Fire Jim Tracy

Friday, January 21, 2005

Plaschkers

Let it be done.

_____________________

So the Boston Parking Lot Attendant says Thursday, "All the responses I'm getting from fans is that we've done very nicely, and now that there's a clearer picture of what we've done, they are very happy."

You'd have been proud of me. While it's true I chuckled, I didn't fall to the floor doubled over in laughter, yelling, "Please stop, you're killing me."

No content here. You might as well call the Invisible Man ugly.

Instead I asked for Frank McCourt's e-mail address — so I might pass it on to those who feel a little differently and have never gotten the chance to tell him."

The last time I looked at my e-mail I had something like 1,300, so I don't really look at it," McCourt said.

I was curious, so I said, where are you getting these responses from folks "happy" with the team's decision to let Adrian Beltre go, and for that matter, almost everyone else?

Since I haven’t said anything yet, I can basically start with a blank slate. You just told me that the response from the “fans is that we’ve done very nicely, and now that there’s a clearer picture of what we’ve done, they are very happy.” That may or may not be true, but because that point is arguable, I had better change what you just said to “Fans are happy with the team’s decision to let Adrian Beltre go.”

Memo to Simers: Journalism is not changing what people say to fit in with your pre-conceived biases about the world. McCourt said that people were responding to the “clearer picture” of the Dodgers’ off-season, obviously implying that people were responding to the whole complicated mess that has transpired over the last two months. Such moves would include the various iterations of the Green trade, the Drew/Kent/Lowe/Perez/Gagne/Izturis/Valentin signings, letting go of Cora and Lima, re-signing Jim Tracy, and one move out of the dozen that Simers singles out – not signing Beltre. People will assign different levels of importance to any of these moves and balance them to come to a conclusion. I don’t know very many people who, if the question was “Are you happy that Adrian Beltre did not re-sign with the Dodgers?” the answer would be “Yes.” But I know a lot of people who if you ask them “Given the clearer picture of what the team has done, and taking everything into account, are you happy with the Dodgers’ offseason,” the answer would be “Yes.” And if I asked you if this was all evidence of a hack journalist more interested in cheap word games than truth or illumination, you would all say “Yes.”

At this point, a few TV cameramen began to take an interest in our chat, prompting McCourt to make it P.R. clear that he's a really dynamic leader and in touch with the local community.

"I've gotten written letters and phone calls from fans," he said. "And I return every phone call personally."

Yes, whenever, I, the great T.J. Simers, is in a conversation, a bevy of television cameramen snap to attention and can’t help but start filming it.

Imagine the scandal. “McCourt fails to return fans’ phone calls. News at 11.” Idiot.

Well then, I said, I'll pass along the Dodgers' phone number — (323) 224-1500 — just in case there's someone out there who is unhappy with the Dodgers.

Please. It's right here, so stop showboating. Not one person knows the phone number now who couldn't have found it in 30 seconds on the Internet, putting aside the fact that publishing someone's phone number in the Los Angeles Times brings to mind the age-old question about falling trees making sound if no one is around to hear them.

"No problem," he said. "Tell them to ask for Frank."

At this point I probably should have pointed out something to Frank that his wife, the Screaming Meanie, said last year: "This is bad because you guys remember everything and you write everything down."

(Somebody needs to tell me what Jamie McCourt ever did to T.J. Simers. I only took an interest in either of these guys about six months ago after the LoDuca trade...before that I knew they were retarded, but easily ignorable.)

That's (323) 224-1500. I know, I wrote it down.

And ask for Frank. (For laughs, I'd even make it a collect call.)

Let me know how it goes, because as you know, he returns every call personally.

Simers. Why don’t you read your own paper? Because no one else does? Two weeks ago in the L.A. Times letters section:

I am a 28-year Dodger season-ticket holder and during the Yankee-Dodger trade discussions I wrote a letter to Frank McCourt outlining my concerns. Mr. McCourt called me on New Year's Eve and for 26 minutes he bluntly discussed the club strategies, trades and needs. He made a lot of sense and asked for my patience and for me to call him back when the season begins and the team is complete. He has gained my respect and deserves time to prove himself.

Stuart Siegel

Westlake Village

I’m a little disturbed that this guy timed his conversation down to the odd 26th minute, but there’s something.

"The Dodgers called a news conference to announce the signing of Eric Gagne two days after everyone else had announced it, but I still went because I think it's kind of funny, in a reality-TV way, to watch folks blabber on and on about how smart they are when everyone in the room knows they are in over their heads."

Plaschke has this problem too. They both refer to themselves as “everyone.”

I guess McCourt is kind of like my American Idol.

I guess Simers is kind of like The Biggest Loser.

Now they didn't have much more than cookies for the media in the back of the room, so I wasn't surprised that Stu Nahan wasn't in attendance.

Very gracious. And ironic from someone bitter enough about the lack of food for the media that he wasted precious space in the Los Angeles Times whining about it. Tsunami victims notwithstanding.

But most of the local radio and TV stations were represented, and McCourt took the opportunity to tell everyone, "We have a team now with a ton of talent."You'd have been proud of me. I did not fall to the floor doubled over in laughter screaming, "Stop, you're killing me," because General Manager Paul DePodesta was in line to speak next and I wanted to save myself.

