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Did Dodgers Trade Dignity for an Insult to Be Named?

Something happened recently that made longtime Dodger followers remember one of Tom Lasorda’s favorite spring training tricks.

When Lasorda was still manager, he would sometimes allow a video crew to hide in the closet of his Vero Beach office on April 1.

Lasorda would then summon a borderline player and tell him he was being sent to the minor leagues.

After the poor guy’s anguish had been captured on candid camera, Lasorda would open the closet door and shout something like, “April Fools’.”

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It made for great TV, and emotionally trashed players.

What brings this up?

The Paul Konerko trade.

The deal with the Cincinnati Reds is old news, but there remains a lingering discomfort in how Konerko was traded.

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Whether you would believe that the Dodgers would be so insensitive as to turn a personnel decision into a made-for-TV movie, the facts are these:

Early in a televised afternoon game at San Francisco’s 3Com Park, Konerko learned of the trade when he suddenly was escorted from the visitors’ dugout to the clubhouse by Manager Glenn Hoffman.

At 3Com, formerly Candlestick Park, the only way from the visitors’ dugout to the clubhouse is a walk down the right-field line.

So everyone saw them. The Fox cameras focused on them. The announcers speculated on them. Suddenly, you weren’t watching baseball but a shakedown on “Cops.”

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Even that would have been fine, had the trade been made that minute.

Yet numerous sources since have confirmed the trade was completed a couple of hours earlier.

In fact, at 2:30 p.m. EDT, back in Cincinnati, Jeff Shaw was on an elevator heading to the office of the Reds’ general manager to learn of the trade.

Which would have made it about 11:30 a.m. in San Francisco, about the time others said they also learned of the deal, 90 minutes before the first pitch.

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Which means Konerko should never even have been allowed to don a Dodger uniform that day, much less gone to the dugout. If nothing else, why would they allow him to risk freak injury and blow the deal?

The Dodger stance is that they and the Reds wanted to announce the deal at the same time, which was after the Reds’ afternoon game, which meant the Dodger game already had started.

Fine. Make the announcement whenever. Just don’t make a human spectacle out of it.

The Dodgers soon could be sending out another youngster for a veteran pitcher. Unless that pitcher can get them to a World Series, let’s hope that youngster is not Adrian Beltre or Wilton Guerrero.

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Whoever it is, let’s also hope they are afforded the dignity that Konerko was not.

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Speaking of Shaw, do not blame Hoffman for leaving him in the bullpen during Thursday’s late collapse against the Houston Astros. . . .

Shaw said he told the bosses before the game that his arm “felt a little squirrelly,” so he was given a night off. . . .

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Even though Shaw pitched well Friday against Arizona, cross your fingers. . . .

Does Hoffman overmanage? Sometimes, particularly when he uses Shaw to replace a hot starting pitcher in the ninth inning, like Chan Ho Park on Friday and Darren Dreifort last week. . . .

Should he be ripped for it? Not so fast. . . .

What would you do in his tenuous and unfamiliar situation? You want to blame someone, blame the guy who put him in this position. . . .

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I would like to see Bob Graziano, with no previous experience, take a job with a high-profile accounting firm during the middle of tax season, see how he does. . . .

Anybody have any openings? . . .

Of course, from the clubhouse to the stands, everyone is wondering where Lasorda ends and Hoffman begins. . . .

Whether you like his style, Ross Porter is still way cool. . . .

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Porter recently phoned local radio guy Steve Mason, who does a drop-dead imitation of Porter working Dodger Talk. . . .

Porter complimented him. . . .

The best thing about the Angels’ three-game series against the New York Yankees at The Ed this week is that it occurs just as they are finalizing a deal for the starting pitcher who will give them a division championship. . . .

Uh, right, Bill Bavasi? . . .

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Most inspirational sight at senior golf at Riviera this weekend is watching Jack Nicklaus hobbling up the fairway, bravely fighting off a hip injury as he once fought off Arnold Palmer. . . .

Most stunning sight is the smoking. . . .

First-time senior fans will be surprised to note that some of these guys smoke while teeing off, while walking up the fairway, digging out of traps, even putting. . . .

On Friday, one old guy stunned spectators by throwing his lit cigar to the side of one green before lining up a 10-footer. . . .

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Amazing that baseball, the crudest sport of all, has a rule against smoking in public while genteel golf has none. . . .

At least the more famous guys on the regular tour are sensitive enough to do it discreetly. . . .

Don’t know about you, but I’m nearly as excited about seeing Chad Morton running as Cade McNown pass. . . .

In a classy move, Dodgers Bobby Bonilla and Eric Young--neither of whom are from the area--showed up at Los Angeles Southwest College on Thursday to support their old agent, Dennis Gilbert, during groundbreaking on his inner-city ball field. . . .

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Not so classy is that of our many former inner-city major leaguers solicited for money by scout Phil Pote, none responded. . . .

This includes former Locke High star Ozzie Smith, whose publicity firm never even answered Pote’s invitation to the groundbreaking. . . .

As if you’re surprised.


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