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T.J. SIMERS

At the end of the day, it's Mannion who's in charge of the Dodgers

He's been named officially now to run the team, as Frank McCourt goes to his office in Beverly Hills and Colletti finds no problem with it.

December 08, 2009|T.J. Simers
  • Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti, left, has a new boss in team President Dennis Mannion.
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti, left, has a new boss in team President… (Photos by Stephen Dunn and…)

Called the Dodgers' switchboard trying to get in touch with the guy who is responsible for business operations, marketing, sponsorships, finance, ticket sales, human resources, communications, legal affairs and now baseball operations as well, while also becoming Ned Colletti's new boss.

Thought it'd be just simpler to ask for the Grand Poobah.

"Who is that?" said the telephone operator, and when I tell you Dennis Mannion has been named officially now to run the whole Dodgers operation, I'd expect the same reaction: "Who is that?"

What happened to Frank McCourt?

The last time some faceless suit took control of the Dodgers, Fox was trading away Mike Piazza -- GM Fred Claire the last to know before turning in his resignation.

No idea if Colletti is going to quit. He wasn't answering his phone, probably needing Mannion's permission to do so.

"My main function at the end of the day is going to have the two worlds of business and baseball," Mannion says, "integrating with each other."

Amazing, I thought, the Dodgers were able to win the division a year ago without integrating with each other.

Isn't Colletti integrating enough?

"Ned is a very good communicator, but everyone can do better," Mannion says. "One side is striving for net profit here and the other side is striving to win. At the end of the day we're hoping our revenue ops don't get in the way of winning and we don't want our desire to win to get in the way of making revenue."

Right now I would imagine Colletti is at the winter meetings in Indianapolis looking for a gobbledygook translator.

COLLETTI AND I both attended Northern Illinois University, so our vocabulary is limited. But from what Mannion was saying and what I could understand, he seems interested in the Dodgers' paying customers.

I say that, but you should know he's the guy who turned up the noise in Dodger Stadium at the end of the season in an attempt to blow everyone's brains out.

"Game ops should be thought out," he says, so why didn't he think of that before trying to make poor Nancy Bea go deaf?

"The inning breaks should be fun and entertaining," Mannion continues, "not just trivia questions and crowd shots. I think fans should count on more than the smile cam.

"We'll work on it [the loud music]. But I did feel the in-game entertainment needed more pop."

He says the stadium sound system and scoreboard will be upgraded, but not before 2011 -- making earmuffs still a very nice Christmas gift for the Dodgers fan in the family.

There will be no significant stadium upgrades this year. He says improvements are needed on the reserve and loge levels, and an effort will be made to shorten lines with the introduction of portable concession stands.

As for the impact McCourt's divorce might have on the team's budget, Mannion says, "I do not believe in this year, 2010, the Dodgers' payroll will be impacted by anything relative to the McCourts' personal life.

"I can't predict what will happen in 2011. I'm not a family lawyer and don't understand what might happen in the long term. But for 2010, I don't see any."

He says season-ticket sales are ahead of last year's pace. They just sell tickets to all the McCourt lawyers, and they do that.

In addition to sweeping the floors, Mannion sets the payroll with McCourt's approval. He won't say what it will be this season. He says it makes no sense to divulge it to the competition -- or to fans, I presume, who might be interested in knowing how dedicated the Dodgers are going to be this season.

As for Frank McCourt, he was so bullish on running the Dodgers, he works now out of an office in Beverly Hills.

"Frank has had a desire for quite a while to separate himself from the day-to-day operations and focus his time on the developmental opportunity," Mannion says. "Additional ventures to look at are the development of the 360 acres around the stadium and ballpark improvement.

"But I should say -- Frank isn't absent at all. He knows everything that's going on."

Odd, because he didn't seem to know anything about the team's most recent signing, Justin Miller, when I talked to McCourt's back at the USC game.

"YOU LOOKING for me?" says Colletti, calling back and proving he needs no permission to sound like the former PR guy for the Cubs.

"I've known Dennis a long time and we get along great. He's going to let us run baseball and I will keep him informed. I find no problem with this."

In his new position as Grand Poobah, Mannion tries to explain how it will all work. Boiling down all the corporate gibberish -- it sounds as if he wants more meetings.

"At the end of the day, we just don't want anyone siloed out," he says.

I don't know about you, but if it means more meetings with someone who says "at the end of the day" so much, I'd rather be siloed out.

The Dodgers say Mannion has been running the day-to-day business operation for the last year, but the news here is the guy in charge of how high to turn up the music now has a Roy Halladay opinion that counts.

OK, so as resumes go, Mannion has championship experience working with the Baltimore Ravens, and if the Dodgers win the Super Bowl, he will deserve the credit.

He's also spent 16 years with the Phillies, which means living in the Philadelphia area -- amazing he'd come across so likable. His Phillies insight, though, meant nothing the last two years.

But now he really does control the Dodgers' fate, so I ask the obvious, do you know Juan Castro's batting average?

"Who is Juan Castro?" he says.

Mannion's joking, and while the Dodgers have had their share of jokers in the front office, few have been so relaxed as to laugh at themselves. It's a trait that might come in handy.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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