I know Petros Papadakis, the USC football player turned sports radio pundit, is kind of a blowhard. His whole shtick revolves around a manic enthusiasm and amplified vocal excitability which has listeners hoping that his studios have waterproof microphones, as to prevent an awful short-circuit accident. Personally, I started turning the volume down on Petros after hearing the jingoistic and protectionist tones of his Chevrolet radio ads last year, which I didn't believe were fit for a culturally diverse and sophisticated population like we have in Los Angeles.
All that said, I couldn't help but be fascinated by Papadakis' rant this morning, as a guest on the Kevin and Bean show (KROQ 106.7 FM). Tossed a softball by the KROQ hosts, who asked Papadakis for his thoughts about the McCourt divorce circus and how it has sullied and economically paralyzed the Dodgers, Papadakis pulled no punches in stating his distaste for the owners' poor public handling of this unfortunate situation.
In summary, Papadakis' beef wasn't about the fact that Frank and Jamie McCourt are divorcing, which can happen to anyone. Rather, he begrudged the two of them for their inability to handle the information and media surrounding their divorce, and how they've aired their laundry in the press without regard for the team itself (including announcing the divorce on the eve of the 2009 NLCS, a classy move). And then there's Jamie's stratospheric claims for spousal support of $1M a month to retain her lifestyle; I don't know if I feel worse for Jamie for thinking this Marie Antoinette move would resonate with public opinion, or Frank for having the family's financial shenanigans out in the open. It's just a mess, and it's a mess that TMZ.com is devoting more time to Jamie and Frank than Rihanna and Matt.
The fact that the Dodgers have had their financial coffers closed as a result of this divorce is one thing (Papadakis brought up the common soundbite that the Dodgers' active payroll is lower than the Minnesota Twins' payroll, which is indeed gut-wrenching to hear as a Dodgers fan). But Papadakis was more infuriated with how the Dodgers' brand has been destroyed by the McCourts' catfighting, and how the "chowderheads'" whole nouveau-riche facade, which they exuded upon coming to Los Angeles not too long ago, has given way to an embarrassing shadow which infects the Dodgers' pristine franchise glow. "Jerry Buss went through a divorce in the mid-80's," Papadakis claimed, "and he was able to keep it out of the press. Not the McCourts."
Papadakis is easily excitable, to be sure. But when I reflect upon the past six months and off-season, I agree that the McCourts' actions haven't allowed me to be as proud to support my team as I have been in the past couple of years. Unlike Petros, I'm having a slightly tougher time getting past the fact that the team has cut back on payroll spending, leaving a number of big "ifs" lingering over the team this season (with our only hope resting in the fact that the rest of the NL West didn't improve all that much, either). The McCourts, to their credit, have made decent investments into payroll in prior years, and these investments have been rewarded by the team's postseason results.
But, like Papadakis, I'm struggling with how the Dodgers, in six months' time, have degraded into a comedy of a franchise and the butt of jokes rather than a shining paragon of quality management among sports franchises, let alone MLB. Shouldn't the Dodgers' management stand for class and nobility? Doesn't the Dodger Way mean anything anymore? Isn't $1M/month for living expenses a slight bit excessive (as one SoSG reader commented, "think of all the baseball fields that could build in inner-city communities!")?
Maybe, as some have suggested, the McCourts' clumsiness in team management and public relations aptitude was there all along, and it just didn't publicly manifest itself until this divorce reared its ugly head(s). To be fair, under the McCourts, we did get to the postseason three times in the last four years, and we got playoff series victories in 2008 and 2009 for the first time in two decades. The McCourt era, as pungent as it may smell right now, definitely deserves commendation and credit for those great playoff memories as well.
Maybe this divorce can get resolved quickly, and the luster on the Dodgers' franchise will be restored. I sure hope so, even if I know it isn't all that likely to be quick at all. But I'd sure like to be more proud to be a faithful Dodger fan. I just wish this media circus didn't make it so difficult.