Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Playing "Softball" with Colletti over at KLAC
I just finished listening to Steve Hartman, Nick the Brick and Pat O'Brien on AM 570 as they interviewed Lasorda, Colletti and Steiner where they conducted a “lovefest” with the three over the Dodgers joining the KLAC fold. I must say, the softballs lobbed at Colletti were rather annoying.
By annoying I refer to the congratulations they were tossing to Ned for playing the kids. We all all know full well that Colletti only was forced to call up the kids when all the veteran signings he made didn’t pan out. Thames, Uribe, Navarro were all flops. For much of the year, Lilly and to some extent Billingsley turned out to be bad signings too. Injuries to Furcal, Blake, Garland, Padilla, Broxton and others forced his hand to bring up players like Sands, Gordon, Sellers, De La Rosa, Eovaldi, Guerra, Lindblom, and Elbert.
The thanks shouldn’t go to Colletti. It should be sent to the true brains behind the Dodger front office, Logan White and Vance Lovelace. And plaudits sent to Ned should have been criticisms for not pulling the trigger sooner and going with the kids early on, which possibly would have resulted in a true playoff run instead of a “feel good” conclusion to the season.
I know it’s easy for me to sit back and be critical in the comfort of my own home while I pound away on my laptop. But those guys at KLAC are the guys that have access to these executives. They are the ones that need to keep the front office types honest. It’s their job to be critical and honestly assess Colletti’s performance. What I heard today was a lot of cheerleading and giddiness about the Dodgers latching on to KLAC. That’s fine and dandy, but it can get old real fast.
Los Angeles has always seemed to have a radio sportstalk makeup that loves to toss the softballs at the guests they interview. I understand that the comfort level is important and that guests don’t tend to return if they face the tough questions. But I have seen Colletti undergo some criticism in interviews. He can take it.
Joe McDonnell would have definitely handled that interview differently.
I've been following sports talk radio longer than almost anyone I know. I started out in the early 70’s listening to basketball great Bill Russell as he hosted KABC sportstalk shortly after his retirement. (Surprisingly to many, he was really good at it too). Over the years I listened to such hosts as Bud Furrillo, Bud Tucker, Ed (Superfan) Beiler, Geoff Wicher, Tommy Hawkins, Jim Healy, Rick Talley, Doug Krikorian, Joe McDonnell, Eric Tracy, former players Al Downing, Jim Mudcat Grant, Ross Porter, Chet Forte, Steve Mason, John Ireland, Ira Fistel (yes he did some Dodger talk in the 80’s). I know there are others, but my memory is failing me. I haven’t lived continually in the L.A. Area since 1988, so over the years, I have lost touch with the L.A. Radio Sportstalk scene, thus explaining the many names that many of you see that I have omitted.
When I attended grad school in the Phoenix area, there was this arrogant guy named Lee Hamilton that I listened to and when I moved to San Diego, well, he followed me there to take a show on the Chargers flagship station. Then the original Loose Cannons (Steve Hartman and Chet Forte) were drive time sports radio there at XTRA 690, and later this new comer took the night show by the horns there by the name of Jim Rome.
I actually would call the Jim Rome show late at night before he developed his schtick and was much more substance than glossary items and his current “clone” speak. I recall the first time Tommy Lasorda was interviewed by Rome. And this was a time that Rome was just breaking into the business. Knowing how arrogant Rome is today, I bet if he was asked to recall how Lasorda rudely treated him in that first interview, he’d deny that it happened. He actually asked Tommy some tough questions about some of his managerial strategy and his lineups that tended to play veterans that were obviously on the downside of their careers. His questions were good, hard hitting, and well researched. They were questions that were obviously given a lot of thought.
Tommy didn’t like it. He essentially shut the interview down and turned the questions around to the interviewer, telling Rome that he had no business questioning his managerial decisions. Lasorda suddenly didn’t know Rome’s name and said something to the effect, “What was your name again, kid?” You see, Lasorda was used to the softballs that would be tossed his way and here was this young up and coming journalist that dared ask him controversial questions.
Funny thing is that about a year later, after Rome had gained his fame, he had Lasorda on his show again, this time in the daytime slot and Lasorda treated him as if he was a long lost son. Tommy does that. When Rome had a late night San Diego radio show from 9 PM to Midnight, Lasorda didn’t hesitate to try to embarass him. Once he knew he had reached the big time, Tommy turned on the charm. And as a result, naturally, Rome backed off on the tough questions.
Up here in San Francisco, I must say that the sportstalk radio is not to my liking, but there was a guy here, Larry Krueger, that used to do Giants post game sportstalk. In 2005, Krueger went on a rant following a Giant loss that criticized Giant Manager Felipe Alou for playing what he called “brain dead Caribbean hitters that hacked at slop nightly.” That comment got him fired. The thing was, his comment was relatively true with players such as Moises Alou, Benito Santiago, Pedro Feliz, Deivi Cruz, Edgardo Alfonzo and Omar Vizquel all having a terrible year and being known for their impatience as hitters. It was the reference to their ethnicity that got him in hot water and almost ruined his career. I noticed this year, he has returned to the station and started getting limited work again, but we are talking a six-year hiatus for the poor guy.
So anyway, this posting is all over the place and I know I have gotten off the original topic, which was my disappointment in the Hartman, JT the Brick interview with Colletti. As a blogger, I seldom get the opportunity to conduct interviews with the decision makers in power and perhaps, someday, I will. If I do, I'll try to not lob softballs. Then again, maybe that's the only way to keep getting the interviews. So far I have reached out to a few linked to Dodger lore that I thought would be interesting and I knew I had a good chance in geting them to agree to be interviewed, (Billy Delurey, Sweet Lou Johnson, and Tom Seidler come to mind). So it may not be fair for me to be critical of the KLAC team from earlier this week, because i haven't been in their place, but they are in the business, so I think it's fair to say that we should expect them to be able to throw a question high and tight now and then.