December 18, 2014

Dodgers Had “Healer” on Payroll for 5 Years

Really Frank & Jamie?  Really?  This story has got to rank as one of the great WTF moments in professional sports this year.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get to the story of the Dodgers and self-described scientist and healer Vladimir Shpunt, but honestly, I find the whole situation so incredibly bizarre that it undercuts a lot of the faith that I want to have in the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I refuse to believe that Ned Colletti knew anything about this.

Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:

Frank and Jamie McCourt paid him to help the team win by sending positive energy over great distances.

Shpunt says he is a scientist and a healer, not a magician. His method could not guarantee the Dodgers would win, he says, but it could make a difference.

According to Shpunt’s representative, this could increase the team’s chances of winning by 10 to 15%.  Sigh.  And how much does this service cost?  According to the article, Jamie McCourt’s lawyer says that Shpunt received “certainly six figures and even higher.”

But here’s my favorite part of Shaikin’s article:

Grossman [the Dodgers’ attorney] said Shpunt had been “introduced to the Dodger organization as someone who had the ability to observe the team, observe opposing teams and provide evaluations of performance of areas and strength and weakness.”

Hey Frank and Jamie: I meet the above qualifications.  Give me a call…my rates are reasonable.

Photo Credit: Tom Plant/

Thoughts on the Dodgers Finances

One of the “must read” Dodger sites today is Josh Fisher’s Dodger Divorce.  Josh does a great job of breaking down ever significant move that takes place in the court room, and explaining what it means to Dodger fans.

His latest story, Two McCourt Sons Are on the Payroll…Do We Care?, is interesting.  As was noted over the past few weeks, Drew and Travis McCourt make a combined $600,000 in annual salary.  Ok, great.  I always assumed they worked for the club in some daily capacity.  But Josh Fisher points out something different:

As of last fall, Drew was attending business school at Stanford and Travis worked at Goldman Sachs in New York.

Josh debates whether or not this is really something that we need to care about, given the larger problems with how funds generated by the Dodgers are spent.  But I would argue that this does matter.  It matters if you care about character.  Frank and Jamie McCourt are stewards of the Dodgers legacy, and that means doing the right thing.  This isn’t some random professional sports team.  This is the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I sincerely hope that Drew and Travis McCourt are providing some real value to justify their salaries as professionals and not exclusively because of who their parents are, but based on what’s come out in a myriad of court filings, I don’t think I have much reason for optimism.

Every time the curtain is pulled back on the Dodgers financial operations, questions emerge.  The Dodgers claim that Ned Colletti has the payroll he needs to sign make trades and build a championship caliber club.  Practically every national writer and columnist says that the payroll is definitely impacted due to the divorce.  I’m not sure we’re ever going to know the real truth, but I believe fans get upset about issues like Drew and Travis McCourt’s salaries because the team is believed by many to have not made the necessary investment in the free agent market during the offseason by acquiring a #1 starting pitcher, nor do they have the funds to make a significant splash at the trading deadline. 

All I ask is that Frank and Jamie McCourt do the right thing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans.  Is that really too much to ask?

It’s All About Ethier (and Blake), Baby!

Lots of news about Andre Ethier as the Dodgers go for their 10th consecutive win at Chavez Ravine tonight against the San Diego Padres (Russ Ortiz vs. Jon Garland).

First up, it was Andre Ethier Bobblehead Night last night!  The first 50,000 fans picked up one of the little guys, and Andre was even cool enough to sign a few autographs for the fans.  Roberto over at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy says that scalpers were outside the stadium asking fans if they wanted to sell their Ethier figurines.  Apparently the going rate was $40.  Crazy!  Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the Dodger Bobblehead Nights…and judging from the traffic numbers, this is a huge deal for many of you!

Next up for Ethier was filming an ESPN Sportscenter commercial this morning.  Josh Rawitch tweeted out this photo of ‘Dre in action, and notes in his blog that the Dodgers Media Network is going to have some behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot up sometime soon, which is cool.  Here a few other notes for the Ethierholics out there:

Well, he’s got an upcoming action figure night (July 8), a poster (Aug. 20) and a few other big time media requests we’ve gotten for him. We’re going to try to bang out most of these while he’s hurt because unfortunately, he can’t play at the moment. But, hopefully he’ll be back soon and by then, who knows, maybe the Dodgers will be on a 23-game winning streak…

Also, on an unrelated note, how great was it to see a newly scruffy Casey Blake come up huge last night, going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and a homer?  As Steve Dilbeck notes, Blake broke a 2 for22 skid with last night’s effort.  THE BEARD IS BACK!  Looking for my “In Beard We Trust” shirt as we speak so I can wear it to the game tonight.

Finally, I can’t recommend the blog Dodger Divorce enough for all things depressing when it comes to the McCourt v. McCourt legal action.  Josh has a great post up about the latest shady legal maneuverings and breaks it down for the common fan.  A must read every time something happens in the courtroom involving the team.

Looking forward to my first game of the season at Chavez Ravine as a regular fan tonight.  Hope to post a few updates and pics throughout the game.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010 (Ethier Bobblehead); LA Dodgers 2010 (Ethier Sportscenter)

Manny Ramirez Snubs Frank McCourt’s Suspension Requests

I don’t make a habit of reading the Boston Globe, but the recent Red Sox struggles against the Mets have made for some interesting reading (especially the fan comments) :)

While perusing the Globe, I did notice a small update on Manny’s progress against Frank McCourt’s Requests while he is out on suspension. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to report other than Manny has elected to skip all of what McCourt asked him to do other than apologize to the team.

In fact, Ramirez has flat-out rejected apologizing to fans for the incident thus far, simply saying, “I’m not ready.”

Welcome to Manny Being Manny and our latest chapter in a book full of love-hate experiences and off-the-field wishes that almost never come true.

The 25 million dollar man is either not getting good advice or refusing to listen to whatever advice is being presented to him. Either way, the end result is not good – the Dodgers are learning that they can do without Manny – something infathomable at the end of last season

McCourt’s requests seem simple enough:
1. Show remorse
2. Take batting practice
3. Continue to mentor the young bats
4. Address the team

So far, he has addressed the team…and promptly disappeared.

Do The Dodgers (or Alyssa) Really Welcome Manny being Manny?

Do The Dodgers (or Alyssa) Really Welcome Manny being Manny?

The 25 million dollar man is either not getting good advice or refusing to listen to whatever advice is being presented to him. Either way, the end result is not good – the Dodgers are learning that they can do without Manny – something infathomable at the end of last season.

Sure, there is no one power hitter who can replace Manny in the lineup. However, The Dodgers offense has come on strong after the first five games of Manny’s suspension and hasn’t looked back since. In addition, Frank McCourt will likely get most of the business benefits he planned on when re-signing Manny without having to pay the full $25 million (see previous story here).

Manny, if I were you I’d get on that “honey do” list that Frank sent your way before you outlive your usefulness to the only team that was willing to give you a reasonable contract in the offseason.