2007-07-26 11:38:18
6.   Greg Brock
Great work, Jon. This one is in my pantheon of favorites.
2007-07-26 11:38:54
7.   Jon Weisman
4 - Yes, I've often talked about how the buffet line is better.
2007-07-26 11:39:45
8.   Jon Weisman
7 - Carl's Jr. has a psuedo-buffet line, but there's so little space that it doesn't quite have a chance to thrive.
2007-07-26 11:41:07
9.   Jon Weisman
6 - Are you going to let people read your double-secret DT Day recap?
2007-07-26 11:42:36
10.   Greg Brock
9 I don't know. Honestly.
2007-07-26 11:43:30
11.   bigcpa
4 The buffet line still exists at Aisle 143 for instance- the only place you can get the garlic fries. But the 87 year old cashiers are still a bottleneck.

What would absolutely fly would be self-ordering and electronic payment via kiosk. Then you go watch the game from the white line zone waiting for your number to be called.

2007-07-26 11:44:11
12.   Curtis Lowe
I enjoyed your write up Jon, that was really a fair assesment of McCourt.
2007-07-26 11:50:26
13.   CajunDodger
I have got to believe that, when the almighty dollar is involved, there will be improvements to the food line situation next year.

The Dodgers and Aramark have to opportunity to make a lot more money in concessions if the design is correct. I arrive early for games, stand in line 15-20 minutes for my dog and then I do not venture out again until the 6th inning. I would spend a lot more money if I was assured of 5 minutes or less in line.

2007-07-26 11:52:39
14.   Vishal
i more or less agree with you, jon. mccourt's tenure has been a mixed bag. he's not as bad as we thought, but he's certainly got his flaws.
2007-07-26 11:52:47
15.   scareduck
"McCourt is not the type to do introspection."


2007-07-26 11:53:11
16.   bryanf
13 I think Aramark is old. Isn't it Levy now?
2007-07-26 11:54:04
17.   scareduck
4 - absolutely agreed. I thought that was the height of hubris considering the questions that surrounded their entry into town, picking up the Dodgers like a piece of trash on the side of the road.
2007-07-26 11:55:18
18.   Jon Weisman
15 - That's a correct correction as far as assigning himself blame, I suspect. My point is more of whether he forces an organizational introspection.
2007-07-26 11:55:44
19.   SG6
8 - Thanks, I do recall that Carl's has the mini-buffet line. It seems to be the most efficient system.

11 - How about installing an electronic ordering system with credit card swipe in every seat. When your order is ready, Alyssa Milano brings it to you.

2007-07-26 11:57:29
20.   Xeifrank
Looks like McCourt has stabalized the organization. I am more concerned about the job that Ned does than Frank does at this point. McCourt sounds like a great PR guy. Was/Is probably a good business guy/salesperson. That was great that he met with you all, and I think it shows that Jon's DT community is a powerful little fan focus group (not sure how to say it).
vr, Xei
2007-07-26 11:59:36
21.   Greg Brock
20 I would actually say that McCourt has been a terrible PR guy, which is really his problem.

He's great at retail politics, and stinks at wholesale politics.

2007-07-26 12:03:48
22.   Disabled List
My biggest worry about McCourt was that wasn't going to be able to afford the payroll that a large-market franchise like the Dodgers deserves. I was envisioning a team that would be run on the cheap and out of contention for elite free agents. So far, so good.

The size of the payroll only matters as it pertains to signing free agents and retaining your own talent. Last year, the Dodgers were players in the FA market, signing big-money talent like Jason Schmidt and, uh, Juan Pierre. In a few years, when Martin and Loney and the rest of the kids become eligible for their big paydays, and then we'll see how committed McCourt really is, especially after Arte Moreno opens up his checkbook for A-Rod this coming offseason.

It still doesn't take the sting out of losing Vladimir Guerrero. I really think that non-signing is the difference right now between the Dodgers being a good team, and an elite team. McCourt is a work in progress; I'm content with what I've seen so far, but the jury's still out.

2007-07-26 12:04:28
23.   ToyCannon
Come on Greg, we can take being skewered. If you wrote it, it has to be funny.
2007-07-26 12:06:21
24.   Xeifrank
21. Ok, perhaps PR guy was a bad term. How about good at speaking in front of small audiences of people. :)
vr, Xei
2007-07-26 12:06:32
25.   Greg Brock
23 It's not that. I wouldn't skewer you guys for all the tea in China (can we still say that?).

It's that it was just stream of consciousness blather. And not very good.

