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Dodgers' Stan Kasten spins it his way, leaves your head spinning

New Dodgers President Stan Kasten has his own set of rules when dealing with the media, and one of them is 'accentuate the positive.' That just might put him at odds with a certain Page 2 columnist.

June 11, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • Stan Katsen stands outside of Dodger Stadium on May 31.
Stan Katsen stands outside of Dodger Stadium on May 31. (Patrick Fallon / Bloomberg )

Someone wanted to know how it went with Stan Kasten, the Dodgers' new president, now that I have love in my heart after seeing a spiritualist.

Here's what Kasten had to say Monday when we came together to commune: "I'm entitled to say, 'no comment.' I'm entitled to evade. I'm entitled to change the subject."

How do you think it went?

Maybe Kasten is an acquired taste. Maybe he will turn out to be what the Dodgers need to make an economic go of it after being left bankrupt. Maybe first impressions are not his strength.

But right now, what a blowhard.

"I have two rules for broadcasters and the media," he says. "These are my rules: If it's personal or not true, then I'm going to have a problem, OK? And there are issues I don't want to talk about and that's my right."

That sounds like three rules.

"I view my role as president, of just not the team but any company, always trying to put the most positive spin I can on everything for my company and to motivate my staff and my team."

And there really is no stopping him when he starts talking, at one point my tape recorder stopping out of exhaustion.

"You should always count on me accentuating the positive; you should always count on that," he says. "You should always count on me defending everything we do and every person who works for me and when we make mistakes I'll try to own up to it, but I'll always be accentuating the positive. That's what I do."

We all know people who talk a lot and say nothing. For the most part we try to avoid them.

But this guy is charged with the task of bringing people back to Dodger Stadium. And so far folks seem to be avoiding him.

And how shocking is that? Anyone who followed Frank McCourt as owner of the Dodgers figured to be greeted like some sort of savior.

But it really hasn't worked out that way. Add the fact the Dodgers have the best record in baseball, and how odd to find folks still reluctant to embrace this team again.

It was T-shirt night with the Angels in town, and while there was a better-than-usual turnout, do you really think folks stayed home to watch hockey?

"We've been given a fantastic reception," Kasten spin in disagreement. And remember, to the very end fans were still asking for McCourt's autograph and asking to pose for pictures with him.

Once betrayed, maybe Dodgers fans are waiting for the new management to prove itself. But it's as if they don't understand that.

The Dodgers had a chance to make a splash this week — money no object, we've been told, for owners spending $2.15 billion — and Kasten admitting they were very high on Cuban prospect Jorge Soler.

The Cubs, though, outbid the Dodgers for Soler. And yet it wasn't about money, Kasten says.

"We fell short in other ways," Kasten says.

When asked to explain what that means, he says, "It means what it means."

And what does that mean?

"Just leave it at that," says Kasten.

Now when you can't explain the small stuff, what happens when it comes time to comment on monumental decisions?

The future of the Dodgers rests with Kasten, the new owners say. So knowing that, I wondered why he left the Washington Nationals. The Nationals appear to be an organization on the rise, but when Kasten's contract expired, he was gone.

"When my obligation was over I chose to leave," says Kasten. "It was for personal reasons."

Talk around baseball is Kasten was at odds with ownership, which could be pertinent here down the road if true. When I ask if he had such problems, he says, "The reasons I left are personal and you will allow that I can keep them personal."

I do not allow, but obviously this is someone who grew up in the "I've Got a Secret" era.

I ask about the Dodger Stadium experience, beginning with Lon Rosen. He replaced the ballpark organ for the most part with loud music and also dismissed Ross Porter.

"I think Lon is very close to all of us," Kasten says. "Lon is going to be involved; we just don't know to what extent yet."

I ask about improvements in the fan experience, and Kasten says, "There are no more concession lines" in Dodger Stadium.

You are probably a better judge of that than I am.

I ask about improving the team at the trading deadline now that the World Series is a reality given the team's record, and he says the minor league system is short on prospects. And that's what will be needed to make a deal.

But he says the team is always trying to improve, and I'm still waiting for the team official who says, "We will never try to improve."

He says he really likes Andre Ethier and asks if I do as well.

"No," I tell him. "Too selfish."

A moody and insecure Ethier is always talking contract, a year ago worrying he might be released.

"So you wouldn't sign him?" Kasten says, obviously knowing the Dodgers will.

I didn't say that, but it would be nice if the team urged him to make the mature adjustment to be included in the team picture at some point.

The interview over, I wished him well in not ruining the first-place team that McCourt left for him.

He had no comment.

IT WAS Jaime Jarrin T-shirt and Tribute Night at Dodger Stadium and they had a number of people speaking highly of Jarrin on the stadium scoreboard.

Magic Johnson was one of them, saying of Jarrin, "The best voice out there, No. 1."

As soon I get the chance to talk to Johnson, I will see if I can find out whether he thinks No. 2 is Bob Miller or Vin Scully.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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