Frank and Jamie McCourt, those feudin' and fussin' co-owners and estranged spouses, spent good money — really good money — on an elderly man who sat at home in Boston, watched Dodgers games on TV, and sent positive energy.
Yes, this is a thing that happened. Beginning in 2004, 71-year-old Vladimir Shpunt has been retained by the team, with an annual bonus of "six figures or more" based on how the team performed, and his only job is to direct positive thinking to the players, from 3000 miles away.
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.
"Maybe it is just a little," he said. "Maybe it can help."
He actually was a scientist once, in the USSR. Perhaps not a very good one, with his research appearing only in "second-tier" journals. Also, there's this:
At one point, as Shpunt's research team studied how medical devices transmit electrical current through the human body, the devices malfunctioned. Yet energy was measurably transmitted, and Shpunt concluded he must have been the source.
He immigrated to the US, and came to the attention of Jamie McCourt, who had a severe eye infection. He treated her, both in person and at a distance, and apparently she was cured. The next logical step was to put him on the team.
"V energy," helped the Dodgers win the west in 2004. But as so often happens with faith healers, the McCourts ignored the fact that they finished 71-91 the next season, again with Shpunt sending his good vibes their way. Shpunt "diagnosed the disconnects" in the coach and GM, and sure enough, they were fired after the season.
In 2005, Shpunt treated Jayson Werth for a wrist injury, again, both in person and at a distance. It didn't work, and later, Werth complained that the Dodgers had misdiagnosed and mistreated the injury.
The McCourts severed their relationship with Shpunt in 2008. And with each other the following year.
Dodgers tap into 'V energy' [Los Angeles Times]