Fire Jim Tracy

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Tim Brown Joins the Losers' Lounge

First of all, please note the Arrested Development rant below; this is more important than any current Dodger issue. Civilization is at stake -- or at least something to watch on TV that doesn't have Paris Hilton in it.

Second, bully for the Dodgers for cutting off T.J. Simers, shunting him off to low-level employees and interns. Yes, the Dodger front office doesn't care about children with illnesses. Sure. Whatever. How many different ways can you say "scheduling conflict?" Would you have an autism fundraiser in your house two days before you moved into it? No. You would wait until after you had the carpet down. But the more important part of the story (given that the 5K walk is going to be at the Rose Bowl, so who cares?) is that Simers is getting treated like the Dodger beat reporter for the Daily Bruin.

Third, Tim Brown was supposed to be our savior this year. With Simers and Plaschke abusing the English language with the journalistic equivalent of fingernails across the chalkboard, Brown was supposed to be the voice of sanity. In fact, here I had good things to say about one of his pieces. Jon, at Dodger Thoughts, was exultant here and here.

Well, sorry folks, but it appears that we will be sorely disappointed. This sentence appears in Tim Brown's latest piece:

General Manager Paul DePodesta went for pitching over all else, including, some say, his sanity, leaving the Dodgers short on infield defense and offense. They lost both when Beltre ran off to Seattle, and broke even when Kent signed early in free agency and replaced Alex Cora.

We certainly downgraded at offense with Beltre, and likely on defense (but again, not enough for it to matter). But how in the world can you claim, in a major metropolitan newspaper, that DePodesta "broke even" replacing Cora with Kent? We've been through the defensive question plenty; there does not appear to be any empirical evidence, either in traditional or "weird" statistics, that Kent is a downgrade from Cora. Those with empirical evidence greater than "I saw Jeff Kent give up a single to right field once" are invited to submit it, including Tim Brown, who would no doubt blame "compressed space" for not being able to publish evidence that does not exist. (I also remind those who favor anecdotal evidence of Cora's second base play that I saw Alex Cora get handcuffed on a possible double play ball in the NLDS that allowed St. Louis to break open the game. You might have seen it too.) That Kent is break even with Cora on offense is absurd on its face, and simply suggests the kind of journalistic bias and predisposition to nonsense that permeates the rest of the paper.

Sure, it's just one sentence. But it's what the sentence says. It's gibberish. It's nonsense. It's playing to the Cora-flavored Kool-aid crowd instead of exercising the journalistic integrity to say what's going on in the real world. It's supporting a tenuous, at least arguable, assertion in the first place (that the Dodgers are "short on infield defense and offense" -- something that has yet to be seen, and is by no means obvious) with blatantly false propaganda. It is Plaschke-ism, and yet in an admittedly brief review of Plaschke's most recent writing, I cannot even find a Plaschke statement more absurd than the claim that Kent is "break even" with Cora, Cleveland's new backup middle infielder.

The Dodgers need to wake up and develop a media strategy that bypasses the Los Angeles Times. It is a pit of lies, slanders, distortions, and half-truths. DePodesta needs to hold weekly online chats that can be widely disseminated and use his own words. Fans need to continue to hold McCourt's feet to the fire with phone calls, because we find out stuff in those phone calls. They need to find national journalistic outlets, following up on largely solid efforts by Jon Saraceno at USA Today and Rob Neyer at ESPN (forget the ESPN Broadcast guys -- those guys are as useless as Paris Hilton). They need to use their own web-site more effectively as a communication tool. Talk radio is probably a lost cause (for rational discourse altogether -- those guys are like the Holy High Priests of the Mass Suicidal Cora Cult), but any outlet must be exploited. DePodesta should be talking to Jon post-haste, though I suspect a tough but fair interview would be so unnerving that he would break down and admit that the Derek Lowe signing was a four-alarm disaster.

The Times is a failing news organization because it is a cocoon-spinning, insular, tunnel-vision organization, and the sports page employees, for some bizarre reason, have chosen to build their particular cocoon around the Dodgers. The cocoon leads, inexorably, to shoddy and intellectually bankrupt conclusions like Tim Brown's. There will be many more to come. God help us all in 2005.


  • Could the comment be read as returning to the break even point by procuring Jeff Kent? That is, the loss of Beltre is so great, that replacing a lot of his power at second base brought the team back to an even level?

    By Blogger Rick, at 2/15/2005 03:13:00 PM  

  • Would that it could be read as such. But the "and" makes the two clauses independent of each other, implying two separate points:

    1) The Dodgers lost both infield defense and offense when they lost Adrian Beltre


    2) The Dodgers "broke even" by signing Jeff Kent, presumably because Kent is better offensively and Cora better defensively.

    Of course, even if one assumes that Cora is better defensively, and I think the point is certainly arguable, given the uncertainty surrounding defensive statistics, the difference is so negligible as to make the "break even" assertion laughable.

    A "but" where the "and" was could have conveyed the message you suggest.

    Furthermore, to read the point as you suggest makes the paragraph nonsensical (as if it weren't already). The thesis statement is that the Dodgers lost both infield defense and offense (Brown does not include in his thesis that DePodesta is insane, instead suggesting that there are those who think he is. This is what passes for progress on the L.A. Times sports page.). His supporting sentence, if read as proposed, would then undermine his thesis, which would suggest just as incompetent an author as one who suggested that Alex Cora and Jeff Kent were a "break even" proposition.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/15/2005 03:40:00 PM  

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