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Off Base
Baseball's Very Own Snidely Whiplash

October 2, 2005

Forget Rollie Fingers and the Swingin A’s. That Billy Beane, now there’s a man with a sinister grin and mustache.

Suppose for a minute. Just suppose. What if Beane’s “Moneyball” were more than just a blueprint for competing in baseball without spending a lot of money?

What if the real master plan is a design to methodically contaminate the sport’s front offices, one by one, leading to the ultimate demise of all but one club, Beane’s? What if such evil-genius actually existed and continued to flourish, right before our eyes?

Say Beane brings his disciples along deliberately, imparting upon them just enough knowledge to get the basic idea, or so they think, while being oh-so-careful not to give away the whole store.

The apprentice general manager studies at the foot of the man, and eventually, at precisely the right moment, Beane sets the eager lad free. Into the world he goes, equipped with the latest software, a pocket protector, and most importantly, a glowing letter of recommendation.

“He’s always the smartest guy in the room,” says Beane. And since it was Beane’s shop, after all, he knew full well that while in Oakland, Paul DePodesta and JP Ricciardi were never actually in the same room at the same time. He’d always seen to it that they were separated by at least a hallway or closet door.

Cadets Paul and JP safely entrenched with long-term deals in important North American cities, Beane goes to work on his next batch of pimply-faced soles, and in a few years, two complete divisions of Major League Baseball, one in each league, are corrupted. Slowly but surely, the other four divisions fall prey, leaving the Oakland A’s alone at the top, the one truly pure club. What then. What if…

So 2005 turned out to be all about Paul DePodesta. The Dodgers were his baby. It’s all on him. His was the single worst performance by a g.m. in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Fred Claire was a brain surgeon by comparison; Kevin Malone a wise sage.

Just our luck, huh? The one vice president they didn’t fire.

Not another syllable about injuries, please. Injuries happen. But when you handicap your team with players known to be fragile, and then other guys go down, you don’t get to use the excuse.

Jim Tracy is the victim of DePodesta’s labor, but it’s time. There was but one season, 2004, in which Tracy truly managed well, when he was able to overcome his boss’s mistakes. Jim Harrick had one great year too, but all in all he wasn’t a good coach, worthy of such an important position. And at least a won a championship.

Yes, Jim Tracy is a nice man. That’s worth a ton in the grand scheme of things, but in baseball it really doesn’t matter that he’s not Larry Bowa. And while perhaps it’s true that Tracy’s players play for him, a truly fine manager gets his players to win for him.

Jim Tracy is a good but unremarkable man, saddled with the great misfortune of falling beneath Paul DePodesta on the Dodgers table of organization. But it’s time…

Awards: Chris Carpenter blew it. Dontrelle Willis gets the National League Cy Young Award.

AL Cy: Bartolo Colon.

NL MVP: Andruw Jones. The entire staff agreed on this one, so complain all you want about Albert Pujols and Derrek Lee. We don’t care.

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez. And btw, A-Rod is so the Yankees MVP.

NL Manager: Bobby Cox, the greatest regular season manager in baseball history.

AL Manager: Mike Scioscia, with a monster assist from Bud Black. For his work with John Lackey alone, Black deserves a medal.

Lackey is one of a handful of men to rise to the occasion in the postseason, exceeding expectations, and forge a career from the benefit of that one great moment. Johnny Podres is another; Dave Henderson another.

Bobby Thomson, Don Larsen and Bruce Kison, not so much. Calvin Schiraldi, of course, is an example of the opposite…

NL ROY: Willy Tavares.

AL ROY: Huston Street.

NL Comeback: Flipped a coin (really) and it came out Andy Pettitte over Ken Griffey, Jr. Junior will have another shot in 2007.

AL Comeback: Chose alphabetically, Jay Gibbons over Richie Sexson.

NL Executive: Tim Purpura.

AL Executive: Ken Williams over Mark Shapiro. Reverse alphabetical order.

Good Will Hunting: Each week in this space, we post at least one suggestion to the Dodgers brass. Easy to achieve steps the club can take to get back in our good graces. Click here to chime in.

Here’s one. Either Orel Hershiser or Mickey Hatcher would appease the fans, be respected by the players, and have more pertinent experience than the last guy did when he got here. And you could sign either of them in a day for Jim Tracy money…

Pitchers and catchers report February 17. Darren Dreifort doesn’t…

Investors Wanted: Invest a thimble full of venture capital today, make major league minimum tomorrow…

So Long, 86: With Don Adams safely entombed behind the Home for Retired Control Agents, we thought we’d pay tribute with an exchange from “Get Smart” that works as well today as it did in the Sixties.

October 27, 1967, to be precise. From “Supersonic Boom,” an episode featuring the “sonic boom machine” and an overacting Farley Granger (like there’s another kind of Farley Granger?):

CHIEF: “All we know is that they threaten to wipe out the city containing our finest intellectual minds and greatest leaders.”

MAX: “Well, at least Washington is safe.”

And for the record, Loose Cannons, 99’s “Susan Hilton” was just a cover name. However, guess the chief’s name and agent identification (other than “Chief”) as revealed during the show, and join the ranks of BaseballSavvy.com’s finest. Click here

Statue for Sandy : The Koufax in bronze campaign continues, so please scroll down to the photo below and vote yes on 32…

With apologies to Danny Kaye, please indulge me: “Down in the dugout Tracy glowers, up in the booth Vin Scully frowns, out in the stands McCourt grins, attendance 50,000.”

Remember, glove conquers all….



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