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Dodgers are neglected kids in the McCourts' quarrel

T.J. SIMERS

Ever since Jamie filed for divorce, Frank has disappeared, and the team's off-season business is left to others to handle.

December 02, 2009|T.J. Simers
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt shares a laugh with Lakers star Kobe Bryant during Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt shares a laugh with Lakers star Kobe Bryant… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

We've all been there, down to the last $167,000 in our checking accounts.

Poor Frank McCourt, and don't you know it, the wife still needing something like $467,634 a month just to make ends meet.

The guy is probably going to need a second job, and in this economy there's no guarantee anyone is going to be hiring parking lot attendants.

In the past, I've helped Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA when I could, but kids are so resilient, so I wonder now if I should be spearheading a new charity dedicated to keeping the Dodgers afloat. You know, maybe something like "McBroke's Little Buddies."

I'll bet I can even get some of the kids at the hospital to chip in.

When McCourt spoke for the first time as Dodgers owner, on Jan. 30, 2004, he told a room full of reporters, " 'A' stands for accountability, 'B' for baseball, baseball, baseball, 'C' for community," and now we know what "D" stands for.

Ever since the Screaming Meanie filed for divorce, Frank has disappeared. No matter that on the first day on the job as Dodgers owner he promised everyone he would always be "transparent."

Maybe that's why he let everyone know Jamie was doing something inappropriate with her driver.

But when it comes to baseball, Frank has nothing to say to you folks, a spokesman confirming as much Monday. Unlike other baseball owners, circumstances have changed for the McCourts, which is why there is a pressing need to hear from Frank, who claims to be the team's only owner.

As most baseball followers know, there is no off-season now in baseball, arbitration choices made Tuesday, both local teams already raising ticket prices and the winter meetings starting soon.

The hot-stove league for fans is the fun of what a team might do to get better, but right now the Dodgers lack leadership. There is no way of knowing which direction the Dodgers will be going this off-season.

A team spokesman said Dennis Mannion has been running the Dodgers' day-to-day operation for a year -- odd, I thought, that it would be announced a year later.

Don't know much about Mannion other than he was the guy who ratted out the Screaming Meanie in court documents claiming she has been doing nothing, which leaves open the question: What's Frank been doing?

I thought he was in charge of the Dodgers.

Joe Torre and Ned Colletti can say they're not expecting the divorce to affect their efforts to improve the Dodgers, but they don't know.

A Dodgers spokesman, who usually knows nothing, said McCourt's private bank account is different from the one used to run the Dodgers.

Maybe that's where he's stashing the money you'd expect to find in his personal checking account, the little kids at Mattel being swindled then if they go ahead and become one of McBroke's Little Buddies.

Or maybe Frank dips into the Dodgers' funds to pay off the old lady every month, and what's one less starting pitcher? We just don't know.

He got away with deferring most of the money he owes Manny Ramirez, but I'm guessing the Screaming Meanie isn't going to take deferred support payments.

We don't know because we don't know what's going on inside the Dodgers, Frank apparently worried anything said might work against him in his divorce.

So why would anyone buy Dodgers season tickets not knowing what's going to become of the team?

Does Frank have the money to make good on the raises players are going to get in arbitration, or does he have to trade some of them? Can the Dodgers sign a free agent? Or two?

Frank doesn't seem to think he owes fans any explanation, so why should fans owe the Dodgers anything?

This might be the year for everyone to stay home and watch the Dodgers on TV, really a blessing in disguise if this is going to be Vin Scully's last year in the booth.

NO ONE can ever say Page 2 isn't thoughtful, if not downright considerate.

I offered Pete Carroll a chance to apologize for his display of poor sportsmanship against UCLA at the start of his Tuesday news conference.

In a shocker, he declined.

Not only that, but the guy who lives with the "always compete" mantra then went belly up, essentially calling a timeout.

He does that, of course, and I had no choice but to go deeper into this controversy and ask him, "What's his deal?"

He not only tried to gloss over the controversy, but refused to answer any more questions raised by Page 2.

When the news conference ended, he said, "that was fun," explaining he didn't want to discuss it in front of the other media, for fear, I guess, it might convince them to ask tough questions rather than fawn all over him as they normally do. He said we could talk further one on one elsewhere.

But Carroll had already lost me in his opening remarks, calling the USC-UCLA contest "a tremendous football game." How could you believe anything he had to say after that?

He also said both teams nearly came to blows because UCLA players advanced on the Trojans, who were excited and cheering for their kickoff team as they always do.

Weren't they taunting UCLA? He said he didn't know.

When reminded he was standing right there, he indicated he would have no more to say on the subject.

Although I'm no fan of Rick Neuheisel, and ordinarily a big admirer of Carroll, Neuheisel has handled the controversy in recent radio interviews with class. He took no shots at USC, said his players needed to play better defense on the long pass and said he can't have his players losing their self-control as they did.

In contrast, Carroll wrote it off as fun, taking no responsibility for USC coming off as bad winners and taunting UCLA.

As one of the nation's top coaches, he needs to be a better example, and be more accountable. He, as well as his players, should not become the poster child or children for bush league behavior.

That's Jim Harbaugh's job.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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