Orel Hershiser and Eric Karros, you’ve got first crack at a live, in-game assessment of the Dodgers’ 2011 prospects as the cloud of ownership hangs over Don Mattingly’s first season as the manager.
Hershiser, the Dodgers’ 1988 Cy Young Award winner from their last World Series title team who is part of ESPN’s coverage in Thursday’s opener against San Francisco and will be back on Sunday (ESPN2, 5 p.m., with Dan Shulan and Bobby Valentine), said the disappointing part of franchise ownership “will be questions of whether there is enough capital to spend later in the season to put the team over the top if they’re in a position to win.”
And without a hot start, “those distractions and disappointments will be something they have to answer every time they enter the locker room. I think the players need to put blinders on and not worry about that situation.”
Hershiser said the only comparable front-office thing he experienced as a Dodger was during the April, 1987 Al Campanis-”Nightline” interview that led to the general manager’s firing.
“That’s the only time I saw (Dodgers owner) Peter O’Malley set foot in the locker room,” said Hershiser. “Whatever we had to deal with as far as the front office, it was always in a low-key, classy manner. Peter was never in the limelight, and handled everything with much class and finesse. So now to have someone at the forefront out there, in all that negative light, it’s disheartening to say the least.”
Adds Karros, the L.A. Dodgers’ franchise leader in home runs who’ll be in the Fox broadcasting booth with Kenny Albert doing the Dodgers-Giants game on Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11) as well as returning as the KCAL Channel 9 pregame studio analyst during the regular season:
“When Mr. O’Malley sold the club and we went through a different environment there back in ’97 and ’98, the players only dealt with all that when they were asked about it, and it wears on you.
“As a former Dodger, or even a fan of baseball, sure, I’d like the focus to be on what’s happening on the field. It is what it is. You think of all the historic franchises and you’d just like to see things go well, but they’re not picture perfect. There was a time in the 1970s when the Yankees organization wasn’t run well.”
As for Mattingly stepping in, Karros says “when he first faces adversity, that’ll be the true test, whether it’s the team struggling or off-the-field issues. I don’t think he’s been presented with that yet.
“He’ll be given some resources, but if you’re looking at someone who could be a rookie manager with either the Pirates or the Dodgers, you take the Dodgers’ job 10 out of 10 times.”