Enough of the hoopla says Frank McCourt finally passed and passed to the best men possible. The hoopla isn’t exactly wrong. The good news for Los Angeles Dodger fans is that one of baseball’s signature franchises can no longer serve as McCourt’s personal ATM machine. The better news, for Dodger fans and for baseball itself, is that the team is now owned by men to whom winning is DNA.
Back in December, I pondered the incumbent class of Hall of Fame candidates, a subject that often brings forth both the best and the worst of thinking, from professional analysts, knowledgeable fans, and the witless alike. My very favourite of any of those was a response to the previous year’s such pondering, when a reader—anxious to make Edgar Martinez’s Hall of Fame case (he was and remains a ballot holdover and he has a case, though the DH bias is liable to keep him out of Cooperstown awhile longer)—decided to compare him to, among others, Chipper Jones: It’s pretty clear that Edgar was a model of consistency. And in terms of hitting, it’s clear to me that Edgar is a notch above modern-era players like Todd Helton, Frank Thomas, Chipper Jones, and Larry Walker. To which I replied:
Most baseball analysts blurt out observations that beg for further examination here and there. Ken Rosenthal, the Fox Sports writer and commentator, and one of the best analysts of the breed, is one of them. Here he is, musing about Don Mattingly’s growth as a manager in light of having had “three strikes” against him when he took the command post for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year: He had never managed in the majors or minors. He had to exert greater authority over players who knew him only as a coach. And he had been a great player — a drawback, seeing as how great players rarely make great managers.
Says Tracy Ringolsby, Hall of Fame baseball writer ruminating over baseball’s long enough history of ownership troubles: “There’s been troubled ownership in baseball since at least the days of Babe Ruth, who in 1919 was sold by Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee to the New York Yankees for $125,000 because Frazee needed money to fund his Broadway musical No, No, Nannette.”
Say I: Aw, jeez, not this crap again.
I was reading Steve Henson’s charming profile of a spring training day in the life of Tommy Lasorda this morning. Now 84, Lasorda puts in twelve-hour days as perhaps the Dodgers’ number one ambassador on and off the field, touring around the gathering fans and driving his golf cart from spot to spot checking the major and minor leaguers alike. (“You couldn’t hit my curveball,” Lasorda, a one-time relief pitcher, needled Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp. “You know what I used to say when they played against me? ‘Your heart belongs to mama but your behind belongs to me’.”)
Sandy Koufax has made annuals visits to the New York Mets’ spring training camp in Port St. Lucie for several years. His longtime friendship with beleaguered owner Fred Wilpon is one reason; his longtime friendship with manager Terry Collins has become another. This time, his first spring visit focused on two young Mets pitchers, Bobby Parnell and Matt Harvey. The Hall of Famer talked mechanics with Parnell and confidence with Harvey, who said he was “blown away” by Koufax’s visit.
* BRAINS VERSUS BRAUN? No, Ryan Braun (or, at least, his attorney) certainly didn’t help his own cause by trying to throw sample collector Dino Laurenzi, Jr. under the proverbial bus. Yes, Braun has every right to defend his integrity, even if it’s going to take awhile to sort out just what did or didn’t transpire, or who is or isn’t cleared. No, baseball government didn’t do itself any major favours by slamming arbitrator Shayam Das’s overthrow of Braun’s likely suspension. And, yes, Hall of Fame writer Murray Chass is dead right in chastising the bulk of the sports media who all but beat the tympani for the “guilty until proven one way or the other” school of thought on actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances yet lingering in baseball. All of which means that the only thing we still seem to know is that we don’t know much of anything just yet. Which isn’t going to stop those who don’t know from preening as though they know, anyway.