Just for the Record, This McCourt Can Schmooze
The lunch had been scheduled for 12:30 at the Water Grill. I was there, but no sign of Jamie McCourt. But then why should Thursday be any different from the previous 203 days?
There was $300 in e-mail pledges from readers to Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, though, riding on whether she showed up, so I asked to be seated and waited. I ordered a soda and noticed there wasn’t a main course on the menu going for less than $25 -- her way, I guess, of showing me the McCourts have money, or recently took out another loan.
A few minutes later I looked up to see the “5-foot-2, 100-pound golden-blond tornado in size ‘0' designer miniskirt and three-inch heels” as USA Today described her, pointing a finger in my direction and ordering me with a wave of her hand to join her at a different table.
Hey, at least she wasn’t screaming.
THE SCREAMING MEANIE invited me to lunch, and I agreed with the understanding that everything would be on the record. I put a tape recorder in front of her, and she said, “I’d be a lot more fun if we were off the record,” and I said, “No thanks.”
I brought out a list of questions, aiming to touch on no names on the back of the jerseys, her overnight promotion to president, the mirage that is the $100-million payroll, and the kid they hired as general manager.
“We’re not turned on yet,” she said, and I had a feeling she wasn’t ready yet for a full blast of Page 2 wisecracks, so I didn’t go there but made it clear to her the tape recorder was turned on.
I started off with the easy questions, wanting to know about the $25-million and $6.5-million homes in Holmby Hills. “You don’t have any money, so why buy two houses?”
“Is this interview going to be about the Dodgers?” she said. “And your next question is?”
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to interview a Kevin Brown in a miniskirt and three-inch heels.
“OK, so how come it took 203 days for you to get back to me?” I asked.
“Let’s move on,” she said. “We’re moving forward. Take advantage.”
I thought it might be best to bring up Paul DePodesta’s name before she started eating. I’m not sure I’d be very good at the Heimlich maneuver.
I told her there have been published reports that she has soured on Google Boy, and she said, “I don’t know where they get something like that; I have total faith in Paul, as does Frank. I believe we made the right hire.”
I suggested DePodesta was in over his head, learning on the job at the expense of Dodger fans, and she said, “that’s silly.” Beginning the season with Jose Valentin at third, Hee-Seop Choi at first, Jason Phillips catching and expecting a full season out of J.D. Drew -- now that’s silly.
“I wish you’d let me go off the record, it’s be so much fun,” she said, and I said, “No thanks.”
TO HER credit, she showed up without her crisis manager at her side. “Is she waiting in the car for your call?” I wondered.
For the most part, she was in full schmooze mode, bright and sassy, while wanting to know when I was going to stop asking questions, would she have time to eat, and when can she interview me?
I laughed at all the public relations experts they have gone through since coming to town, and she said, “Do you want the job?” I found it odd, though, she didn’t wait for my answer.
At one point, we actually agreed on something. She said if it were up to her, she’d have the names of the players on their jerseys. Baseball rules prohibit returning them before 2007, but I think I know who will win this argument, and we’ll be seeing those names once again.
Now I’ve heard her speak only three or four times since coming to Los Angeles, and I got the “my kids drink milk competitively” story for the third or fourth time. I told her maybe DePodesta should watch the free agents drink milk before he signs them so we can weed out the ones who aren’t competitive. Right now I think most of us would take anything other than his computer.
I asked about her overnight promotion to president, unaware she had done anything but remain married to the team’s owner, and she said the business side of the Dodger operation, which is under her command, is doing just fine.
The Dodgers will turn a profit this season, she said, despite finishing in the red on the field some 17 or 18 games below .500.
“It’s something to be really proud of,” she said. “They were losing 50 million [dollars] a year.”
I’m sure the fans will be thrilled to learn that the McCourts, who have yet to fulfill the promise of having a $100-million payroll, will be turning a profit.
“I think people are starting to believe, yes, we have the money and the money we do have we want to put on the field,” she said, and obviously we don’t talk to the same people.
As for the $100-million payroll promise, “that money is available to DePodesta and has always been available to him,” she said, and once again I said we’ve seen no evidence to indicate that’s true.
“Until we win the World Series that notion will always be there,” she said. “It’s our job to win the World Series. And the money is there, by the way, to assemble the team to win the World Series.”
The lunch over -- and the 5-2, 100-pound tornado sure can eat -- we shook hands and parted with her wanting to know, “Are you going to call me?”
Why sure -- in about 203 days or so.
T.J. Simers can be reached at
email@example.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.