Monday, March 17, 2008

McCourt Shuts Doors on Vero Beach Using Smoke, Mirrors, Rationalization

The Dodgers' latest press release is one of the weakest spin campaigns I have ever seen, as once again Frank McCourt is all blather and no substance. I really feel for Josh Rawitch when he's fed drivel like this and he's asked to put lipstick on this pig. Let's start with the lead:

VERO BEACH, FL – Dodger Owner Frank McCourt said today that the “Dodgers will not leave Dodgertown; we will take Dodgertown with us to Los Angeles.”

McCourt made the revelation on the day of the club’s final Florida home date in 2008. The club celebrated its 60th anniversary in Vero Beach, FL, this spring.

Okay, I'm intrigued. What does this "revelation" mean, tangibly speaking, Frankie? Are we moving any historic pieces of the facilities? The Dodger-named street signs? The home plates from the Vero Beach baseball diamonds? The front facade reading "Dodgertown"? Do tell!

“This complex, with its history of the Dodgers, overwhelms you. You can’t fathom leaving it behind. Yet at the same time, it breaks our hearts to know that so many in Los Angeles cannot make the cross-country trek with their families to see it first hand. And make no mistake, that is the driving force behind the move to Arizona.

“As our family prepares to move from this neighborhood, it strikes us that we can incorporate so many elements of this place in our home in Los Angeles. After all, Dodger Stadium is Dodgertown, and for that matter, LA is Dodgertown.”

Actually, Frank, Vero Beach is Dodgertown--or maybe you haven't noticed that huge sign up front. Here's a hint: it looks like this (photo courtesy USA Today):

I've never seen a sign like that over at Chavez Ravine, which houses Dodger Stadium, and not Dodgertown. Exactly how is Los Angeles "Dodgertown," except in your mind?

But okay, I'll go with your promise and take the leap of faith here. So tell me exactly what "elements" of Vero Beach will be "incorporated" here in Los Angeles?

Some elements may well move to the club’s new Spring Training site in Arizona.

“Some elements may transfer well there, but, that said, Arizona has its own style, its own feel,” McCourt said. “The copper and cactus and Camelback culture has a western feel all its own. We’ll start a new history there, one that comfortably welcomes families who can make a five-hour drive or catch a one-hour flight.

Answer: NONE of the elements.

“But the stories and the legends live in Dodgertown’s lounge, dining room, photos, street signs, and even in the light posts with those baseballs on top. It would be wonderful to capture the friendliness, the spirit, and the love of the game that is inherent here and bring it home with us.

Wait a minute here. You're not incorporating ANYTHING! In fact, you're highlighting starting a brand new tradition in Arizona, devoid of any of the Vero Beach elements! "It sure would be wonderful," you say, but no actions or promises back up these words! Hmm...

“It’s a real estate opportunity, which I of course love. We can create a plan to make this happen before too long.”

That's right, the press release ends with your true motivation: it's a real estate play, and NOT a fan play. If you did care about the fans in Vero Beach, you would back up your words with a concrete action that indicates how the traditions of Vero Beach will continue. Instead, behind the hyperbole, there is nothing tangible--typical for a McCourt statement.

Look, Frank, this particular Son happens to be just fine with the Dodgers' spring training move from Florida, whether it's a real estate play or a proximity-to-Los-Angeles play or whatever. I'm fine with upgrading the spring training facilities which by all accounts needed a refurbishment.

But if you're going to speak of tradition, you're going to have to mention how you are going to uphold tradition--and if you're going to make sweeping comments like "we will take Dodgertown with us to Los Angeles,” you'd better have at least one simple tangible example to back it up. Otherwise, it's nothing but hot air.


Rob said...

For once, I have some sympathy for McCourt. The move of Dodgers spring training facilities to Arizona was long overdue (IIRC they, the Cards, and the Astros were the only teams west of the Mississippi to still hold camp in Florida), and he's got to spin this somehow. McCourt has made a big point to talk about the Dodgers' history and so forth, but he's really cornered here.

Steve Sax said...

Rob: He's only cornered because he opened his yapper. If he'd have stayed quiet as he did when the parking criticisms came, or when the firing-the-GM-at-the-last-second decision came, or when the doubling-of-ticket-prices-in-two-years came, etc. etc., then this never would have happened.

And if Woody had gone to the police, this would never have happened, either.