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Sports Medley: Who gets the blame for the Dodgers? 2 Nov 15

by Tony Medley

It’s Andrew Friedman’s Fault: Upon assuming control as President of the Dodgers, Andrew Friedman had the opportunity to immediately dismiss manager Don Mattingly and hire Joe Maddon, who went later to the Cubs. He had evidence when he was hired in 2014 that Mattingly was not up to the job in at least two specific incidents:

  1. Mattingly’s refusal to play Justin Turner, who had baseball’s highest batting average in 2014, in the playoffs, limiting him to three pinch-hitting appearances.
  2. Mattingly’s failure to have pinch runner Yasiel Puig running on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth inning of the last playoff game with one out and the Dodgers trailing by a run. Puig stayed on first as Turner struck out. Had he been running and successfully stolen second (see this year’s Kansas City Royals), he would have scored and tied up the game when Dee Gordon followed with a clutch, two-out single. Instead Gordon’s single only advanced Puig to second where he died and the Dodgers lost, ending their season. It’s seemingly small decisions like this that decide championships. For the want of a nail the kingdom was lost.

These are just two of many examples of Mattingly’s ineptitude which justified an immediate replacement in 2014. Then, almost immediately after taking over, Friedman made the colossal error of trading the Dodgers’ best player, Gordon, who went on to become the 2015 National League batting champion playing for the Miami Marlins, and led the major leagues in hits.

It’s true that two of the players Friedman received in the trade, Kike Hernández (.307 as a part-timer in 2015) and pitcher Chris Hatcher, are arguably good players, so it’s not as bad a trade as trading eventual multiple Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields. But what makes this a quintessentially bad deal is the fact that Friedman made this trade and actually not only agreed to pay $2,500,000 of Gordon’s salary but paid more in cash to “induce” Miami to make the deal. This trade constitutes incompetence to the nth degree.

My understanding is that he traded Gordon, who led the major leagues in steals in 2014, because sabermetricians like Friedman don’t like stolen bases. That’s the kind of thinking that’s in the Dodgers’ future.

But, let’s face it, the Dodgers haven’t had anybody who knew anything about baseball running the show since Peter O’Malley cravenly fired Al Campanis, who built the Dodgers’ last championship team in 1988. Since then the Dodgers’ Front Office has been a vast wasteland, although Ned Colletti did a good job of bringing the Dodgers back to prominence.

The geniuses who now own and run the Dodgers (who, based on available evidence after one year of operations, epitomize the axiom “more money than brains”) relegated Colletti, the only person in the Front Office with even a smattering of knowledge about baseball, to the role of TV talking head.

Bad Interviewers are not confined to Baywater Babes: As the author of the first book ever written on the job interview, I know something about interviews, having conducted more than 1,000 of them. It’s hard to understand how Fox’s Ken Rosenthal could be the lead on-field interviewer for the nationally televised World Series. Here are the inexpert questions he asked Kansas City infielder Mike Moustakas after the Royals beat the Mets 5-3 in the fourth game of the World Series:

“You saw that line drive coming to ya. What’s going through your mind?”

And, “At what point during that inning did you sense, ‘OK, here we go again’?”

And, “Mike, you guys are one win away. You’ve been building towards this moment since Spring Training, really since game 7 last year. How excited are you to play tomorrow night behind Edinson Volquez?”

Moustakas had driven in a key run in the top of the 8th, and had misplayed a ball in the bottom of the ninth that allowed Mets Daniel Murphy to get on base bringing the tying run to the plate, so there were substantive questions begging to be asked. Alas, apparently Rosenthal thought it was more important to ask him if he would be excited to play tomorrow than to ask him about his key hit and about what happened with the ground ball he had just misplayed. What kind of question is, “what were you thinking when the line drive was hit at you?” That question alone is enough to disqualify him from any more sports interviews for the rest of time.

A better question would be to Rosenthal, “What were you thinking when you asked these numbingly specious questions?” And to Fox Sports executives, “Why do you keep this guy on the air?”

Contrast these uninformed inanities that show little or no understanding of the game he just saw, with what his second banana, Erin Andrews, asked Royals’ catcher Sal Perez immediately thereafter: “Sal, before Wade Davis faced (Mets 1st Baseman Lucas) Duda (who came to bat with two men on and one out in the bottom of the 9th; a home run would win the game), what did you say to him?”

Then, because Perez had been knocked down and treated after being hit by a foul tip in the 9th inning, “You asked Wade Davis if he was OK. You were OK with the bat. But let me find out how you are feeling physically after you were nailed here in the chest.”

It’s stunning that a person like Rosenthal, who asks only banalities that bring no enlightenment about the game just played, could be the number one field reporter in front of a pro like Erin Andrews. Rosenthal’s interviews are more like a Saturday Night Live skit than an actual professional interview by someone who knows something about baseball like, for instance, Erin Andrews.

Uniforms: When I was growing up, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a joke (as were the pre-Lombardi Green Bay Packers). But what brings this to mind is that the Steelers wear throwback uniforms twice a year and Sunday was one of them. Without question or debate, the Steelers’ uniforms from yesteryear are the most gawdawful in the history of professional sports.

Jim Mora’s UCLA Bruins are as consistent as the Northern Star: Although UCLA eeked out another unmerited victory while allowing mediocre Colorado over 500 yards in total offense Saturday, Mora’s team continued its assault on playing disciplined football, racking up 10 penalties for 101 yards, keeping the Bruins on pace for UCLA’s fourth straight year as one of the most penalized teams in the nation.