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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Jamie Lacks The Write Stuff

More howlers from today's Times, reminding one of the Robert McNamara-era pronounciamentos about Vietnam. The McCourts just aren't worried about high-level defections in recent weeks:
Speaking on behalf of her husband, Frank, Jamie McCourt said they were not concerned about the high-level defections that have occurred in their first month in charge. The McCourts have not addressed the club's approximately 250 full-time staff members about the resignations of Bob Graziano, team president; Kris Rone, executive vice president of business; and Derrick Hall, senior vice president of communications, and they won't dwell on them when meeting with employees sometime before opening day at Dodger Stadium.

The McCourts said change is simply part of the transition process and they expect more from everyone.

"We expect an enormous amount of accountability," said Jamie, the vice chairman. "We're going to try to change the culture of the Dodgers, because this should be a team that's in the playoffs every year. To not be in the playoffs is crazy. They should have been drawing 4 million fans, not 3 million fans. They should be making money, not losing $50 million [a year].

"The Dream Foundation, for example, should be doing even more in the community than it's doing. The Dodgers can do better. We're not nervous, because it's our intention to have better baseball, do better for the fans, do better for the employees and do better for the players. Whatever it takes to assemble that team, that's what we're going to do."

The team doesn't have a CEO, a head of communications, a business manager, and they're worried about the Dodger Dream Foundation? And they haven't even spoken with the remaining employees about upper-level vacancies? What color is the sky in that little world of yours, Jamie? In the playoffs? Hah! They'll be lucky if they're in the division! The article goes on to mention that Dodgers employees found out their bosses were no longer working there from the Times, not the McCourts, of which the Wicked Witch of the National League West said:
"I hope we can talk [to the staff] because I think it's very important," Jamie said. "I hope it's soon. Everything is just a little bit awkward in terms of timing because of when the purchase was approved, and now it's spring training. Certainly, we would hope to do so before opening day, but I don't think we're going to focus so much on resignations.
"Surrender, Dorothy" might not appear in the skies over Dodger Stadium, but management-by-press-release doesn't sound like a strategy you'll be reading about in the latest fad business book, either. Now, where did I leave that bucket of water?
She said the Dodgers, sold to the McCourts by News Corp. this winter, operated in a "silo for business, a silo for baseball and a silo for [public relations]"
At the rate upper management ranks have been launched out of the Ravine, can we expect a counterstrike from Russia or China at any moment?
"What we'll focus on is what our expectations are and how we hope everybody who wants to be here will stay involved with the turnaround.
A number dwindling by the hour, no doubt. But that's okay, because at least Jamie recognizes her shortcomings:
"I can't speak for Frank. No one asked me if I thought we should get a hitter or not," she said. "You probably have to talk to Frank. This is bad because you guys remember everything and you write everything down."
Because, yeah, illiteracy is probably, for a lawyer, like, a bad thing. And to think, before this revelation, I thought they had a shining career opportunity writing sitcoms. So, if you can, write this one down, Jamie: get some bats. Oops, scratch that. Try: sell the team.

Update: I suppose I should have seen this one coming: they fire the communications guy and immediately one of the McCourts steps in it. Call it the revenge of the press. Some years ago, there was a story circulating about the early days of the Clinton White House that the staff wasn't maintaining its little touches for the press covering the Washington "beat" (if you can call the usual press release journalism that goes on there a "beat") that the Bushes did, including remembering which candy bars they preferred in the box lunches. So the story went, it was this lack of attention to detail that caused much of the press -- from that day hence -- to be anti-Clinton. I don't know for sure, but I bet Ross Newhan likes Snickers.


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