2007-07-26 12:07:10
26.   Dodgers49
>>> Martin hurting

Dodgers catcher Russell Martin insisted the lower back discomfort that has plagued him for the past few days and knocked him out of Tuesday night's game in the eighth inning is nothing more than the usual wear and tear that catchers deal with during a long season. But Little admitted on Wednesday that it has limited Martin's lateral movement behind the plate, something that might have contributed to a wild pitch by Mark Hendrickson earlier in that game on a ball Martin normally would have blocked.

"It is (affecting him) a little bit, but he is a battler," Little said. <<<

2007-07-26 12:08:53
27.   bhsportsguy
21 I couldn't figure out how to ask the question, "Mr. McCourt, okay Frank, do you think it is best to be in the background as an owner or out in front?"

Because I do think that he tried to be out front early on, some because he was trying to introduce himself to the Southern California area and second perhaps part of that "brand" thing.

Now, he tends to limit his public appearances to being on-air with Vinny, Dodger Foundation events and probably events like the one he did on Saturday. You don't hear him interviewed very often anymore and I think it was part of the appeal of Ned, Ned is out there more often, you can probably hear him on local radio at least once a month. And as I have said before, Grady just cracks me up.

Anyways, good write up Jon, I think you capture the feelings well, lets hope his kids don't grow up to be Busses.

2007-07-26 12:13:32
28.   trainwreck
But forget resting him, because that would just be insane, even though Martin is struggling badly at the plate.
2007-07-26 12:15:35
29.   Jon Weisman
24 - Honestly, he'd get about a B or a C. His answers were long and not entirely satisfactory, and he didn't respond well to ad-libbed remarks even though they were good-natured.

I'm guessing one-on-one is where he shines.

25 - It was good - you're making too big a deal out of it - but it's up to you.

2007-07-26 12:18:01
30.   schoffle
They do have a dodger dog buffet line on field level behind home plate (unless it changed this year), however, it does not operate very smoothly for several reasons. The main problems seem to be:

1.A limit of three cashiers (often less) who don't seem to be in any particular rush
2.The people in line who seem confused when trying to decide what to get when they get to the counter (plus the fact that they often bring all there kids with them who also need to discuss their options)
3.The long wait for beer to be poured
4.The people waiting for items that are not ready (i.e. nachos, or a particular type of dodger dog).

Just improving the cashiers and removing the beer would make a big difference.

2007-07-26 12:20:13
31.   Greg Brock
29 It's easier for some people to share their writing than others, but you're right. Grow up, me.

2007-07-26 12:22:37
32.   Greg Brock
Dmitri Young is close to an extension with the Nationals. Talk about a life turnaround. I wonder what Sam thinks of it all.

Off to the beach.

2007-07-26 12:27:22
33.   trainwreck
So what is your real first name?
2007-07-26 12:33:15
34.   Linkmeister
I left a Harry Potter comment at the bottom of the last thread, for those interested.
2007-07-26 12:34:25
35.   Disabled List
Luis Gonzalez and Juan Pierre are the subjects of a photoshop thread on Fark. I like the slap-fight one and the Kool-Aid one:

2007-07-26 12:36:04
36.   Linkmeister
Brock, that was just fine. Stream of consciousness is a perfectly good form of writing. ;)
2007-07-26 12:36:34
37.   Sushirabbit
Jon, good post, really interesting to me that he came and talked with you all. It does seem like much of what has been a general consensus here has ended up happening with the team-- although later than many would have liked. There's only the one deal that I can't come to grips with ( JD Drew! >:( )

Greg, guitar from like 8-22, Piano strewn in there but never proficient. Read music pretty well in Jazz band. Really can't play at all now. Also, whenever I hear that new Real Men of Genius commercial, where the guy falsetto's "That's 10,000 dimes!" I laugh and think of you and the other rapiers of wit around DT.

2007-07-26 12:37:03
38.   BlueCrew Bruin
31 Hey, that was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Wish I could have been there. Thanks for posting it.

Thanks to Jon for the McCourt writeup, also. Wow, when you started DT did you ever imagine it would grow to such a level that it would garner an audience with Dodger brass? Amazingly cool.

2007-07-26 12:38:46
39.   Daniel Zappala
Thanks for that writeup, Brock. If I ever get to attend one of these DT days, you need to be there. Keep attending and keep writing.
2007-07-26 12:39:17
40.   das411
Just wanted to respond to the Linebrink discussion in the last thread, before I go read up top...does anyone else think this may be the Brewers' attempt at making a pickup like Ugueth Urbina was to the Marlins in '03? A team that's contending for the first time in how many years, can never have too many reliable bullpen arms...and while the prospects may come back to hurt them later (Adrian Gonzalez would look nice in that lineup right now), the boost they get this season, topped off with draft picks, just might make that deal one worth making...
2007-07-26 12:39:33
41.   trainwreck
That thread is so awesome.
2007-07-26 12:39:38
42.   still bevens
35 The Jack Ruby one takes the cake.
2007-07-26 12:45:12
43.   silverwidow
Sounds like Wolf is ready to go. He is pain-free after last night.

