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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Even Nixon Had Pat

I had originally started this post as the straightforward excerpt of still more whistling-sounds-of-doom that keep eminating from Dodger Stadium lately. I'll start off with that, but I want to make it very, very clear that this is just one part of the McCourt Show that desperately needs the attention of all Dodger fans. If you haven't already, read this account of one Baltimorean's interactions with Frank-n-Jamie, forwarded by Jon. McCourt and Opryland were to join together to form a new operation in Baltimore, in what was the old fish market.
As the Director of Operations for the facility, I attended a number of meetings with Frank, and his lovely wife Jamie, and found them to be earnest, but totally incompetent people. Their ideas were useless...

Imagine my surprise when we began to have delays because, among other things, the diner for the building was sitting on a flatcar in New Jersey because Frank didn't have the money to pay for it. ... The $23M project could not even place the electronic signage for the main entrance into place, because the money wasn't available to get it delivered.

... I was pulled aside one day by the controller, a personal friend who had originally called me in Ohio to tell me about the job. He was ashen. He told me he had just finished a meeting with the McCourts and their financial people, and that the project was doomed.

I asked how he could know that, when we hadn't even yet opened the doors (the delayed opening, which had finally been settled when we informed Frank that he could not open the facility without the diner, since the liquor laws were going to require the eatery for us to get our license, was still about a month away)...and he said "for us to make this work, everything's going to have to be perfect. We're going to have to turn a profit within six months, and we told Frank that this was not realistic; our people had projected it would take 12 to 18 months. This place has to be a cash cow right off the bat, because the debt load is huge. I'd never seen those numbers before, I'd only seen Opryland's numbers. I swear that if I had seen McCourt's, I'd have never called you to fly in here for that interview."

And so the McCourts went down with the ship, with predictable lawsuits and countersuits, with Opryland (the employer of the individual writing this piece) settling for a fraction of its losses.

Back to the present, or something like it. In January, the Daily News ran an article including one anonymous baseball insider's estimate of McCourt's financial leash to be no more than three years. In October 2003, the Boston Globe interviewed Sportscorp's Marc Ganis, who said "The Dodgers are losing money. There is not the cash flow to support debt." Despite these reports, despite the litany of actual problems (as opposed to anonymous reports) associated with McCourt ownership, somehow, there are those who still insist that this guy is going to get us to the promised land. The arguments against skepticism all have the qualities of extreme naifdom swirling about them, as flies circle Pigpen. Consider one Tommy Naccarato's words:

Lets [sic] get behind McCourt for a couple of years; help him make the team a winner and hipefully [sic] we can enjoy winning again in Chaves [sic] Ravine. I know for a fact that I certainly miss it.

Oh yes, and about Kris Rone, well her job has nothing to do with the team's performance. I'm sorry she isn't going to be getting the chance to NOT stock my size of shirt at the Top of the Park this upcoming season--as if she ever intended too.

In other words, as he put it earlier, "this is a new era" and we should all close our eyes.

Right. I bet that works great if you're a wildebeest amidst lions.

And I've got some news for you, dude. Rone's job has plenty to do with the team's performance: she's the gal who gets the cash that the team plows back into player salaries, scouting operations, and the minor leagues. Losing somebody with her track record is no small matter.

But in the end, results don't -- or won't -- matter. When spring turns to summer and the Dodgers still don't have a hitter (or five, which is more like the number they need), the McCourt apologists will be back at it with their Pollyanna stories about how we all need to get behind the team, and so forth. Everybody needs a supporter come what may, no matter how slimy, or in this case, blatently stupid they might be. Even Nixon had Pat.


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