Categorized | Mark Timmons

Bills and Checks

Bills and Checks

Suddenly, the Dodgers starters look to be as good as any in baseball and Chad Billingsley is at the forefront.

Without belaboring the point, he is simply evolving into a very, very solid pitcher.

Tony Jackson of ESPN/Los Angeles has part of the reason why:

The turning point was that well-chronicled meeting with manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt the day after Billingsley was knocked around in Cincinnati on April 20. Billingsley lost his next start, five days later in Washington, but he lost it 1-0, and Honeycutt said that was when he saw the first signs of what he is now seeing on a regular basis from Billingsley.

“We saw a more consistent arm slot,” Honeycutt said. “We really just wanted him to get back to what he should be, and that was the basics, fastball-curveball. I didn’t want him to give up the cutter entirely, and he threw a few of them tonight. But we wanted him to get away from throwing it too much. It was a pitch he was using too much, and with that, he was changing his mechanics sometimes in order to throw it.”

By using it now as more of a “show-me” pitch, used on rare occasions just to give the other team something to think about, Billingsley is able to maintain the consistent mechanics he uses to throw all his other pitches. For now, he appears to have hit on that secret formula he had tried for so many years to find. As a result, he has become a pitcher who not only is supremely confident in himself, but who fosters extreme confidence on the part of the rest of the club whenever it is his day to pitch.

The team looks supremely confident… except when a ball is hit to LF – you never know what can happen with Manny!

It looks like Josh Fisher who writes Dodger Divorce has finally realized what I have been saying all along.  Here it is in part:

It goes without saying that the ownership situation is messy now. Even as a happy, intact family unit, selling the Dodgers would require the McCourts to untangle a string of affiliated companies and debt facilities so complicated it’s taken several months of expensive discovery just to unveil them. Should Jamie win half the team or a cash award so great the team must be sold, it’s going to happen at a discount, and an entity which might not have the wherewithal to operate the Dodgers would be encouraged to bid. Sound familiar?

The impassioned cries for Anyone Else are understandable, reasonable, and entirely defensible. But I’d urge everyone to consider just what that means: several likely years of turmoil. The sale itself would be an arduous, difficult process, and the new owner would likely experience significant growing pains. What’s more, there are just fewer folks out there right now who can afford a baseball team than there were three years ago. A fresh start has its advantages, to be sure–especially if whoever’s next is a true Southern Californian. But it’s likely to be a long, painful slog.

There is a significant possibility that the right answer for the long term is Frank McCourt. It’s hard to argue with the team’s success during his regime, and all indications are that he has moved past the perilously-thin margins characterizing the early days of McCourt ownership. The team is profitable, the fans are still engaged, and there is room to grow. Perhaps, with the financial strictures of the divorce behind him, he’ll be able to invest in the future of the organization, addressing shortcomings of the last few years. The TV rights come back in-house after the 2014 season, which will make the Dodgers all the more valuable. And, if things don’t work, a sale several years down the line will be without the urgency that would dramatically devalue the club in a sale this winter.

I’m not ready to throw my full support behind Frank just yet. Emotionally, it’s difficult to embrace a figure who has brought so much negativity to the Dodgers. But maybe that’s my point: there is no panacea here, no cure-all. Clamoring for Anyone Else is emotionally and philosophically justified, but we should be careful to remember that Anyone Else comes with problems, too. And this is where we come back to the divorce as a test case for fans’ attitudes towards their teams: what do we want?

If we want a fresh face we can relate to, an owner for whom the Dodgers are the reason to exist, an owner who truly understands what the Dodgers mean to Los Angeles, then yes: Anyone Else could be that owner. But Anyone Else could also be a relatively faceless group of investors that sees the Dodgers as a vehicle for growing and accumulating wealth. The team might be available for a song this winter, and those TV rights are so close you can taste them. Anyone Else might be everything we’ve grown to distaste about Frank McCourt, but at least he’s cut his teeth as an owner.

If we want to win above all else, Frank McCourt could be the answer. He’s got more money than even his wife knew, he’s had some experience in figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and he’s learning how to stay out of the way. And there’s another factor at work, here, too: should he come out of this mess with the team intact, he’ll needto win. It’s the only way back into the fans hearts (and wallets). I know it, you know it, Frank knows it. Say it along with me, Frank, “The difficult events of the last several months have made me reconsider my priorities, and after my sons, the Dodgers are the most important thing in my life.” And so begins the rest of the McCourt era. If, over the course of several years, Frank’s actions match his words, everything is forgiven.