2007-07-26 12:46:14
44.   silverwidow
43-Make that, pain-free during the outing.
2007-07-26 12:50:53
45.   Sushirabbit
40, and Turnbow has been very, well, unpredictable : sometimes really great but sometimes falling off the cliff. I think he's too prone to the HR.
2007-07-26 12:54:10
46.   Sushirabbit
37, ack, self-referencing, but wanted to clarify that JD Drew's opt out wasn't what I can't come to grips with, just the CF that we probably got at least partly as a result of the opt out.
2007-07-26 12:55:10
47.   Eric Stephen
Brock, you are too kind. I'm actually quite cold and calculating. I run a kennel with Michael Vick in my spare time.

Nice write up, by the way. I had Philippe's for the first time ever last September, one day before 4+1. I'm still kicking myself for not purchasing some horseradish mustard.

2007-07-26 12:56:31
48.   Marty
I always have at least two jars of the mustard in my fridge.
2007-07-26 12:56:38
49.   scareduck
35 - that definitely has a All Your Base Are Belong To Us flavor to it ...
2007-07-26 13:14:49
50.   dkminnick
Jon and Greg - Excellent accounts of DT Day - thanks for taking the time to commit them to record.

I'm heading out to wine country and then into Mordor itself (SF) so I'll have limited access to DT and the games this weekend. Keep an eye on things for me, okay? Make sure Ned doesn't trade Hu (et al).

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-07-26 13:19:54
51.   GobiasIndustries
I'm heading out to wine country and then into Mordor itself (SF)

That's too funny!

2007-07-26 13:19:59
52.   fan 4 40 plus
Make sure Ned doesn't trade who?
2007-07-26 13:21:15
53.   trainwreck
Wow, very sad news to report. Wake Forest head basketball coach Skip Prosser collapsed and died while jogging. Skip was accumulating his greatest recruiting class ever too. Very sad.
2007-07-26 13:22:11
54.   Summer Saint

Make sure he doesn't trade Watt.

2007-07-26 13:29:26
55.   Marty
50 Wine country Napa, or wine country Paso Robles?
2007-07-26 13:34:40
56.   jasonungar07
Greg that was a real nice write up. Don't be shy..
2007-07-26 13:36:49
57.   dkminnick
55 - Santa Ynez, Paso, and my first exploration into Monterey and the Santa Lucia Higlands - all in my NEW CAR.
2007-07-26 13:37:37
58.   dkminnick
57 - "Highlands", obviously
2007-07-26 13:44:41
59.   Marty
57 Sounds fun. I like Adelaida, Eberle, Le Cuvier and San Marcos Creek in the Paso area.
2007-07-26 13:53:24
60.   dkminnick
59 - Noted. I know Eberle - I'll try to get to the other two. Thanks.

Rio Seco Winery (east of 101) is owned by a Major League scout who is just great. I forget his name right now, but he works for the Brewers, I think. Last time up, I sat there and discussed sabermetrics vs. traditional scouting with him for more than an hour. Great wine, too.

2007-07-26 14:09:20
61.   Xeifrank
This is a real crucial series for the Rockies. Sure, it's big for the Dodgers too but the Rockies can put themselves right up there with the front runners with a sweep or fall out of contention by getting swept. The Rockies get the Dodgers at possibly a very weak moment depending on the health of Saito and the insertion of Tomko and Hendrickson into the lineup. At the very least the Rockies need to take three out of four. A split won't put them out of contention, but with three teams to leap frog it won't help.
vr, Xei
2007-07-26 14:19:56
62.   Eric Stephen
As a Dodger, Brad Penny is 8-1 vs. the Rockies, with a 2.97 ERA. The Dodgers are 10-1 in his 11 starts vs. Colorado, including 5-0 at Coors Field with a 3.33 ERA.

The Dodgers are 16-4 in Penny's 20 starts this season, and Penny has given up 0 or 1 run in 14 of the 20 starts. Tall Chris Young (tip o' the cap to Bob) has given up one run or fewer in 13 starts this season. Peavy and Hudson have done so in 10 games, and Lowe and some others have done so in 9 games.

2007-07-26 14:23:51
63.   jasonungar07
"As anyone can plainly see, I'm 5-6 1/2 and a strapping 150, and unlike some people, I came by all of it naturally," Costas said Thursday

that's pretty funny.

2007-07-26 14:26:09
64.   das411
Told ya Sam DC :(

54 - I don't know? THIRD BASE!!

2007-07-26 14:26:59
65.   bryanf
GB, great play-by-play of the DT Day events. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you but you were admired from afar. Like Jon said, next time.

