Dodger Thoughts: Charlie Sheen

Royals 11, Dodgers 5

Highlights:
  • Tim Redding pitched three shutout innings, giving him five for the spring with three strikeouts.
  • James Loney went 2 for 2.
  • Relievers Ramon Troncoso and Carlos Monasterios pitched shutout ball.
  • Jamie Hoffmann (1 for 2) is now, like Loney, 4 for 8 this spring.
  • Juan Castro hit a three-run home run.
Lowlights:
  • Scott Elbert had a nightmare outing, walking four of the five batters he faced. From Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.:
    ... With assistant GM of player development DeJon Watson in the broadcast booth with Charley Steiner, Elbert was missing the strike zone every which way. Elbert came in the game in relief of Jon Link in the fifth inning, then pitched into the sixth. Watson spoke of how Elbert got more consistent in his delivery over the winter, and was able to show two dominant pitches in the Arizona Fall League, but as those words were being spoken Elbert was missing the strike zone quite often. Elbert faced five batters, and walked four of them. He threw 21 pitches, only five of them for strikes.

    On the broadcast, one could hear Watson rooting for Elbert, the Dodgers' 2009 minor league pitcher of the year, even as he was struggling. Watson said Elbert has great stuff that is "electric through the strike zone," and Watson seemed to take Elbert's outing in stride. "He’s having a tough outing today, but I think you’ll see better outings from Mr. Elbert in the future," Watson said. Elbert better hope so; he has faced 10 batters this spring, and walked six of them. He did strike out two, and the other two batters didn't hit the ball out of the infield, but Elbert needs to show some control before he even sniffs the 25-man roster. ...
  • Jon Link was charged with three runs while getting two outs; Luis Vasquez was charged with four runs while getting three outs.
  • Aaron Miles had a double but made his second error of the spring.
  • Xavier Paul struck out twice, dropping to 1 for 8 this exhibition season.
  • Juan Castro hit a three-run home run.
Sidelights:
  • Clayton Kershaw, not yet eligible for arbitration, signed his one-year 2011 contract for the expected figure of $500,000. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details. In fact, every man on the 40-man roster has now been signed for 2011, with Ronald Belisario having his contract renewed and then getting placed on the restricted list.
  • The adventures of Dee Gordon, again courtesy of Mr. Stephen:
    There was a funny moment in the fifth inning, when Mike Moustakas lofted a foul pop near the photography well adjacent to the back of the Dodger dugout. Aaron Miles was in pursuit of the ball, but Dee Gordon, who was not in the game and sitting on the steps of the dugout, tried to evade Miles by moving out of the dugout. Instead, Gordon got the way of Miles, who was unable to make the catch. Watson, who was in the booth with Charley Steiner, could be heard saying something like, "Jesus criminey" or something to that effect.
  • Remarkable: Larry Granillo researched "Peanuts" comic strips for Baseball Prospectus and found Duke Snider was mentioned twice (once with Willie Mays, once with a host of players), compared to three mentions for Mickey Mantle and Mays combined, once for Mantle alone and four times for Mays alone (including the famous spelling bee episode).
  • James Loney fares a bit below average in David Pinto's defensive statistical rankings of first basemen from 2006-10 at Baseball Musings.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven posted photos of the new grass being installed at Dodger Stadium.
  • Charlie Sheen meets Ron Swanson x John Wooden: The Sheen Pyramid of Greatness.
  • Juan Castro hit a three-run home run. From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
    When he left the game after five innings and returned to the clubhouse, this note was posted on the bulletin board:

    "Juan Castro: Please report to [Dodgers trainer] Stan Conte after the game for a mandatory steroid test."
Update: Jackson writes about Castro and Elbert.

Getty ImagesFrank McCourt, Charlie Sheen
I haven't written about the McCourts in a while, not that I sense many of you are complaining. Anyway, here's a link to some news Tuesday, from Molly Knight of ESPN the Magazine:
Lawyers for Jamie McCourt filed a motion Tuesday in superior court seeking greater financial transparency from her estranged ex-husband, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, calling his recent attempt to secure loans to ease his cash-flow problems without their client's knowledge "outrageous." ...

