November 7, 2005
An open letter to Frank McCourt.
Dear Mr. McCourt,
It’s been a rough stretch for the Dodgers, and you’ve taken it in the shorts from all corners. Some of the criticism has been warranted; some not so much. Rather than pile on, I thought I’d offer a few heartfelt suggestions; just some simple steps you can take to turn things around.
I apologize in advance for any item which might be construed as condescending. It’s been a rough stretch for us too.
Not listed in order of importance or alphabetically, but by height; here they are. Knock yourself out:
Players’ names on jerseys.
Clarify the $100 million payroll promise. We might not hold you to it if you at least make an effort to be straight with us. $85 or $90 mil works almost as well, but you gotta come clean.
Hire a general manager who actually wants the job, and for the right reasons, including say, that he loves L.A., loves the Dodgers, and has a championship ring to show for his efforts. Larry Beinfest or Dennis Gilbert, for example. Not Jim Bowden. Definitely not John Hart.
Choose a field manager from a list of real Dodgers who want to manage the Dodgers because they’re the Dodgers. Kirk Gibson, Mickey Hatcher, Orel Hershiser, Davey Lopes, for starters. If all else fails, fine, Bobby Valentine.
Hire the best coaches money can buy, pay them the going rate, and greet them with the following: “Thank you very much. Welcome to the Los Angeles Dodgers. We want you to be happy here. If there is anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable, please just let us know.”
Stop the bleeding of Dodger blue – the actual bleeding of Dodger blue. No more firing of vice presidents.
Bring back Joe Amalfitano, Mark Cresse, Davey Lopes, Ron Perranoski, Ross Porter, Bill Russell and Reggie Smith.
There hasn’t been an Oldtimer’s Day in quite awhile. How about one of those?
Talk to Don Newcombe about something other than substance abuse, like, oh I don’t know, pitching! Or come to think of it, hitting.
The next time you’re thinking about letting Jason Grabowski anywhere even remotely in the vicinity of a bat rack, think again.
Really, truly, quickly and professionally develop an understanding of public relations, and in particular, Los Angeles Dodgers public relations. Follow the blue print that’s been there for decades.
Here’s an example: If you’re turning a nice profit, no matter how badly you want to, don’t send out a press release to brag about it.
Here’s another: If you’re going to promote from within, within the family that is, don’t send out a press release to brag about it.
If you’re going to buy a big house in Holmby Hills, let alone two, don’t send out a press release to brag about it.
It’s OK to talk about being a builder, and laying foundations and all; that’s all right; but if you’re really going to build, you have to stop burning your bridges.
Put an immediate stop to all talk of pastels and investing in Dodger Stadium infrastructure, leave the seats right where they are, and pledge to redirect the money into player personnel. That, you can send out a press release to brag about.
Generally speaking, I don’t think a healthy dose of humility all around would be a waste of your time.
No more crisis management firms. In fact, sue the bleep out of the first one. The word “malpractice” seems to apply.
Get a sense of humor, and use it in your public relations. “This is L.A. Baseball” was a nice start, kind of. Remember when Derrick Hall told the San Francisco Giants what they could do with their 50 year anniversary of Bobby Thomson’s home run celebration? More of that.
Bleep the “high road” and stand up for L.A. Go after the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for their use of our city’s name as their own, when by no logical means should they be allowed to sully it in that way. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is a prepositional phrase, for God’s sake!!!
One ringing scoreboard is enough, thank you very much.
Make Dodger Stadium and the entire organization absolutely ooze Dodger tradition. Commission a statue of Sandy Koufax, as has been proposed on this site for two years running. Perhaps a Gallery of Champions, honoring Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Famers Walter Alston, Don Drysdale, Tommy Lasorda and Vin Scully.
When a season ticket holder sends you a thoughtful, respectful letter, write him back.
When a season ticket holder sends you a thoughtful, respectful letter, days after you’ve said publicly that you’ll respond to each and every customer’s concern or discipline an employee who fails to, write the man back.
When a season ticket holder sends you a thoughtful, respectful letter, days after you’ve said publicly that you’ll respond to each and every customer’s concern or discipline an employee who fails to, when in particular, the letter includes a plan to raise six figure dollars for charity, while at the same time, building a statue in honor of Mr. Koufax, write him back.
Open the Dodger Stadium gates early enough for the fans to watch the home team take batting practice.
Get a flagship radio station with a signal that can be picked up in the San Fernando Valley and points north, Huntington Beach and points south, and the Inland Empire and points east. You’re off the hook for points west. Driving by a two story building in Los Angeles shouldn’t be an impediment to hearing Vinny, even if it is just for three innings.
All Spring Training games on live radio.
Remove all high-priced dead weight from the roster, starting with multi-millionaire Darren Dreifort wannabees, Odalis Perez and J.D. Drew. Replace them with guys worthy of being Dodgers.
Listen to Tommy Lasorda more than you used to, but not quite as much as you are now.
A mandatory moratorium on Jasons and Todds.
For every lunch with T.J. Simers, lunch with every single Dodger fan who suffered through 2005, individually.
PS. Remember, glove conquers all....
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