Charlie Brown. Jon Weisman. Good men.

2007-07-26 14:29:32
66.   Bumsrap
We will get another peak at what McCourt/Colletti tend to do as the trading deadline approaches.
2007-07-26 14:29:42
67.   Jon Weisman
James Loney interview:

2007-07-26 14:31:40
68.   Daniel Zappala
Things are getting bad. I saw the first part of the headline on : "Dodgers send Penny to ... " and about had a heart attack before I read "open vs Colorado".
2007-07-26 14:32:05
69.   jasonungar07

Red Sox signed outfielder Brady Clark to a minor league contract.

Clark will report to Triple-A Pawtucket for now and join the Red Sox if Wily Mo Pena is traded.

(from rotowire)

2007-07-26 14:38:03
70.   ToyCannon
I'd like to see Wily Mo get 500 ab's so I hope he's traded and traded to a team that has an opening in the outfield.

If anyone wants to win Laker FJ Cruiser here is your chance.

2007-07-26 14:41:19
71.   CanuckDodger
Has anybody checked out "The Mill" at BP? Today John Perrotto wrote "The Dodgers want to add pitching..." Today, a few inches below Perrotto's entry, Will Carroll wrote "The Dodgers aren't shifting their view to starting pitching despite injuries to Derek Lowe and Randy Wolf. Instead, they're still focused on offense..." The two claims directly contradict each other. Carroll also says the Dodgers are interested in Adam Dunn -- but not as Plan A, or even Plan B. I am starting to wish someone would inflict grave bodily violence on this Will Carroll chap.
2007-07-26 14:41:42
72.   bigcpa
68 That is awesome. For some reason reminds me of the Simpsons where Homer has the heart attack in Burns' office.

[a "window" shows Homer's heart, beating fast]
Burns: Relax, Simpson. I just brought you in here for a friendly hello...
Homer: Whew...[heart slows down]
Burns: ...and goodbye! You're fired!
Homer: [gags] [heart speeds up]
Burns: But, wait. Perhaps I'm being too hasty. You are highly skilled...
Homer: Whew...[heart slows down]
Burns: goofing off!
Homer: Aaargh! [heart beats faster]
Burns: Now don't worry, Homer. You're the kind of guy I could really dig...
Homer: Whew...[heart slows down]
Burns: ...a grave for
Homer: Aarrggghh! [heart goes crazy] [collapses]
Smithers: [examines Homer's dead body]
Mr. Burns, I think he's dead.
Burns: Oh dear. Send a ham to his widow.

2007-07-26 14:48:35
73.   ToyCannon
Classic, can't wait for Simpson Talk.
2007-07-26 14:53:33
74.   underdog
I started a Simpsons movie talk, er, blog entry, really if anyone wants to drop by. Let me know if you blog about it and feel like sharing.

2007-07-26 14:54:26
75.   Dodger Jack
I don't know if this has been discussed here yet, but what about trading for Teixeira as a third baseman? Do I remember correctly that he came up to the Rangers as a third sacker? I wonder if he has the defensive skills to play third again?
2007-07-26 14:54:54
76.   Hallux Valgus
I just got back from The Simpsons Movie. It was extremely funny. The first 10 minutes are as funny as anything as I've seen in a long time. After that, I laughed consistently, but it lacked the big belly laughs of the beginning. The plot was negligible, but it kept moving for the duration. Make sure you stay through the credits for some added jokes
2007-07-26 14:57:16
77.   fan 4 40 plus
There was a interview with Simpson's creator Matt Groening on NPR this morning
2007-07-26 14:57:50
78.   bojangles
71. Will Carroll lost me years ago when, flush with the cash that flows when you're selling pseudo-drugs (ersatz baseball info), he decided to do page after self-absorbed page on his first new car purchase.
The occasional sitings of gross mis-info and/or contradictions are not surprising.

Jon: Nice opener, as customary.
There's a disturbing trend in all American letters these days, sports-writing in particular, Daily Racing Form the worst, to keep naming the subject, and naming the subject, and naming the subject....with innocent, unemployed pronouns and synonyms left in the begging line.

2007-07-26 14:58:23
79.   Eric Stephen
75 I'd say Teixeira's chances of playing 3rd base are about as likely as Jim Thome's (who also came up at 3rd).
2007-07-26 14:58:45
80.   underdog
71 I thought we decided yesterday that Will Carroll doesn't exist. I'm sticking with that one.