We’re not proud of you. Such behavior would have exposed you as the lunatic you are. Please, by all means, start screaming during the next Dodger press conference.

"On paper we're a very good team. But the thing that makes a team win is attitude, and Eric Gagne is all about attitude. He wants to win 162 games a year," McCourt said, and it's a shame, I guess, that everyone else on the Dodgers wants to win only 80 or 90 games or they could really be good.

A reporter criticizing someone for talking about “attitude” is the ultimate example of the pot calling the kettle black. Those who write in cliché have no right to criticize those that feed the beast.

Gagne told the media that he's proud to wear a Dodger uniform, and so the Parking Lot Attendant used that as his mantra in interview after interview: "You heard what Eric said about wearing a Dodger uniform."You and I would be proud to wear a Dodger uniform for the next two years if they guaranteed to pay us $19 million."

SIMERS JUST WROTE TWO DAYS AGO THAT THE DODGERS WERE LIKE THE CLIPPERS AND NOT WILLING TO GIVE THEIR TALENT BIG MONEY CONTRACTS! NOW HE’S WHINING THAT TALENT WITH BIG MONEY CONTRACTS ARE NOTHING BUT MERCENARIES WHO WILL DO ANYTHING FOR A PAYCHECK? WHY WOULD YOU PAY SUCH PEOPLE? MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

See, this is just out-and-out class warfare, and badly done at that. You, lowly peasant, and I, servant of the people, would say anything for money! Are your pitchforks out? I didn't think so.

The nonsense continued with McCourt making the rounds and reminding everyone that until he came (penniless) to Los Angeles, the Dodgers hadn't won a playoff game since 1988 and he was responsible for ending the drought.

How is this nonsense? It’s true. Or if it isn’t, you won’t find Simers telling you why.

McCourt talked about the Dodger family and the chemistry the Dodgers enjoyed last season, and when a reporter said, "Some people would say you blew up that chemistry," the Dodger owner said, "I would respectfully disagree. We had something to do with creating [chemistry] a year ago and will do so again."He might not have any money, but he's certainly not short on ego.

Discussions about “chemistry” are by definition useless. One has to walk a mile in McCourt’s shoes to understand why he has to talk about this. Mainly, it’s because very dumb reporters, looking for writing material, always have to write about chemistry because it is easy to explain and impossible to disprove. Unlike a 1999 endorsement of Darren Dreifort, crediting a team’s “chemistry” for success is a bullet-proof formula to never have to read your articles again. McCourt says he can create “chemistry” because he has to. Can he? Of course not. You might as well create the perpetual motion machine or cold fusion. But Los Angeles sports reporters lap it up.

How about this question at a press conference: "Mr. DePodesta. A few days ago, you told a USA Today reporter that you knew certain things about players that you would never share in public. Why do you feed us local reporters pablum about chemistry and give the good stuff to Rob Neyer and Jon Saraceno?"

I think I would frame the answer. "You ask...I answer."

"It's not like we were talking about a dynasty here," McCourt said. "They hadn't won in 16 years before we came here. Let's just remember we won a playoff game last year."I think I know the answer, but when you get Frank on the line, it'd be nice if you could ask him who had more to do with winning the team's first postseason game in 16 years: The Parking Lot Attendant or Jose Lima?

Or Hee Seop Choi, who doubled to tie a key Colorado game the last week of the season, and walked to keep the Finley game going. Or David Ross, whose two run home run won the same Colorado game. Or Elmer Dessens, who somehow held the Giants within range for the ninth inning strike. Not that I would go to war if I only had Choi, Ross, and Dessens. But we don't. And that's not the point anyway. The point is that I can point to any one-day performance and claim this or that or the other. This is called "Malone-ism." And, by Simers' logic, if the guy with one playoff win is so spectacular, just imagine what we can do with a guy who won THREE playoff games last year.

The L.A Times has recently started an opinion column called "Outside the Box," in which outsiders are allowed to come in and write a column bashing the Times. It's on Kinsley's Op-Ed page, so I doubt that baseball will find its way there, but Plaschkers (my new hybrid name so I don't have to refer to "Plaschke and/or Simers") must be stopped.

P.S. Steve Lyons? Help me. Isn't there enough uninformed commentary without the Dodgers paying someone to give it?

2 Comments:

  • And done it be. Gracias.

    I've got three friends, Dodger fans and Jim Tracy fans and they look forward to reading this blog because of the media criticism. God help Simers and Plaschke if Bill Dwyre ever reads this page. On second thought, God might have better things on his mind. For instance...

    Nine innings of televised commentary from Steve Lyons, fifty games a year. Three reactions:

    --God have mercy on us
    --God help us
    --Why, God?? In heaven's name, why???

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/21/2005 05:12:00 PM  

  • RE: Jamie McCourt and Slimers:

    Jamie got into it with, I think, Jason Reid and did say something like, "I gotta watch what I say because you guys write everything down." This was, I think, just after McCourt bought the team and the press was less than kind. Anyway, ever since, Jamie McCourt has been the screaming meanie according to T.J. Simers.

    He sure is a mature guy, that T.J.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/21/2005 07:22:00 PM  

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