A Price Increase by Any Other Name …

The Dodgers owners have come a long way. They are now LA glitterati, owners of posh real estate in Beverly Hills, on the society pages as often as the sports pages, and even featured in a photo op with Al and Tipper Gore. Could Dodgers ticket prices be far behind? No they could not

. Rule number one: politicians never saw or heard of a price increase, i.e., tax increase, they didn't like. Rule number two: folks who hang out with politicians are almost always of like mind. Rule number three: folks who hire or borrow politicians -- gunslingers -- like the Dodgers did, are up to no good. Rule number four: people who play by politicians rules have one target -- your wallet.

So, following rules 1-4 above, the Dodgers, daily setting more and more distance from the O'Malley family, happily pulled the trigger and raised ticket prices.

Call it eat all you want, it still is a price increase designed to send you home having spent more than you wanted or intended to. Al Gore calls it global warming. The Dodgers owners call it reallocation of resources (from us to them).

One can only guess at the pre and post picture taking chitchat. Surely they said a collective prayer to the patron saint of legal theft -- Phineas T. Barnum.

Now P.T. Barnum put old freaks on stage for the boobs to go ga-ga over and in the current Dodgers owners old P.T. found anxious and willing disciples.

Did Barnum ever have a circus or side show barker of the ilk of Senior Vice President Thomas Lasorda?

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for only a small donation (i.e., all the money in your pocket) you can eat all you want (says the barker who never but never ever paid for anything he ate in his life). Step right in, see the money you spent on a center fielder with only one arm. Come on in, see not only one but two or three players who will perform day to day on only one good leg.

Baseball America, the journal, named Peter O'Malley as one of the 25 most important people in the sport during the papers 25 years of existence. He might or should have been given the honor for his basic decency, a category, if they had one, he would be almost alone in.

After being treated decently by the owners O'Malley for almost 50 years, to be the recipient of the sleight of hand and indecent tricks of the subsequent owners is not only a total turnaround but a shock to the immune system.

The family O'Malley learned all they ever needed to know about politics in Brooklyn. Master builder Robert Moses would not help the Dodgers remain in Brooklyn or the greater New York metropolitan area.

The O'Malleys got excoriated and Moses slithered back into the shadows where politicians feel most welcome (along with various other of Darwin's species). When a good and decent owner (Peter O'Malley) wanted to do for LA NFL football what they did for baseball, the LA politicians not so politely said get lost. Not even a photo op.

Now the O'Malley family could have hung on another decade by doing the things the owners have late have done: (1) close the gold mine in the Caribbean, (2) dump the scouts, (3) save pennies in the farm system, (4) raise prices, raise prices, raise prices, (5) fool the customers with well known names but less than 50 per cent of the talent they used to have, (6) get rid of the guys with class or scruples (Ross Porter for one), (7) promise what you know you can't deliver, (8) go along with what the courts, the commissioners and the commissioned agents have done to the game. They chose not to do so.

The O'Malley integrity was intact.

Not so the Dodgers record (they have not won a championship in the non-O'Malley years). And certainly not so the fan's wallets. This is change. It is not progress.

Various ex-Dodgers players are finding employment elsewhere: Mike Edwards, Karim Garcia, Mike Kinkade. Which only shows you that there is a limited supply of players who can pass either for big leaguers or what is today passed as a big leaguer. Other ex Dodgers are still looking for employment; Todd Hollandsworth and most notable of all Jeff Weaver, the king of sulk, who spent his Dodgers years teaching Brad Penny how to look great and pitch so so.

The Hall of Fame voting is over for the year. No Dodgers elected. And honestly, deservedly so. A few had a single Hall of Fame year, like Orel Hershiser, but a single year of greatness does not a Hall of Famer make, as Adrian Beltré will learn sometime down the line.

Is there a connection between the fact the Dodgers have not won a world championship since 1988 and have not had any Hall of Fame players elected lately. Of course there is. Are you paying more for a day at Dodgers Stadium in 2007 than you did in 1988, even factored for inflation? Yes you are. For what, may we ask?

What makes the Dodgers even passable lately is the continued saga of Bobby Bonds. His alibi for the failed drug test during last season (only now coming out) is this: one of my teammates had it in his locker and it's his fault I was tempted and took it. First, the vastly overpaid player admitted he stole it out of somebody else's locker and then blames the victim of theft for the thievery. Can you believe it?

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