69 Still surprised the Mets didn't sign Brady Clark.

2007-07-26 14:59:20
81.   Marty
This is for Brock:

2007-07-26 15:00:19
82.   trainwreck
How is everyone seeing the Simpsons movie early?
2007-07-26 15:00:43
83.   Hallux Valgus
82 I work at Fox.
2007-07-26 15:02:13
84.   underdog
83 Dude! you should add a disclaimer to your comments on the Daily, then. ;-) Well, anyway, I approved them. (I'm seeing it tomorrow night.)
2007-07-26 15:03:17
85.   Hallux Valgus
84 Ha! You're probably right, but I actually had pretty low expectations. The 10 minutes I saw a few weeks ago was about the worst 10 minutes in the movie.
2007-07-26 15:03:23
86.   bigcpa
83 You mean to say... "I work at Fox, nanee nanee."
2007-07-26 15:06:16
87.   das411
Bad bad bad break for the Phils today (Chase Utley, likely MVP, out for at least 15 days with a broken hand)...but Sam DC, I guess John Lannan did make a mark on this year's pennant race...

79 - Ooooh, and didn't another #25 who hit a few homers in his day, start off playing 3B?

2007-07-26 15:07:29
88.   Eric Stephen
Looking at Teixeira, I can't shake the fact that his career road numbers are .265/.359/.492. That's fine and all, but it doesn't seem like something you'd give up a lot for nor pay top dollar for.

I'm not trying to say Teixeira is a figment of The Ballpark at Arlington -- after all, players should perform better at home just based on familiarity -- but it seems the difference between his home numbers (.302/.378/.576 career) and road numbers are large.

2007-07-26 15:08:23
89.   Jon Weisman
I created a Simpsons thread two days ago that went ignored at Screen Jam. Feel free to populate it.
2007-07-26 15:09:29
90.   bearlurker
Great writeup Jon and thanks for mentioning Ross, which along with his treatment of other long time employees is by far my biggest complaint about Frank M.

Don't forget Anderson Valley wine country. A very large percentage of the wines made in Napa and Sonoma counties come from the Anderson Valley, which remains fairly uncrowded (probably not a word).

2007-07-26 15:09:50
91.   thinkblue0
88 -

completely agree. He's definitely a good player, but whatever team gives him 100 mill is really going to regret it.

2007-07-26 15:10:08
92.   bearlurker
I forgot, how do you link to previous posts?
2007-07-26 15:11:56
93.   Eric Stephen
92 You use brackets...[ 92 ] (only without the spaces).
2007-07-26 15:13:14
94.   bryanf
Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Martin, C
Gonzo, LF
Nomar, 3B
Loney, 1B
Betemit, 2B
Kemp, RF
2007-07-26 15:14:10
95.   still bevens
88 No better example being Kenny Lofton and his 7 home runs this year.
2007-07-26 15:14:19
96.   bearlurker
93 Thanks Eric.
2007-07-26 15:17:44
97.   Xeifrank
94. Betemit starting at 2B? Wow, tip of the ole hat to Grady for finally seeing the light. vr, Xei
2007-07-26 15:20:15
98.   ToyCannon
I've wanted to see if Betemit can play 2nd but man is Kent hot. Hate to see him not playing.
2007-07-26 15:21:08
99.   bryanf
97 Well, I agree it's good that he's starting Betemit, but wouldn't we be better off with Kent in the lineup rather than Nomar?
2007-07-26 15:21:16
100.   Eric Stephen
88,91 Upon further review, Teixeira's rookie year (2003) kind of skews his splits a bit. From 2004-2007, Tex has hit .276/.372/.528 away from Arlington, much better than his career away line.

In his rookie year of 2003, here are Tex's splits:
Home - .298/.358/.607
Road - .217/.303/.343

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2007-07-26 15:21:55
101.   ToyCannon
Everyone said that about Soriano when he was in Arlington but yet he went to a much harder park and smoked his Texas numbers.
2007-07-26 15:23:30
102.   Xeifrank
99. Well now, let's not get too greedy. We have to crawl before we walk. :) I think it's more a matter of Kent just getting a day off to rest, and who would you rather have at 2B,... R.Martinez or Betemit?
vr, Xei
2007-07-26 15:24:14
103.   underdog
99 Yes, we would. Though Kent needs a rest. I'm sure he'll play the rest of the series after today. I'm rooting for Wilson to do something tonight!

