Frank and Jamie McCourt have a proposition for you, Dodgers fans. Instead of signing Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia to put a competitive team on the field, wouldn't you rather have 50 brand new Little League fields? They'll even throw in some bats and a bucket or two of baseballs. Think about it, citizens of LA; it's one or the other. With the economy in the shape it's in, you can't have both. Sadly, I'm not joking about this.
Here's what Jamie McCourt, Dodgers president and wife of owner Frank McCourt, said recently:
"If you bring somebody in to play and pay them, pick a number, $30 million, does that seem a little weird to you?" Jamie McCourt asked in an interview at the Evergreen Recreation Center in East Los Angeles. "That's what we're trying to figure out. We're really trying to see it through the eyes of our fans. We're really trying to understand, would they rather have the 50 fields?"
The McCourts recently announced the formation of a charity that would build up to 50 youth athletic fields around Los Angeles, a noble gesture until one realizes that it may be an excuse not to lay out big bucks for high-priced free agents like Manny. The whole hing is not sitting well with Dodgers fans, as you may imagine.
In an LA Times online poll which asks would LA residents rather "pay a player $30 million or have the 50 fields?", paying the free agent won with a hefty 64.5 percent of more than 9,000 respondents. As well it should, said Times columnist Bill Plashke.
Reaction? Where do I start? No, No, No, No. No, $30 million is not weird, it's the price of competitive baseball.
No, fans should never be forced to choose between a charity and a championship, that's absurd, is this a baseball team or a telethon? The fans want their money to go to one field only, the one occupied by the Dodgers, anything else is unethical and even immoral. No, guaranteed contracts are not the deal of the devil, they are common baseball business.
No, fans should not have to worry that signing CC Sabathia means some poor child doesn't eat that night, that's beyond belief. Who runs this team, Charles Dickens?
The Dodgers made and then withdrew an offer to Ramirez for two years at $45 million, saying that they mighthave to pay less because of the nature of guaranteed contracts. Without the guarantee, say the Dodgers, they might be able to both build he fields and pay for free agents like Sabathia and Ramirez.
Asked about it later by Plascke, Jamie McCourt attempted to deflect the criticism.
So, philosophically, you think it's wiser to invest in charity than championships? If you really believe this, should you even be owning a baseball team?
"What? We love owning the Dodgers more than ever, that has nothing to do with it," she said. "I was just talking about how buying players for high salaries seems insensitive when you contrast it with buying these dream fields. The difference is so stark, so vivid."
Then why did you even imply otherwise?
"In these tough times, with so many people losing their jobs, isn't it fair, philosophically, to at least ask about the dollars?" she said.
Yeah, here's a question. Why did you raise parking last season from $10 to $15?
Dodgers Owners Need A Huge Reality Check [Los Angeles Times]