FANS DESERVE BETTER THAN SPINMIESTERS--Much has been written, much of it in frustration, about the Dodgers’ recent and historic meltdown. It’s gotten to the point where some people are prepared to believe it’s a curse. It’s hard to fathom that a team which was so good this year has suddenly, inexplicably, changed course and is now “the worst team in baseball,” as Dodger third baseman Justin Turner recently said in a moment of frustration -- and refreshing honesty.
Despite the fact that we are still in first place (as of this writing), it’s tough to be a Dodger fan right now. Oh, sure, the losses, dashed expectations and sagging hopes invariably find their way to our stomachs with a sinking and very real feeling. The impending sense of doom causes sleepless nights for those of us who bleed Dodger blue.
But perhaps what hurts the most is the lack of honesty with which the fans are being treated by, it seems, the entire organization, JT’s comments and Clayton Kershaw’s show of authentic emotion and frustration notwithstanding.
As lifelong Dodger fans, we are hoping and praying that the team can rekindle the magic from earlier in the season, but the Dodgers freefall is already historic and on the verge of Shakespearean tragic proportions. And yet rather than embrace the truth and include the Dodger faithful in the current reality of the situation, with the exceptions mentioned above, we are hearing false reassurances, excuses and sometimes sheer nonsense from the organization’s representatives. It feels we are being sold a bill of goods.
We understand the ups and downs as well as incremental nature of a long season of baseball, but let's face it: right now it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The only thing worse than the pit in our collective stomachs at actually caring -- because that’s who we Dodger faithful are and we really don’t have any choice in the matter -- is having to swallow the sugarcoating we are being spoon fed by seemingly the entire Dodger organization.
Manager Dave Roberts seems to shrug things off, dissing the Dodger fans for booing, rather than hearing the boos as a wake-up call (and failing to understand that perhaps the fans weren’t booing Baez, but Roberts himself for his decision to put Baez in). The Dodger announcers have been putting all kinds of spin on the tailspin with clichés like “every team goes through it” or worse. When Cody Bellinger came to the plate the other day, the best one of the announcers could do was say (paraphrasing): “How great would it be if Cody tied the game with one swing on his bobblehead night?” Would it have been great? Sure. Was it ever going to happen? Hardly. Why dangle that in front of us to create false hopes until something great actually happens? It’s almost insulting.
It's time finally for some transparency. It's time finally for some respect. Lack of transparency is one reason people don’t trust the government or feel their voice matters. Please don’t let the Dodgers be like the government.
If you’re never going to bunt because your players can’t bunt and because your front office won’t allow you to bunt because of sabermetrics, then please just say it. Dave Roberts seems so afraid to say anything which might conceivably hurt a player’s feelings, as if they are all so thin-skinned. Just tell it like it is, Dave. Be a real human and be prepared to admit mistakes.
Right now, it’s almost as if Roberts doesn’t really care. For him and the players, it creates the impression that they’re treating it as just a job. And they’ll get paid no matter what. For so many of the fans, the Dodgers and baseball are more than just a pastime. Please show us you care a little. Please be more than a polished robot. Please allow us to feel connected to the team.
The way the organization is dealing with the freefall is not only insulting to those who bleed Dodger blue, it also underlines why we miss Vin Scully so much. His loyalty to the organization was never in question, yet he never talked down to the fans. Vin Scully’s objectivity was legendary and his refusal to engage in happy talk was ultimately proof of his respect for the game, the players and all those who care about baseball.
Vin Scully often said that the roar of the fans had enchanted him from childhood; he respected the fans, and we trusted him. Vin Scully treated us like a friend. His honesty, his gentle humanism and authenticity were the only comfort we needed.
Dodger fans love the Dodgers and we love baseball. It’s a passion we share with our kids. It’s ourselves as kids who live on within us. They – and we – need real role models, not patronizing spinmeisters. We support the team, not just by going to the games, but by giving them our hearts. Yes, our hearts. We don’t require or demand perfection. Nobody’s perfect. We all go through epic slumps in our own lives. But it hurts. Boy, does it hurt. And the best way to deal with it is through transparency, realness, the truth.
C’mon, Dodgers: maybe, just maybe, the truth will set you free.
(John Mirisch has served on the Beverly Hills City Council since 2009 and twice served as mayor. He created the Sunshine Task Force to increase transparency in local government. John is a CityWatch contributor. Like his brother, Richard Mirisch is a lifelong Dodger fan and producer of such movies as Black Mass, Non-Stop and the upcoming Alpha.)