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More Than Injuries Were Responsible for the Dodgers' Decline

September 06, 1986

If you've read the sports section this summer, you get the Dodger stats, some straight-ahead reporting and only lately a little attitude, now that it's obvious the Dodgers are out of the pennant race. Never a tough examination of a franchise that doesn't win down to its instructional league teams, never an acknowledgement of serious problems, never a controversy.

But let our boys in blue capture eight or nine straight several weeks back, and we get a sweetheart piece trumpeting miracles and pennants.

Then, not a word when they nose dive. No stink here. No sir. Not a whiff. Print a couple of choice Lasorda quotes covering his backside and advancing the front office line, give us the injury update and basically take no editorial position.

Perfect. A Stepford sports section for Stepford fans who leave the park during a 2-2 game in the seventh inning, grinning their know-nothing idiot Moonie smiles and telling the die-hard fan to have faith, Saxie is just soooo cute, and the guys are trying soooo hard.

But for those of us who love and support the game, who listen and read and pay the six bucks for the box seats, and the two bucks for parking, the buck and a half for a Dodger dog, and the two bucks for a shrunken cup of beer . . . we smell it, babe, and the rot's there, beginning right at the top, the fish's head, in Mr. Al (the Chief) Campanis' office.

The decline of the Dodgers is not owing to injuries. Guys on injured reserve don't make a league-leading number of errors or repeatedly fail to advance runners or blow leads in late innings game after game. Players do these things. Professionals who make a lot of money.

The fact is, owner Peter O'Malley, perhaps out of an admirable but now misplaced sense of family loyalty to Campanis, has allowed the general manager to hang on past his prime. The organization has fewer prospects, the trades are bad, and the current Dodgers have no chemistry, and not the greatest talent.

The fact is, if Campanis were a player--if he was judged by his current performance, as Campanis judges his players--he'd be gotten rid of.


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