Off Base
The Ball's in McCourt's Court

June 21, 2010, 6:33 p.m. On a day when the kings-of-L.A. Lakers are on parade, and a day after one of his favorite baseball teams is swept aside by the other, Frank McCourt has options.

Damn good ones too. Simple solutions. Or solution, singular.

No, there's nothing the owner can do to fix the presently weak Dodger offense, nor a tool available to erase the memory of that awful weekend in Boston.

Not a whole hellava lot he can do to prepare us for what could be a very long six days with the Angels of Anaheim and Yankees of the Bronx. But he can lead. Frank McCourt sure can lead.

Look, of course the divorce complicates matters. It's silly to suggest otherwise. Pending major litigation limits a business's – any business's – ability to do whatever the bleep it wants. It limits, but it doesn't paralyze. Not by a long-shot.

(Warning: Yes, this is another one of those columns. Those columns, in which we plead the case for an actual ace. So turn away now if can't handle the truth.)

Perhaps the club can't afford the salary needed to acquire Roy Oswalt. We're talking tens of millions of dollars moving from California to Texas pretty much no matter how it shakes out. So perhaps it's too much of a hurdle for the blue to clear.

Notice the word perhaps there please. I'm not giving up, and I still believe there are ways, that there are always ways, that's what's required is initiative – balls, if you will – and that some upstanding general manager will pull Oswalt out of a Stetson for considerably less than expected, but I'm also realistic.

Fine, so Oswalt goes to the back burner. For now.

But here's the deal. Forget everything you've heard or read elsewhere, and disregard every person, place or thing who's said Cliff Lee can't be a Dodger.

Los Angeles does have the talent to sway Seattle. They do, they absolutely do. The Dodgers have the talent, and the Mariners want that talent. They do, they both do. They do, they do, they do. Do do.

Yes, Seattle can insist on – and the term is way, way, way overused already – "major league ready" players.

So? BFD. All that means is that someone like Blake DeWitt goes, or you make a three-team deal. It's not rocket science.

And even if Seattle does insist on major league ready players, it's just posturing. What they really want is the best possible players, not necessarily the ones who'll make a difference faster. In fact, a good argument can be made, and I'll make it myself if pressed, that the Mariners actually prefer their newbies come along later rather than sooner.

More on that next time. Lee for Chattanooga Lookouts and Inland Empire 66ers is a deal waiting to happen.

Mr. McCourt just has to give the go-ahead. Of course, a green light is one thing, leadership quite another. What he ought to do is be proactive. Like say, go to Ned Colletti, go directly to Ned Colletti, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, no matter how tempting it may be to reach for it.

Go to Ned Colletti and say the following: "You there, employee. Here's what I want. Baseball player, left-hander, real live ace, coolest man on Earth. Guy by the name of Lee, first name not Zach. You know him? Good. I want him in my office, in uniform, July 14, the last day of the All-Star break, latest. No excuses. Don't be an idiot, but get it done. Got that, employee? Good. You can go now."

Frank leads with a directive like that, the Dodgers get their man, and all the controversy of the previous summers vanishes. All the missteps, the embarrassments, the lame trades and lack thereof, all the bad vibrations go away; far, far away. Poof, as if by Russian sorcery.

McCourt goes from goat to hero in a matter of minutes, the Dodgers surpass the Lakers in city loyalty in a matter of months (October, primarily), and all is right with the world.

Even if things don't work out in divorce court, Fall Classic success leads to greater riches to split with the Missus. What more can you possibly ask for?

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Dodger Doings: Despite the sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, there were some encouraging signs. Not enough for my taste, but encouraging nonetheless.

First and foremost, Vicente Padilla looked fine, if you ask me. And fine, if you don't. I'm not overly concerned about the second homer because it was just one dumb pitch. Not a bad pitch; a dumb one. But he looked like a major league starting pitcher, which is saying something, and a man prepared to give his club a respectable 100-plus innings of decent-to-good ball the rest of the way.

Garret Anderson has turned his season around. Props to Joe Torre for his patience. It doesn’t matter that GA's average is an ugly .196 at this point in time. It doesn't even matter if it's a not-all-that-attractive .225 at season's end. What matters is the production from here on out. A .275, with some clutch hits and a bevy of RBIs will suit the club just fine.

The entire blogging community was wrong on this one. Not me, but the rest of the guys, all wrong. Torre had it right.

Manny Ramirez is hitting again, and James Loney never stopped. Hiroki Kuroda was great last night.

And the Dodgers signed Kiko Calero, he of the middle name "Nomar," and assigned him to Albuquerque. I think he's going to surprise you.

I guess that's it for the positives. Next…

Media Savvy: A rough night of Sunday Night Baseball watching, no? John Miller is a fine play-by-play man generally, but sometimes he's kind of a boob. Last night, with his show-offy mispronunciation of Adrian Beltre's name as Bell-TRAY, with emphasis on the TRAY for no apparent reason, boob.

Miller's the only broadcaster who's taken to the Bell-TRAY thing, and it's nothing to be proud of, unless he wants to be compared to Eric Tracy from time and memoriam.

Remember Tracy, with the Jose Oh-Fur-Man, major and incorrect emphasis on the OH? Well, this is like that…

Still No News on the Job Front: Waiting on baited breath for the powers that be to power already. Maybe tomorrow. Stay tuned…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….

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