89 Just posted over there...

2007-07-26 15:24:43
104.   Xeifrank
Aren't Teixeira's 2007 splits pretty even? Or would you consider 1/2+ year to be too small of a sample size?
vr, Xei
2007-07-26 15:26:27
105.   wronghanded
Does anyone here have an update on D-Lo's condition yet?
2007-07-26 15:29:31
106.   bryanf
105 ItD reports "...still no word on Derek's MRI..."
2007-07-26 15:30:11
107.   bigcpa
July 26, 2008 per ITD

Furcal, SS
Martin, C
Loney, 1B
Dunn, LF
Kemp, RF
Betemit, 2B
LaRoche, 3B
Pierre, CF

2007-07-26 15:30:29
108.   BlueCrew Bruin
94 I know this horse is approaching George A. Romero territory at this point but this really does seem like a good time (if there is such a thing) to have Martin sit for a couple of days. Isn't he close to leading all of baseball in innings caught?
2007-07-26 15:33:33
109.   underdog
108 Heh. Zombie-horses. I may have to write that screenplay. Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing. I know the Dodgers' pitchers love having Russell Martin in there, and it's always a bummer when he's not in there, but we have a really capable backup catcher and Martin is not 100%. I don't get playing him again today. I'm sure he'll get one of the next two days after this off, though.
2007-07-26 15:35:45
110.   trainwreck
Frankly, Martin is not playing that well right now. So it makes even less sense to not give him some rest.
2007-07-26 15:39:52
111.   bryanf
108,110 If you don't read SoSG regularly, check it out. They agree with you.

2007-07-26 15:41:41
112.   Daniel Zappala
A growing problem I have with DT: you guys are far too rational so that I am frequently left with nothing new to say. Yes, Martin should sit since he is hurting and not producing right now. We really need Lowe to not be hurt badly and for Wolf to come back. Please don't trade any of our top prospects. Play Kemp or Ethier in CF at least once or twice a week in place of Pierre. What else am I supposed to say?
2007-07-26 15:44:21
113.   fanerman
112 That's why all I've really said today had to do with Harry Potter.
2007-07-26 15:48:46
114.   Robert Daeley
113 That Potter needs a break -- he's been playing seven straight books. ;)
2007-07-26 15:49:56
115.   trainwreck
Way to bring the team down Alyssa.
2007-07-26 15:50:06
116.   Eric Stephen
107 A man can dream! So who did the Dodgers package with Ethier to land Dunn?
2007-07-26 15:51:37
117.   fanerman
107 If I were dreaming, I wouldn't have Pierre in the starting line-up.
2007-07-26 15:55:36
118.   Eric Stephen
107 Does this also mean that Jeff Kent retired after winning World Series MVP, forgoing his $9m option that kicked in with his 594 PA in 2007?
2007-07-26 15:55:58
119.   trainwreck
With A-Rod at SS.
2007-07-26 15:56:28
120.   bigcpa
116 We'll know by Monday! Bwwaahahaha.
2007-07-26 15:57:35
121.   Jon Weisman
112 - Yeah, I mean, the resting Martin talk is about as dead a horse as there is.

Can't accuse Grady of being conventional on this one.

2007-07-26 15:59:57
122.   Eric Stephen
120 I like your style: not only predicting the trade for Dunn, but also that the trade would happen at least one day before the trading deadline!

It fits though. Dodgers are off Monday, just as they were when they acquired Betemit last year.

2007-07-26 16:00:18
123.   bigcpa
118 He has nothing left to accomplish after the 500 foot HR yesterday. The most ridiculous thing about that lineup is the oldest guy is 30.
2007-07-26 16:02:27
124.   bigcpa
122 The LoDuca trade was July 30 too. I hope Ethier doesn't cry too much. No one likes going from first to the cellar but hey, it's a business.
2007-07-26 16:07:13
125.   scooplew
57 The best place to catch nearly all the baseball games in Monterey is the sports bar, Knuckles, at the Hyatt Monterey. A second choice is Characters in the Marriott downtown. Neither of those bars has great food. Recommend the Rio Grill in the Crossroads, near the mouth of Carmel Valley, or Montrio in downtown Monterey -- real near Characters -- for dinner. Both are fun places. Have a great time...a Carmel Valley resident.
2007-07-26 16:11:23
126.   trainwreck
Ned going after Dunn is about as likely as Bob having a Frank Robinson Appreciation Day at the Griddle.
2007-07-26 16:14:16
127.   Sam DC
Das - just checking in. What a mad game Jesus Flores has been my favoritwe National all season, so I'm happy about that. What a nightmare about Utley.

Signing Dmitri Young to a 2 year extension for $4 million - fine. But I can't fathom the rumors that he'd get $10 to $12 mil.

2007-07-26 16:23:25
128.   Bluebleeder87

it ain't gonna happen right.

2007-07-26 16:24:01
129.   bigcpa
It just occured to me that Ethier wears LoDuca's number. He is so gone!
2007-07-26 16:24:48
130.   Jon Weisman
125 - The Wagon Wheel for breakfast!
2007-07-26 16:29:33
131.   underdog
Hm, Lucas May now has 20 homers for Inland Empire.
2007-07-26 16:30:11
132.   Curtis Lowe
131 - Who is this Lucas May you type of?
2007-07-26 16:31:15
133.   Jon Weisman
College football update: Stanford picked to finish in Pac-10 top 10.,1,3353814.story?

