Perhaps a decade too late, Tom Lasorda finally is in charge of the Dodger way to play baseball. The announcement late Sunday night that Lasorda is the team's interim general manager definitely came too late for Al Campanis, who wrote the book on the subject.
He believed until his death early Sunday morning that Lasorda should have succeeded him, maintaining the lineage of hard-core baseball men in charge of Dodger personnel who could trace their roots to Brooklyn and Branch Rickey.
But the Dodgers' logical chain of succession was broken, along with Campanis, on that April night in 1987 when he sat for his ill-fated "Nightline" interview.
Peter O'Malley, to avoid interrupting the continuity on the field that would have come from promoting his manager to the front office, instead anointed Fred Claire, a former sportswriter whose baseball experience was confined largely to public relations and marketing.
Thus began the Dodger blue period.
With the possible exception of Lasorda, no one whose path has crossed Claire's either professionally or personally in subsequent years could relish drawing that conclusion.
Claire is a gentleman who dedicated his life to the Dodgers' welfare and might have been more successful if O'Malley, particularly in recent years, hadn't curbed spending on players. Claire didn't need to be told last winter that the Dodgers would need a proven closer this season. But he didn't have money in his budget for one.
Also, Claire deserves more than a little credit for the Dodgers' World Series championship in 1988, his first full season in charge of their baseball destiny. He, after all, is the one who signed Kirk Gibson.
That, however, might have been the worst thing that could have happened to the Dodgers because it established Claire's credentials as a baseball man, prematurely as it turned out because the team has advanced to the playoffs only twice since and was immediately swept out of them both times.
Now, in a Napoleonic twist, Lasorda has been rescued from Elba, or wherever it was Claire sent him to scout pimply-faced youngsters in an attempt to keep him as far away from the Dodger front office as possible.
Better late than never, I say.
The man who made it happen was Bob Graziano.
"Over the course of the last several weeks, I have spent very many hours thinking about how to improve the team and how to get the team back on track," the man O'Malley recommended to succeed him as president said during a news conference Monday at Dodger Stadium.
"In the last week, I have spent considerable hours with Peter O'Malley, getting his advice and counsel," Graziano said. "On Sunday, I found it necessary to make changes. I came to the conclusion it didn't make any sense to wait until the end of the season, to wait three, four or five days."
Graziano and O'Malley summoned Claire and manager Bill Russell to a meeting on their return Sunday night from a series in Colorado and told them they had been, in Graziano's words, "transitioned out."
Much about the Dodgers has been transitioned out since Graziano, 40, was hired by O'Malley 13 years ago to supervise the team's finances.
Transforming a family business into a corporation is guaranteed to create enemies among fellow employees, but at least Graziano was an equal-opportunity cost cutter. He even discouraged some of O'Malley's philanthropic tendencies, declaring that the Dodgers no longer would be "the cash cow on the hill."
When it came time for the Fox Group to name a new president after purchasing the Dodgers, Graziano was chosen over Claire.
There was some confusion about whether Graziano actually was presiding when Fox executive Chase Carey took the lead in the Mike Piazza trade.
Fox, however, later issued a memorandum clarifying that the Dodgers would be managed like all their other subsidiaries, with the president in charge.
Graziano took it to heart. Whether he is running the Dodgers or ruining them, there is no question that he's the one doing it.
"Fox does business by putting people in positions and letting them rip," said one person who has close ties to the corporation. "This is his baby. They're paying him to find solutions."
Of course, Graziano is not blind to the admiration Fox officials have for Lasorda and no doubt realized that they would be happier if the Hall of Fame baseball man was in a better position to influence Dodger baseball.
But apparently no one at Fox demanded Graziano fire Claire and replace him with Lasorda. It was Graziano's decision. If it doesn't prove to be a good one, he'll be the next person transitioned out.