Thursday, May 24, 2007

Plaschke Praises Parking, Following Wafer-Thin "Investigative" Reporting

Frank McCourt must have naked pictures of Bill Plaschke. (And if that were true, one might actually feel bad for McCourt.)

That is the only way to explain Plaschke's valentine to Frank McCourt in today's LA Times, which uses incredibly shoddy reporting to support his conclusion that Dodger Stadium parking is "better than ever." Even by the nadir that is Bill Plaschke standards, this article was horrible. His haste to canonize Frank McCourt as the savior of Dodger parking is clearly based on flimsy data including a small sample size and misuse of statistics. But let's cut to the chase: first, the knighting of McCourt:

I had never before experienced such parking efficiency at the stadium. Judging from the way many fans happily honked their horns as they sped off into the night, I wasn't the only one.

The wait will be longer on weekends. It will always be tougher on opening day and in the postseason. But twice in two games as a fan this season, I have had zero parking stress, and although it doesn't make for a colorful story, it's becoming a consistent one.

Nobody wants to say it, so I suppose I will.

The parking lot at Dodger Stadium is not only working again, but it's better than ever.

Nobody wants to admit it, so I guess I should.

Frank McCourt has survived the biggest single public relations nightmare of his tenure with 65-mph colors.

Now, I don't know what color "65-mph" is, but I do know the red of a rear brakelight when I see it--and having personally attended five games this year (of a possible 24 home games), I have seen plenty of red from both the brakelights of cars and the faces of motorists. Three of the times, the parking was backed up, the attendants were clueless, and the traffic flow was awful. Two of the other times, the parking was smooth, due largely to the fact that it was a low-attendance game.

Plaschke has been to fewer than 10% of the home games, yet has enough data to call the parking system a "success." I bet he predicted Portland's 5% odds were going to win the NBA Draft Lottery, too.

Plaschke's second fatal flaw in logic comes from his first-person recap of his experience at Tuesday night's game:

A couple of hours later, certain that the pre-game quickness was a fluke, I squeezed through the packed concourses with the 33,552 fans moments after the last pitch.

Did you catch that? Yes, it's easy to miss this one since ALL of Plaschke's articles succumb to the cheap journalistic ploy of a first-person account, often signalled by a hallmark one-sentence-per-paragraph structure that lulls the reader into a dreamlike trance. If it feels airy as you chew on his words, it may be because his paragraphs are wafer-thin, and most of the space in his articles is actually blank space caused by frequent carriage returns.

But once one snaps oneself out of the trance and wipes the drool off one's face, it's easy to realize that Plaschke is confusing the box score attendance with in-seat attendance. And as any Dodger fan knows, there is a big difference between the two numbers. 33K tickets sold probably translates to an event attendance of 20-25K people, tops--or much less than half of Dodger Stadium's actual attendance. The fact of the matter is, the parking lots were likely less than half-full.

And from this, Plaschke wants to crown Frank McCourt king? Traffic is supposed to be easy when no one is at the stadium, Bill! Any reporter worth his salt could tell you that a Tuesday night game against the Brewers is not going to draw a decent crowd.

What's next for Plaschke? An article about how there's no wait for Disneyland's Splash Mountain on a rainy day in February? How LAX security lines are a breeze at 3am? How the Sizzler all-you-can-eat buffet is stacked with options at 4pm? His hard-hitting, insightful journalism knows no bounds, so I can hardly wait for his next valentine.

In the interim, those of us who do get out to Dodger Stadium more frequently know that the new parking system gets mixed reviews at best. The legions of attendants to help direct traffic flow are an improvement, particularly as they've gotten more empowered and knowledgable. However, the crawl up to the left for general admission through the Sunset Gate can be an arduous trek for those arriving at game time on the weekends. And underpinning all of this has to be the fact that parking costs $15 this year, up from $10--a fact mysteriously unmentioned in Plaschke's "Ode To A Frankie McCourt." Frankly, for a 50% price increase, I'd expect the parking to be better, and certainly better than it is today.

Make no mistake: The jury is still out. Even if Plaschke is clearly in (the pocket of Frank McCourt).


Lasorda said...

Hear, hear! One could only hope that Plaschke wrote that article in hopes of taking the Times' buyout offer and getting a job in the Dodgers PR department. As we've seen elsewhere, the guys writing articles for the Dodgers sort of suck.

Steve Sax said...

I was cool with Steve Henson, but I think he took the buyout....

Alex Cora said...

Great response to the article. Sorry for the late post, but I just got home from the game that was played yesterday.