The filing comes on the heels of last week's report by the Los Angeles Times (by Bill Shaikin) that Frank tried, and failed, to secure a $200 million loan from Fox Television against the team's cable TV rights. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig rejected that deal, "a clear sign that Frank's actions were deemed to be not in the best interests of the franchise," Jamie McCourt's court filing stated. ...

Frank McCourt's attorney, Ryan Kirkpatrick, said his client "has fully complied, and will continue to comply, with his obligations to Jamie." He added that the two sides have already scheduled a meeting to talk about the "parties' requests for information from one another, and the mechanics of exchanging that information." ...

It has been nearly 1 1/2 years since the McCourts' marital problems went public, throwing the franchise into its current turmoil. It has come to feel like a fog to me. We drive forward, determined to reach our destination but without clear vision. And the brighter we shine the lights, the more opaque it becomes.

As some of you know, I've spent a good deal of time in my day job over the past few days on the Charlie Sheen beat. It's given me a small taste of what it's been like for the Shaikins, Knights and Josh Fishers of the world, although I have to think some of them would trade a McCourt for a Sheen in an erratic heartbeat. The sensation that was Vladimir Shpunt has been coming out of Sheen's mouth every five minutes or so since Thursday – what they might have given to hear Frank say, "It's been a media tsunami, and I've been riding a mercury surfboard."

People like Sheen and the McCourts become stories, long past anyone's desire or patience to hear more about them, because like them or not, they have high-stakes fates. The fate of one of baseball's most valuable and historic franchises rests on the McCourts ... and yet the value of that franchise pales in comparison to what "Two and a Half Men," the CBS sitcom Sheen stars in, has been worth to the network and producing studio Warner Bros. Before production was suspended on the series, Sheen was making approximately $1.8 million per episode. In calendar 2010, Sheen appeared in 23 episodes, meaning a base salary of more than $41 million before you even begin discussing his ancillary income from syndication and other sources. Manny Ramirez, Andruw Jones, Jason Schmidt – these guys are paupers compared to Sheen.

I would dare say I've written almost as little as my jobs have allowed about Sheen and the McCourts, but ignoring them completely has been impossible. It's hard to deny that there are real stories there. They could use some editing, but they are stories. And that's without even getting into the life-and-death stakes for some in the Hollywood tale.

I'm not going to try to stretch out too many parallels between Charlie Sheen and Frank McCourt, but I can't help thinking there's at least one. Sheen has made it clear that he is living by his own rules. He believes those rules are fair and righteous, and the fact that society, fans of his show, the people he (at least previously) answered to or even blood relatives might not share that view does not matter. Setbacks are hurdles to be bulldozed. "Defeat is not an option," Sheen says over and over again.

One of Sheen's most memorable lines came when he was railing against Alcoholics Anonymous, saying that it is for "people that are not special, people who do not have tiger blood and Adonis DNA." Charlie Sheen believes he has tiger blood. And though he would never say it like this, I suspect that in his own way, Frank McCourt believes he has tiger blood too.

Over the past 15 months, McCourt has seemed unshakable in his belief that what he's doing is right. That what he's doing is best for his children. That anything one might call a mistake or selfishness is, at worst, a means to an end. That the people who question him simply don't understand. That he will be vindicated. That because he's been a winner in the past, he'll be a winner in the future. Even when he's ridden on the edge of the cliff.

I imagine that tiger blood is a trait shared by a number of people who become successful, but there comes a point when it goes beyond empowering and becomes a pollutant. I have no expectations that this tiger is going to change his stripes. I don't believe he's going to give up the Dodgers without clawing or scratching through the last fight. But tiger blood makes people selfish to the extreme, and even allowing for the eccentricities and entitlements of ownership, circumstances have long since stopped any reasonable defense of his fight.

Yes, McCourt has rights. But he also has duties.

For all his romping and stomping, Sheen realizes that there is life after "Two and a Half Men." It's time that the McCourts embark upon life after the Dodgers. It's time they find a new passion. Quit this pretense that you're the best thing for this franchise, quit this pretense that your children deserve to inherit leadership of the team, and let go.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Yasiel Puig
BA HR RBI R
.294 13 60 78
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 23
RBIA. Gonzalez 106
RD. Gordon 86
OPSY. Puig .856
WC. Kershaw 19
ERAC. Kershaw 1.70
SOC. Kershaw 219