2007-07-26 16:32:13
134.   natepurcell

He was converted to catcher this offseason. he's always had power but he strikes out alot and doesn't walk enough.

2007-07-26 16:33:50
135.   Curtis Lowe
134 - How old is he?
2007-07-26 16:33:51
136.   underdog
132 Former OF prospect converted to catcher, plays for Dodgers' A affiliate in Inland Empire.
2007-07-26 16:34:30
137.   underdog
Or what Nate said. He's 22, 23 in October.
2007-07-26 16:36:22
138.   jujibee
Greg Miller

Future starter, reliever or closer???

I wish the Dodgers would decide. His stats at Jacksonville thus far are pretty impressive except for his walk totals. I can't remeber where, but I read that he's throwing the ball quite well again as far as velocity goes, but has had issues controlling some off his off-speed stuff along with some eratic fastballs that "slip" out from time to time. I hope he gets back into pre-injury form.

2007-07-26 16:37:50
139.   silverwidow
Still no blog update from TJ. I think something (bad) is up with Lowe.
2007-07-26 16:39:19
140.   trainwreck
I miss the 5 o'clock start time.
2007-07-26 16:41:12
141.   Daniel Zappala
133 I desperately want Harbaugh to succeed
2007-07-26 16:43:24
142.   trainwreck
I think Harbaugh will succeed, just maybe not this year. He has already made a huge difference in recruiting. So many recruits are mentioning Stanford once again.
2007-07-26 16:44:20
143.   das411
127 - Flores looks like a solid young hitter, so long as Mike Zagurski is on the mound. Did your broadcasters show Zags in the dugout after, when he looked like he was about to cry, and Old Man Moyer was sitting right there next to him trying to cheer him up?

And for everybody else: Is it too late to start any Burrell-for-Betemit rumors? Maybe Michael Bourn, who is Juan Pierre but with one homer on the year and some $40m cheaper?

2007-07-26 16:47:19
144.   trainwreck
Burrell has less of a chance then Adam Dunn of becoming a Dodger.
2007-07-26 16:47:32
145.   scooplew
57 130 the Wagon Wheel is, in fact, a great choice for breakfast. It is on Carmel Valley Road, a few miles east of Highway 1. However, it is a small place and gets very busy on the weekends. Didn't Yogi Berra once say about a restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
If you really want a fantastic Sunday brunch, go to the Mission Ranch near, natch, the Carmel Mission, and sit out on the patio (unless it is cold and dripping). It's not cheap, but you won't need to eat again for hours.
2007-07-26 16:51:17
146.   El Lay Dave
Jon, nice take on McCourt and the session DT had with him. In the end, he was as we should have expected a person who has accomplished enough to be in the position he's in today to be. I wonder if it is fair to infer from his comments on Ned Colletti being his best decision and the - almost obiligatory - comments on organizational alignment that he had difficulties in seeing eye-to-eye with DePodesta, or in interacting with him?

Greg Brock, well captured write up on DT day from the perpective of the expert commentor. Worth the read, and it brought back the recent pleasant memories - thanks.

2007-07-26 16:52:53
147.   Bluebleeder87
Watching the Braves @ Giants, they have everything set up with banners everywhere the whole 9 yards. When i was a little kid i thought who ever broke 755 would be idolized by everybody instead it's Berry Bonds breaking it & it just doesn't have any meaning at all, what a shame.
2007-07-26 16:53:54
148.   fan 4 40 plus
here's some bad speculation... from Jim Molony at

Dodgers: The Dodgers received bad news regarding their already decimated pitching staff Wednesday, and it looks like GM Ned Colletti will have to make a move come July 31. Starting pitcher Randy Wolf will probably need two more rehab starts after struggling Wednesday at Class A, ... and now, workhorse Derek Lowe appears to be headed to the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin, which forced him out of Wednesday's start.

2007-07-26 16:54:23
149.   FirstMohican
To anyone there, was McCourt asked what his best hire was, or did he offer the info?
2007-07-26 16:56:05
150.   bryanf
149 He was asked. And he answered quickly.
Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2007-07-26 16:56:59
151.   Bluebleeder87

agreed, it was a nice right up he's also a very nice guy i arrived late but happened to be sitting right next to him, really nice guy.

2007-07-26 16:58:01
152.   dkminnick
90, 125 - Thanks, guys! Nothing like recommendations from the locals to make for a great trip.

Now that you mention it, I've been to Knuckles, but years ago and had forgotten it.

I'll try to make it to Anderson Valley - I love the off-the-beaten-path destinations. Good info.

Unfortunately, work kept me from leaving today as planned. I'm with ya one more day.

