There's really not much more to say about this than the great post that Jon had over at DT, coupled with what Rob wrote over at 6-4-2 (and in the course of his post, then referenced an equally great comment from DT--wow, I'm getting dizzy).
For those of you who didn't read the LA Times story today which set off this firestorm of criticism, let me give the context. The article's headline / tagline reads: "Frank and Jamie McCourt have a question for Dodgers fans / Would you rather have a top free agent or 50 youth fields in L.A., Frank and Jamie McCourt wonder."
I'm steaming mad by this point. But the article goes on to outline Frank and Jamie's absurd rhetorical question:
"If you bring somebody in to play and pay them, pick a number, $30 million, does that seem a little weird to you?" Jamie McCourt asked in an interview at the Evergreen Recreation Center in East Los Angeles. "That's what we're trying to figure out. We're really trying to see it through the eyes of our fans. We're really trying to understand, would they rather have the 50 fields?"
I'm going to address this inanity on multiple levels.
1. THE DIRECT ANSWER. Look, buddy, I'm not going to fall for your non-sequitur argument. I participated in Lincoln-Douglass debates in high school, so nice try. Your positioning of these options as mutually exclusive choices is ridiculous and illogical, because quite frankly, I as a Dodger fan should have rights to both. I want to enjoy watching Manny Ramirez on the field next year. And I also want to see the Dodgers give back to the community in ways far different from their begrudging compliance (and scrooge-like donations) with the Dodgers Trolley. And since you've jacked up my season ticket prices and parking prices by over 100% over the past three years, without a commensurate increase in payroll by the way, there's no way that I can't get both. And I deserve both. Don't blame your state of over-leveraged financial mismanagement on me, Frankie, and don't try to use needy children as a shield for why we have yet to sign a productive marquee free agent under your tenure.
I should get Manny. And I should get 50 fields. And, for asking such a stupid question, I should get to kick Frank McCourt in the nuts, too.
2. THE NEXT-LEVEL QUESTION. But let me take the leap and assume that you are financially bankrupt and morally adrift and lost at sea. You're reaching out to the fans, in a major metropolitan newspaper no less, to ask if we would support a charitable pursuit on the Dodgers behalf. Okay, I'll take the bait. Sure, I'd support charity before even Manny Ramirez. But if you're asking for my voice, then I should GET that voice also on exactly where we should spend that money--and it ain't toward 50 baseball fields, Frankie (nor is it toward bailing out the American automobile companies, either, but that's another post). Maybe it's shelter and basic needs for the people who lost homes and possessions in the recent Southern California fires? Or clothes for the kids so they don't have to play baseball on your fields naked? Or toys for tots this Christmas, the worst retail season in decades? If you're going to unilaterally shove it toward baseball fields, and take all the glory for it, then don't pretend it was a democratic process to begin with.
If you want to use the Dodger fans' money to support a worthy charitable cause, then hold an auction or a special event. Or even offer two prices of beer for those who want to donate the incremental revenue difference to the cause. But don't go taking the money I've given you for my tickets, and at the same time erode the quality of the asset that I've come to see perform. That money was supposed to be reinvested in the asset, remember?
3. THE MEDIA QUESTION. Dylan Hernandez is a pretty darn good Dodgers beat writer, but what the hell was he thinking with this post? This article made no sense, and is clearly a puff piece requested by McCourt to take the heat off of what promises to be an empty-handed free agent season. McCourt can't play with the big boys at the high-stakes table, so he tries to get the press to evoke sympathy with a non-sensical tradeoff. Hernandez must be duct-taped to a chair in some basement somewhere, because I can't think of a situation where he would write his article willingly. This is enough to get FJM out of retirement--and surprisingly, Plaschke's not even involved!
The McCourt's circuses (circi?) have gotten tiresome. They can't manage their money, they can't manage their assets, they can't manage the media. The only time they have come out smelling like roses is when their buffoonery has set the bar of expectations so low, that even a mediocre move constitutes a major achievement.
When we start holding Frank McCourt to the standards of a professional franchise owner, he looks like an idiot. Perhaps the charity can begin at home, Frank, with a couple of self-help books for Christmas? Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" comes to mind.
UPDATE 11/26 1.39p: The LAT article also has a sidebar that posts the binary decision (high-paid free agent a la Manny Ramirez, vs. 50 youth baseball fields) to a vote. With 2,178 responses, "high-paid free agent" has garnered almost 60% of the vote. Christmas spirit be damned, give us a quality team, Frank! (Better tell Neddie to call Boras back, after all.)