It’s with a great deal of reluctance I sing the praises of Frank McCourt, Potential Long-Term Solution. And, obviously, whatever degree I support Frank is based only on what we know; yet more skeletons may lurk. But my interest in the entire fiasco has never been about Frank or Jamie, pools or jets, stadiums or campaigns. It’s always been about the Dodgers.

So, for the moment, I’m not going to write Frank off. However these next few months play out, my end-game is the same: I will support the candidate best able to sustain an organization I can be proud to call my own. As it is with analysis, the past only matters to the extent it colors the future. And, for everything that’s happened, I’m not sure the future is better left to Anyone Else than Frank McCourt. Not quite yet, anyway. Lord knows we’ve got plenty of time to sort it out.

Let me translate that for you:  If Frank sells the Dodgers, the odds are it will be another 10-20 years before the Dodgers win anything.  Frank McCourt is our next best chance.  So quit wishing for a new owner, because if that happens, it will probably mean disaster for the Dodgers.

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

3 Responses to “Bills and Checks”

  1. lawdog says:

    So, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t? I don’t buy that malarkey for a minute. Sure, there’s a chance we end up with a bigger asshole as owner. I suppose there are worse human beings than Frank, but you’d have turn over a million rocks before you’d have a chance to find one.

    If Frank is forced to sell the team the odds are better than 50-50 we’d end up owned by a better person than McCheap. Scan the league and tell me how many true bastards outside of NY and LA really run franchises?

    And the Commissioner can veto any sale as being bad for the game. Now, I’ll concede that Selig is a 24 karat asshole himself, but he has to realize that if he let’s a McCheap clone get his paws on the Dodger franchise, it will hurt the entire national league. Imagine what happens to the league if LA fans get fed up and boycott games, both live and through MLB cable/computer deals? It would be an economic disaster.

    I also have to further beg to differ with the author of that piece on McCheap’s divorce on almost every point he thinks he’s made. The recent depression was manipulated by a handful of people that made a small percentage of the population obscenely rich while eliminating the middle class and stealing from the “poor boxes” for the lower classes and homeless. This new group of gazillionaires has created a huge pool of potential buyers that would be able to throw billions at the Dodger payroll and never need to earn penny one. They could use the team as a legitimate tax shelter and make money by losing large amounts of it. Or they could become owners just for the prestiege factor and the economic power it would bring.

    No. we are damned lucky our team found itself and turned things around. If Kurveshaw was still walking as many as he fanned and getting his but handed to him before he managed to get through 6 innings, if C-Note still pitched like “Lucky Buck” instead of a million C-notes; if Ely didn’t arrive and save our butts, if Ethier didn’t turn into a Ted Williams clone overnight, if Manny still looked like the Manny of last year after the suspension, if Looney still looked mediocre with a bat in his hands, if our bull pen still was blowing chunks, if we didn’t find a .300 hitting ss who can pick it and throw accurately off the scrap heap. If, well you get the picture. This team is winning right now in spite of an owner who refused to go find a starter when we desperately needed one and has been filling holes with cheap geezers and wannabes furiously trying to hide holes with a fresh coat of the cheapest paint he can find….

    How long do you think he’ll be able to produce a contender using smoke, mirrors and way more than his share of fantastic good luck? :shock:

  2. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    If McCourt holds onto the team and is willing to invest more heavily as he gets closer to 2014, then I have no problem with him remaining the owner. If not, then we do need a new owner. But NOT “Anyone Else”. And I don’t think anyone on this site has ever advocated a new owner, no matter who. If the Dodgers are sold, it does matter who the buyer is. It would have to be a buyer well-heeled enough to purchase the team for cash, and able to follow through financially after that. In other words, it has to be someone with the resources to make a long term investment, and the ability to spend while waiting for TV deals, etc. to kick in. And someone who has the passion to win, and who also understands that winning is what brings in dollars, be it from sponsorship, attendance, concessions, and even the ability to raise prices.

  3. mark says:

    Lawdog,

    IF chickens had lips they would be people!

    You included about a zillion if’s, most of which I expected to happen to a young team who is gaining maturity.

    Here’s the thing: The McCourt saga will play out… probably by the end of the year, and we can see who is right!

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