I go through periods where I feel sympathy for public figures whose every statement gets torn up on sites like this one and thousands of others. And then the pendulum swings and I consider that this sort of scrutiny comes with the territory. In the end, I think I have a finite amount of tolerance for public relations gaffes. It's the people who just can't help themselves that get me riled up.
Like Frank McCourt. More quotes from his interview with Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
We've spent a huge amount of money during my tenure as owner. We're a big-market team and fans deserve a great team on the field. One of our core promises is to consistently put a championship-caliber team on the field. I wish there was a direct correlation between how much you spend and how many games you win. Unfortunately, there is not. The key is how wisely you spend the money.
Well, the first problem is that there is a positive correlation between payroll and winning. It's slight, but it's there. You can't just deny the existence of something proved to exist. He's right, though: it's mostly about efficient use of resources. Let's move on:
[The on-field success] happened in part because of what we spent. But equally or more, because we have a development system in place and a way to do business to identify big league talent and develop players that can play here for a period of time and give us consistency and who the fans can relate to.
As developing young talent goes, the Dodgers might be the most irresponsible team in the major leagues over the last few seasons. Spending on the draft and in international free agency has dried, and the club has sent premium prospects out in deals for pieces here and there.*
*And just what the heck does that comment on consistency and players we can relate to have to do with anything? Consistency has a dark side: you can be consistently bad. And developing players who the fans can relate to has to be one of the silliest things I've read in the last few days. These are young men paid millions of dollars to play a game. We might relate to their struggles, or maybe their hometowns. But come on. If that's a goal of the Dodgers' player development system, I might just quit.
None of this is new to us. We've been over it ad nauseam. I'm just baffled by Frank's insistence on saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. He just can't help but come off as awkward, straining, and directionless. His current tune is that high-priced free agents are bad, even though the club would not have had the success of the last couple years without the highest-paid player in team history. He lauds a development system with no top-shelf talent to, you know, develop. And he continues to blame the club's current constraints on the down economy, the very same financial maelstrom which could not prevent Dodger fans from buying more tickets to see their beloved team than any other fanbase in the world.
Times are tough right now. For me, maybe you, and certainly Frank McCourt. The way to make this work, though, isn't to put red lipstick on a pig and call it blue. Don't tell me that the lack of spending on free agency is due to the negative value of free agents. That's just not true. And don't tell me that the player development system is what should inspire hope for the team going forward. That's just not true.
The Dodgers have a center fielder and a starting pitcher who could very well be the best players in the league at their positions for the next several years. That's good. There's also a right fielder and another starter who are damned amazing in their own right. That's good. There's a left fielder still capable of being the best hitter in the league, a dominant reliever, and plenty of other nice pieces. That's all good.
The Dodgers are what they are: extremely promising in 2010. And a big 'ol sackful of "who the hell knows" after that. So let's sign whatever flotsam and jetsam we're going to sign and get rolling. Baseball is a wonderfully healing sort of thing. It won't be long before the beautiful grind commences.