Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsDodgers

T.J. SIMERS

Peter O'Malley is the wrong person to lead the Dodgers' rebirth

After the McCourts' tenure, Peter O'Malley might be a popular choice to take over the Dodgers again. But the team was irrelevant during his last nine years as the Dodgers' owner.

November 03, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, left, greets owner Frank McCourt at the L.A. Coliseum's Court of Honor, where a plaque honoring former owner Walter O'Malley was unveiled.
Former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, left, greets owner Frank McCourt… (Jon SooHoo / Los Angeles…)

Here I go again, ripping Mother Teresa.

I don't like it, so the question will come, "Then why do it?"

But if someone is going to criticize Frank McCourt for being a boob, as easy as it is, what about when a local saint might stray too far?

Peter O'Malley is one of the most thoughtful and considerate people I have ever met. And so much more.

But he's the wrong person to replace the Parking Lot Attendant.

I'm not surprised he has expressed an interest in running the Dodgers again. It was his life and his family's legacy.

And how often do we hear about folks walking away from what they loved best only to return later wanting to recapture the magic of old?

And how many people have crossed paths with O'Malley the last few years, the first words out of their mouths probably: "Wish you still owned the Dodgers"?

O'Malley will be the sentimental choice, maybe the most popular one, to make folks feel good again about the Dodgers, but only by those struck by amnesia.

The Dodgers were irrelevant under O'Malley his last nine years on the job, as horrible a thing as anyone can say about a sports team.

The Dodgers advanced to the playoffs twice in that time but failed to win a playoff game. They were mediocre at best, with no promise of better games to be played any time soon.

I found something I wrote a year ago and wasn't surprised to see I had repeated it almost word for word.

"Peter O'Malley is the finest gentleman I have ever met in sports," I wrote in September of last year.

Whether they know him personally or not, most folks would seem to agree. He received a standing ovation a year ago March when attending a Sandy Koufax-Joe Torre event for charity.

Someone says, "Class," and the first thing to come to mind is O'Malley.

But then I also wrote last September, "The suggestion made by O'Malley that McCourt sell to local ownership is hypocritical given his decision to put the Dodgers in the hands of Fox."

A few days earlier in The Times, O'Malley had made some scathing remarks — by his gentlemanly standards — about the McCourts.

He said it was time they sold, which was like saying it's going to be dark tonight.

Yet his remarks caused quite a stir, and although unquestionably on target, they also came across as somewhat self-serving in his condemnation.

"Baseball and the city have got to get it right this time," O'Malley said, while never mentioning some would say he started all this and got it wrong when he sold the team to Fox.

"No one probably has a problem applauding O'Malley for his stinging remarks," I wrote at the time, "but to be fair O'Malley doesn't deserve a free pass just because everyone is in the mood to pile on the McCourts."

When O'Malley went public with his criticism of the McCourts, he told The Times' Bill Shaikin: "The Dodgers are a jewel and earned that reputation not just based on winning games, but on how the franchise was managed."

It sounded good, given what we know of the McCourts, but it was far too disingenuous for the likes of Peter O'Malley.

In explaining away the Dodgers' lack of success under his leadership down the stretch and dismissing any achieved by the McCourts, he hearkened back to scrapbook memories of the Dodgers.

Had everyone been satisfied to hold on to those, he would never have sold the Dodgers.

He could have continued to grow fresh flowers and cut the trees to make Dodger Stadium appear so picturesque, but to compete he understood big changes were needed.

His plan to build a football stadium adjacent to Dodger Stadium had everything to do with encouraging the city of Los Angeles to help him later build a new baseball stadium.

He thought that once folks experienced the football upgrade, they would insist on the same for the city's baseball team.

He had no stomach for conflict like his father, so when the mayor of Los Angeles told him the city was going to focus instead on building a new arena downtown, he was done as owner of the Dodgers.

Now he's back, although I question whether he's all in.

I would imagine anyone who wants to buy the Dodgers would first make a call to O'Malley in the hopes of signing him on as the ceremonial face of their ownership group.

A big improvement, I concede, over the previous self-proclaimed face of the Dodgers.

And who better to get Commissioner Bud Selig's attention than one of his old baseball fraternity brothers?

Who better to win public support than someone who reminds so many of their best childhood memories and summer nights at the old ballyard?

But it's band-aid talk, fans grabbing on to the familiar, a reminder why so many old coaches and managers are hired over and over again.

I think it would be great if the next owner of the Dodgers persuades Peter O'Malley to throw out the season's first pitch.

But what happens next with the Dodgers is about finding an owner capable of moving forward with grand plans to make the Dodgers relevant again as a major-market franchise rather than trying to recapture the good old days.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|