Rupe: Trade Dodger Dogs for Big Mac
Mr. Rupert Murdoch
News Corp. 10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Dear Mr. Murdoch,
It’s been a year since we learned that you’d struck a deal for our beloved Dodgers and a year since I first wrote, offering my services. My aim was to help you rebuild Los Angeles’ favorite sport franchise into a world champion--and, not incidentally, smite your fiendish archrival Ted Turner while putting Michael Eisner in his place.
But you never called, you never wrote. Here we are a year later and the Dodgers are mired in mediocrity, a rudderless, Piazza-less team that seems determined to find out just what it takes to make us true blue fans see red. Meanwhile, Turner’s Atlanta Braves just keep cruising to another National League title and Eisner’s Anaheim Angels are in first place, making a nice run for the hearts of Southern California.
And I can’t help but wonder. . .
How can you stand it, mate?!?
How can you stomach a guy who pledges a billion bucks to U.N. charities to prove his own virtue while lambasting you as evil incarnate? Mr. Jane Fonda has even likened you to Hitler!
True, Marge Schott thought he meant it as a compliment, but Turner tried hard to keep you out of baseball. You won that battle, but now his Braves are embarrassing your Dodgers.
And then there’s Eisner, king of Disney, ABC, etc. His empire includes the media Mecca of American males that is ESPN, which clobbers your Fox Sports channel. Eisner’s getting a bit uppity, don’t you think? To put it in terms Eisner would understand, he might start thinking he’s Mickey Mouse to your Donald Duck.
If I seem impertinent here, remember that it’s impertinence with a point. I don’t think you’re Hitler, and I’m not disgusted by the photos of topless women that spice up your British tabloids. And I have nothing against immigrants, even billionaire immigrants. Heck, some of my best friends are Australian. Well, actually, none of my best friends are Australian. But if they were, they’d still be my best friends, even if they were billionaires.
So you see, Rupert--you don’t mind if I call you Rupert, do you?--consider me a friend. Call me Scott.
And by all means, please do call. You needed me.
Like every Dodger fan--and everybody who ever managed a fantasy baseball team--I just know in my heart I could have done a better job as general manager than Fred Claire.
Let me just give you a little idea how it all would have been different. Imagine the voice of your P.A. announcer, pausing to accommodate the stadium echo:
“Now batting . . . for the Dodgers . . . first baseman . . . Mark McGwire.”
Oh, the fans would be going nuts, watching McGwire chase Maris’ record with those tape-measure blasts. The stands would be filled, the TV ratings up, the Dodgers the talk of baseball.
Turner and Eisner would be so jealous. Yes, the Dodgers could have had Big Mac. I had it all worked out.
Remember last year: Oakland had McGwire on the trading block and St. Louis got him for some young pitchers. Word was the Angels could have made a trade but bided their time. Maybe they hoped to sign McGwire at season’s end as a free agent because he lives in Newport Beach and wanted to be closer to his son in Orange County.
Just ask my basketball carpool buddies: For weeks I said you should deal for McGwire to replace Eric Karros at first and then put Karros on the block. Karros is a nice player, but McGwire is Ruthian. Last time I checked, Big Mac had 40 homers, Karros nine. But alas, St. Louis got him and sweet-talked him into a multiyear deal at $8,333,333 per--an absolute bargain.
How much of a bargain? Consider that Piazza was already making $8 million a year when he reportedly turned down a six-year, $75-million contract, an average of $12.5 million per. Piazza was seeking baseball’s first $100-million deal--seven years, an average of $14.3 million per--and wound up traded in a six-player deal. The Dodgers dealt contracts annualized at $11.2 million in that deal for contracts worth about $20 million, including $10 million for Gary Sheffield.
Now Sheffield’s a terrific player, but the McGwire-Piazza combo sure seems scarier than Sheffield-Karros. (An Aussie like yourself may not know this, but when Maris broke Ruth’s record, he batted ahead of Mickey Mantle--and that’s why Maris was never intentionally walked. You know what an intentional walk is, right?)
And you know what, Rupert? McGwire has a good-guy reputation and would have changed the team chemistry for the better. Or at least the payroll chemistry. McGwire understands that money isn’t everything and so he might have been a good example for Piazza. Oh, Piazza would still want bigger money than Big Mac, but maybe he wouldn’t be too greedy. And if Piazza were unreasonable, you could have traded him and still have McGwire. Maybe Sheffield would be hitting behind him now.
Are you following me here or is this baseball talk out of your league? Let’s switch the subject to something you understand: Global domination.
That’s always been the plan, right? Baseball is going global and you’re the guy with the satellite linkups to do it. You know how the Braves, as winners, helped make Turner’s superstation a success. The Dodgers could do the same for you, only on a planet-wide scale.
Think what a hero you’d be back home. Remember when Ted Turner captained the “Courageous” to victory in the America’s Cup? He beat you Aussies. You could win a World Series for Los Angeles, your adopted home, and your homeland as well. Just think how sweet it would be to beat Turner at America’s game. And think how awful it would be if Dodger fans defected to Eisner’s team.
All is not lost. I have some other ideas to save this season. And I’m willing to work for less than Piazza. Less than McGwire, even. Maybe even less than Roger the Peanut Man.
Awaiting your call,
Scott Harris’ column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Readers may write to him at The Times’ Valley Edition, 20000 Prairie St. , Chatsworth 91311, or via e-mail at email@example.com Please include a phone number.