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Thursday, November 27, 2008

More On The McCourts' Fields-Or-Manny PR-tastrophe

Bill Plaschke gives Jamie McCourt a noogie after her ridiculous comments earlier in the day asking whether the Dodgers should engage in charitable activity or hire first-rate free agents. Good grief, I hate myself enough agreeing with Plaschke...

Here's the Mason & Ireland podcast, the interesting parts starting at 1:33.

John Ireland: I'm John Ireland along with A. Martinez. This is Mason & Ireland and one of the reasons we wanted to bring Jamie on today was to talk about what they announced yesterday, which is the fact that the Dodgers are going to add 42 more fields to the eight that they already built. You know, I know that people like the fact that you already built the eight, why did you build the 42 more?

Jamie McCourt: Well you know what, we just celebrated our fiftieth anniversary going backwards, as you know, and this is really in hopes of in talking about the legacy of the next fifty years, and what can we do that talks about the next fifty and moving forward, and we thought this is the perfect opportunity.

JI: Let me get right to what people are talking about today, Jamie, and I'm sure you've had some reaction to this this morning, since it appeared in the paper. You were quoted as saying, if you bring somebody in to play and pay them, pick a number, $30 million, does that seem a little weird? That's what we're trying to figure out, we're really trying to see things through the eyes of our fans, we're really trying to understand, would they rather do that or have the fifty fields?

JM: Oh no, it's not either/or, and ...

JI: Explain, explain that, because I said before you came on, I said that since I've known you, you have always been, almost to the point of a politician, that you never finish an answer without, "the most important thing to me is winning", like you almost seem obsessed with it.

JM: I know, it's a little ridiculous, right?

JI: So, what, I read this, and I think, this is not the Jamie McCourt that I know, and, and ...

JM: No, no, no ...

JI: ... explain it, explain it ...

JM: ... it was half the conversation. You know how it is in the paper, it was half the conversation. I think what was really interesting, though, is that we are in these really weird times, and there's a lot of talk, everywhere, about what's at stake, what's everybody doing going forward, and I think it's important, what's important is to have the conversation about what's important, right?

JI: Sure.

JM: So, I think you know, obviously you know us, we care about winning more than, hah, almost anything, by winning the right way, and we've always talked about winning the right way. It's almost like the Dodger legacy, it's sort of like, how lucky were we to have Jackie, who was a precursor to probably the entire civil rights movement, not just this entry into baseball, and we have Sandy Koufax, who did his whole thing with religious prejudices, and we have women, including people like me, doing things at the club, and Kim Ng. So, the Dodgers have always had this very interesting legacy of vision and integrity and accountability, along with the family values and trying to be an agent for social change, and yet trying always to win but doing it the right way.

JI: Jamie, the other ...

JM: Go ahead ...

JI: Jamie, the other part of the article focused on the guaranteed contracts that the baseball players get, and the quote at the end there, "Whatever money they are guaranteed could be money that we could otherwise give to the community." We're always led to believe, though, that the money for the community and for renovating the stadium is separate than the money that goes toward signing ballplayers.

JM: Well, let's be clear about so many different things. You've just covered a million things. There's the operating budget, which takes care of player compensation and all the other things it that takes to run a ballclub. That's one pot, right, that's one bucket. Then you've got tons of stuff that happens in the community, which by the way is way before you even get to the foundations, right. So, everything that, well, I think, the most important thing besides fielding a great team and winning, about a ball team is the give back to the community. Let's not forget it, the civic asset, right. This is an asset that belongs to all the people. And — you've heard me say this before, I'm sure — I feel like it's the fans who are the MVPs of the Dodgers, right? Without fans, there is not a ball team that's of significance. We have to do what the fans care about. They're our customers, they're our audience, and it's their team. I mean, they're what's important, and so it's important to give back to the community. That's, you know, whether it's the fields, the recreational component that we like to call first base, and then there's the educational component which we like to call second base, and then there's the green initiatives and the environment, and then there's the health care component, right? So we've touched a lot of different pieces, whether it's through the Dream fields, whether it's through Think Cure, whether it's through Dodger Scholars, whether it's through what we do in the environment — but there's thousands of organizations that we deal with, you know, and that we go out into the community with.

JI: So, Jamie ...

JM: Some of it is through the foundations, some of it is just part of the Dodgers and what they do.

JI: But I guess, I would want to know, is that signing a big-time free agent wouldn't mean is that there's less fields for kids.

JM: Oh, of course not. But, it does, I do think, I really do think it's important to ask the question ... how much is okay in times like this?

JI: Right. I think you make a great point.

JM: I think it makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable to watch all these different places losing money and people losing their jobs, and yet ...

JI: ... and it's gonna affect sports, I mean, Jamie, whether fans like it or not, it is eventually gonna ... there's agents out there asking for ten-year contracts and for $160 million, and that money is gonna come from somewhere. I guess you read the article in the Times, right?

JM: I read the article.

JI: Okay, can you see how fans would think — and again, you didn't write it, somebody else wrote it — but when fans read what you said, it paints a picture that they're either gonna build fields, or they're gonna sign Manny Ramirez. And you can assure us that that is not the case.

JM: Yeah, you know, writing the articles for the Times is not in my job description. laughs

JI: laughs

JM: I wish that would be, that would be a lot of fun...

JI: You could balance the scale a little, Jamie.

JM: That's why I'm talking to you guys. I love talking to you.

A. Martinez: What are the chances one of the new fields will be called Manny Ramirez Field? laughs

JM: laughs Call Scott [Boras?] and ask him!

JI: Do you have a — you're kind of an optimistic, glass half full woman. Do you have a sense for how that's gonna end up?

JM: You know, I honestly have no sense, I really don't. I really think that it's hard to predict what's going to happen. I mean, it's always hard to predict because Scott typically looks for long contracts at really huge amounts of money, and I think it's — Manny's 37 — it's really, you know — what do you think? What do you think? How many years should somebody give ...

JI: I think you're gonna get him, but I think that it is, you've gotta, I think you made a good offer — I know some people criticized you for it initially. I think if you come up to three or four years, you get him, and if you don't, he might go away, but Jamie, I'm like you, I'm speculating.

JM: Yeah, I mean, you just don't know. There's three parties involved: there's us, and there's Manny, and there's his agent.

JI: Right.

JM: And so all you can do is hope for the best, really, and give it your best shot. So we're trying, we tried to put an offer out that really made a lot of sense, and again, it's obviously only up to us a third of the way.

JI: So, Jamie, first of all, before we let you go, I want to commend you on building these 42 fields, because I think that the way that this article was written, I think that somehow what got lost in all this was that you guys came out yesterday, and said that you were gonna help, and especially in some of these inner cities where they don't have baseball, and I think it's a really cool thing, so congratulations for that ...

The words tone deaf aren't nearly descriptive enough. She said it — she never denied it. She was ... quoted out of context? More like, she has no clue. Really.

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JM: You know, I honestly have no sense, I really don't.

Rob, today i'm thankful for your blog and that we got Arte. 'nuf said.
Thanks for the kind words... I don't get as many as I used to. I'm seriously thinking about implementing a Weismanian Rule 5 around here...

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