Gillick Says No to Dodgers

The Dodger, stung throughout baseball by the unending list of firings and people jumping ship, had their plans for filling he general manager's slot hit a bump when 68-year-old Pat Gillick, said to be first choice, said no even without an interview, even after the team asked for and received permission to talk to him.

Glenn Hoffman, the former interim manager and senior third base coach, did not wait until the situation settled before actively seek the same slot with the arch rival Padres down the road.

They aren't the only two who may have thought the firing and turnover maelstrom might not be finished with the dismissal of GM Paul DePodesta, and it is expected the Dodgers, no longer the storied franchise of stability, have to prove the team from owner to senior advisor on down, can regroup into the team that people wanted to go to and work for.

It may well have been the reason Braves bench coach Terry Pendleton backed out of an interview earlier in this swirling post season.

The Gillick glitch was yet another time-spending effort that shortens the Dodgers efforts to get the ship under post season sail while the rest of the fleet is already out to sea.

The first important Dodgers official to jump ship was the valuable, likeable and universally respected Derrick Hall, senior vp for communications who took his class act early on to Arizona. It took Hall less than 60 days to look over the new ownership and decide rough waters were ahead.

The current Dodgers setup couldn't be further opposite what -- under the O'Malley ownership for over 50 years -- the franchise had established itself as. The Dodgers haven't had stability in the GM's office since Fred Claire. Some good people tried, but it was too much.

It seems that when Peter O'Malley walked off into the sunset -- prodded by the specter of federal inheritance tax laws -- he took the heart and soul of the Dodgers with him.

While the 2005 season was a disaster on the field, it has become increasingly evident that something equally disconcerting is also hovering around the franchise off the field as well.

While Tommy Lasorda has been around the Dodgers for most of 60 years, there also remain legions of now senior citizen fans as long or longer.

Distress and concern are weak words to convey the our feelings about a once storied franchise.

Baseball people suddenly don't want to be around either 78-year-old Tommy Lasorda in LA or 72-year-old Larry Lucchino in Boston.

However, Red Sox senior expert Bill Lajoie, 72, chose to retire. In Florida, 70-year-old Jack McKeon chose to leave the field and semi retire to his Carolina perch.

But Lasorda and Lucchino remain in the saddle, trying to beat father time, senior baseball cardinals emulating the ecclesiastic cardinals in Rome who only get to real power as septuagenarians.

Us lifers wear as a badge the courage it took to be first to break the color line in baseball. We survived the cross country trek after the 1957 season. We were proud that loyalty in the Dodgers organization decade after decade was indeed a truly two way street.

But in the past half dozen years, new owners cut the number of minor league teams, furloughed valuable baseball men, some of whom like veteran Guy Conti, were able to resurface in the big leagues elsewhere. Joey Vavra is now big league hitting coach with the Twins. Others like Leo Posada, Dick McLaughlin, Chico Fernandez and many others are no longer in baseball -- out before their time.

There is no sign the cutbacks and the exodus will be ending any time soon. Even as this is written, Vero Beach manager Scott Little left for a spot with the ownerless Washington Capitals.

It seems just like yesterday that the tsurris and turmoil were absolutely foreign for our beloved team.

When reasons forced the exit of Joe Alvarez some years ago, Peter O'Malley and his trusty aide Ike Ikuhara went out of their way to fly to Miami and work with Alvarez to find a really good spot in oriental baseball.

It is clear that, at least for now, those days are over. The one thing about change is change and more change. As we have learned, not always for the better.

Not having a flush wallet isn't the only answer. The O'Malleys began on a shoestring and had many tight years, even losing financial seasons.

The current ownership is right to claim that character is important. But it must begin at the very top. Loyalty not given is loyalty lost. And that includes one of the longest and most national of all fan bases.