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Team's on Shaky Ground as It Halts Stadium Work

The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

February 02, 2005|T.J. Simers

There appear to be three plausible explanations why the Dodgers don't feel morally compelled to protect their fans and continue to spend money on earthquake-safety improvements at Dodger Stadium:

* The Parking Lot Attendant needed the money to make good on the loan he defaulted on in Boston.

* Reader Mark Regan concluded in an e-mail: "I guess the Dodgers don't figure on doing anything earth-shattering."

* Or, as Jamie McCourt told a group of business leaders Tuesday at a Town Hall Los Angeles luncheon, "Baseball parks are like sanctuaries," especially if you're lucky enough to avoid the falling chunks of concrete.

My suggestion: If you intend to buy tickets to see the Dodgers play this season, ask to be seated in the half of the stadium that has already been retrofitted thanks to the good work by News Corp., and who thought anyone would ever type the words "thanks to the good work by News Corp."?

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TOWN HALL Los Angeles invited the Screaming Meanie to speak on "Strengthening Communities with L.A. Assets," I presume because she's had the experience of buying the Dodgers with Fox's assets.

She was happy to oblige, of course, because Dodger Stadium sits on a fault line, and any chance to get out of the office these days is probably a good move.

The emcee noted in introductions that McCourt was recently included in Boston magazine's "Top 100 Most Powerful People." Her resume cited the same thing. I wanted to learn more about the honor, but I couldn't find any recent reference in Boston magazine to McCourt, the last mention coming in its May 2003 issue, when she was No. 60 on a list of "The 100 Women Who Run This Town," and her husband, Frank, was "rumored to be trying to buy the Angels."

I can't imagine she'd embellish her resume, not satisfied to be named one of the top women and instead making it one of the top 100 people. I'm sure there's a recent list naming her one of the "most powerful people in Boston," but the folks in our library, who are pretty good at conducting these kind of searches, are still looking.

As for her prepared speech, it was very nice until she got to the part about sanctuaries, an odd remark when you consider the morning newspaper suggested fans might be risking their lives in L.A.'s 43-year-old park.

McCourt told the audience that the Dodgers are committed to taking care of their fans, and so I presume they will be upgrading their first-aid stations in the event the Big One hits Dodger Stadium.

One of the Dodger vice presidents told The Times a day earlier: "At this time there are no seismic requirements necessary." I just hope it wasn't one of the VPs who said the Dodgers were not trying to trade Shawn Green.

When it came time for questions, I wanted to ask about the sanctuary but didn't want to take time away from those who had paid money to hear what she had to say. I remained mum.

"Will the price of Dodger Dogs be raised?" someone asked.

"I know the concessionaires are thinking about it, but the final decision hasn't been made," she said, and I'd take that as a yes.

There were also a number of questions about how women might become more involved in baseball, and what was her advice? I was a little surprised when she didn't say, "You might want to marry someone who is going to buy a baseball team."

When the luncheon was over, I said, "Hello," and she kind of groaned but said, "Hi," then asked, "Is this on or off the record?"

I told her "Hi" was on the record, and reminded her that she's the one who made a point of saying reporters write down everything she says.

"Do you know how that came about?" she said. "I'll tell you off the record."

I told her I don't go off the record, and she said, "Let me talk to the nice people here first, and then I'll talk to you."

She walked off with some nice guy, returned to say, "I'll be right back," and then left again. Who knew there were that many nice people in the world?

A few minutes later, a woman came to me and asked for my phone number.

This happens to me a lot, of course. She said McCourt had to meet with some high school kids, do some interviews, and she would call me later.

It has been nine hours, day turning to night, no food, water or the chance to use the facilities. Off the record, I guess I'm as surprised as you are, but I don't think the Screaming Meanie is going to call.

*

NEIL NITTA, competing in a Clipper-sponsored contest, said he filled out some ballots at red lights. He had his mother, who was recovering from carpal tunnel syndrome, help him, and when they finished they submitted 9,160 All-Star ballots to the Clippers, giving Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and Corey Maggette a 9,160-vote head start on the rest of the NBA.

The Clippers honored Nitta on Monday night. In fact the Clippers were so impressed with Nitta's dedication, they have now offered to send him to the All-Star game or have him join them for a road game. (If only he could play point guard).

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