T.J. Simers’ interview with the Dodgers owners went about as well as expected

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Yesterday I slammed T.J. Simers for apparently prejudging the Dodgers owners in advance of his conference call with them yesterday morning. He seemed to be doing his Simers thing: looking to pick a fight and put his subject on the defensive, then turn around and say “god, what a bunch of clowns” rather than actually try to learn anything from his subject. Which is what he always does, of course.

And based on the column describing the call, that’s exactly what he did.  Focusing on petty things like the fact that Magic Johnson sat next to Frank McCourt at a game last month, which Simers has been harping on ever since. I guess Johnson could have punched out McCourt — woulda made Simers happy — but it may have presented some problems getting the deal closed.

But beyond a couple of those sorts of things, to the extent this went poorly for the Dodgers owners, it wasn’t all on Simers. It sounded like Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten didn’t exactly do their best to come off well:

I asked Magic about the owners’ introductory news conference. It appeared he had misled folks or was not aware of the parking-lot lease that will benefit McCourt.

Magic told the media McCourt wasn’t going to get a dime.

“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Magic said.

“I was expecting an apology,” I said.

“About what?”

“About misleading people in thinking Frank won’t get a dime.” I read to him what he had said at the news conference.

“I already told the truth; we’ll move on to the next question,” he said.

As I noted last week, it does appear that Johnson was either misleading or was simply uninformed when he said what he said. And being snippy about it later, even if taunted into being so by Simers, is not the best stance to take. There were several other testy exchanges in which the owners didn’t come off particularly well.

T.J. Simers is likely not an easy person to deal with, but most players don’t take his bait and get into it with him like this. They usually smile and deflect him, probably having been given a briefing about his schtick during spring training.  One would think that the team’s owners would have someone brief them on him too.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.