2007-07-26 16:58:43
153.   Curtis Lowe
Thanks for the info on May.
2007-07-26 16:59:11
154.   Marty
If Lowe goes on the DL, I'm afraid it will force a Drew-like panic move by Ned.
2007-07-26 16:59:17
155.   El Lay Dave
150 Yes. My recollection is that Suffering Bruin ask the question and it was a bit broader, essentially, "what decision are you proudest of?"

There was about a one beat pause, then, "Ned." followed by a lengthy explanation.

2007-07-26 17:02:06
156.   Bluebleeder87

sounds like something is gonna go down reading that fan 4 40 plus. It's weird how something like a strained groin will affect the life/future of others, i hope i'm interpreting that wrong though.

2007-07-26 17:02:32
157.   El Lay Dave
152 I recall passing through Anderson Valley around this time 25 years ago. Two-land highway, nice drive, the road less traveled, Husch Vineyards, tiny tasting room. It was a long time ago.
2007-07-26 17:06:43
158.   Eric Stephen
155 Which answer was quicker, McCourt picking Ned as his best hire, or Lisa picking Marge when asked which parent she could take with her on the rocket to preserve civilization?
2007-07-26 17:09:06
159.   underdog
Well, hopefully no panic moves coming, if Lowe is disabled, especially if Wolf can come back faster than they initially were saying. And since there's still plenty of season left. That said, what should the Dodgers do if Wolf is DL'd? Do you think - short of a panic move - the Dodgers don't need another pitcher? I hate to say it, but I think they do need another starter. I don't want our season to depend on Tomrickson (even if, yes, those two pitched pretty well their last starts).
2007-07-26 17:09:20
160.   underdog
If Lowe is DL'd, I meant above...
2007-07-26 17:11:30
161.   trainwreck
Everyone is shaking in their boots at facing the rotation of Penny, Billingsley, Hendrickson Stults, and Tomko.
2007-07-26 17:11:37
162.   lab rat
Trade Rumor:

Los Angeles, who needs to add depth to their Democratic hopefuls, is looking to acquire Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, who is thought to be a top prospect to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. New York is said to be willing to pick up the entirety of Antonio Villaraigosa's second term.

2007-07-26 17:11:40
163.   Marty
It's not the getting another pitcher part, but the giving up Hu, LaRoche, Kershaw for Ian Snell type panic move I'm afraid of.
2007-07-26 17:12:34
164.   lab rat
The Lipschitz household, with a surplus of condiments is making Goulden's Mustard and Paul Newman's Basalmic Vinegarette available. They are reported to be asking for a high-end brick of cheese.
2007-07-26 17:12:49
165.   underdog
I'd do Hu and Young for Snell in a heartbeat, but yeah, I don't want them to trade LaRoche either.
2007-07-26 17:16:26
166.   Marty
I just afraid we are going from "wants pitching" Ned to "desperate for pitching and will do anything for it" Ned.
2007-07-26 17:17:27
167.   fan 4 40 plus
164 I hope they don't give up the Jarlsberg, .... ummmmmmm Jarlsberg
2007-07-26 17:21:16
168.   El Lay Dave
Nomar is the only Dodger to have seen Lopez anything approaching a significant number of times.

12-32, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 1 K, .375 / .429 / .781 / 1.210

2007-07-26 17:22:27
169.   CanuckDodger
148 -- This is just getting silly. Wolf is two starts away from returning. Lowe at most would be unavailable for two weeks. No team makes a trade to cover THAT short a time span. Ned's hand is not going to be "forced." And the starters available for trade are NOT better than Tomko, Hendrickson, Houlton, and Stults.
2007-07-26 17:24:04
170.   Jon Weisman
New post up top.
2007-07-26 20:34:50
171.   thinkblue0

yup. If someone like, say, Bedard was available then fine. But why trade for someone like Contreras when Stults and Tomko and Houlton are probably equal or better?

2007-07-26 21:24:11
172.   Erin
Maybe someone already said this, but I'll say it again:

The problem with parking at Dodger Stadium is not the amount of cars. It's the complete lack of awareness possessed by a single one of the new workers (you know, the ones we pay $5 extra for each game). They stand around at the end of the game while massive traffic jams occur everywhere (four lanes trying to condense into one, hundreds of cars exiting out the Sunset exit while one or two get out of Lot 1, which is right next to the Sunset exit, every few minutes, etc.).

Perhaps I wouldn't feel so bad about the new situation if I felt like someone was actually out there working to improve it. Instead, I watch all the men and women in yellow vests stand around in groups of five, chatting with each other.

What does Frank McCourt say about that? (I swear I named my blog before I'd ever heard about your site, Jon. Sorry for the similarity)

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