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Cover boys Kemp and Ethier: An L.A. marketing story

March 13, 2010 |  7:11 am
So there is a new face(s) to the Dodgers this season?

Come on, what did you expect? This is called smart business. Dennis Mannion, the team president, is a marketing guy. He understands the lay of the land.

Manny Ramirez has already honestly stated -- you know, back in the days when he was still talking -- he doesn’t expect to be back next season.

Now why would the Dodgers center their marketing campaign around a player everyone figures will be gone after one more season?

That the Dodgers' new media guide features Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier on the cover and not Manny, as Dylan Hernandez reported here in The Times, is simply displaying a keen marketing sense.

Now Mannion may be a laugh riot when it comes to quotes -- "I am against using individual players as a platform to market your team," he said -- but he knows which wheel to grease.

Kemp and Ethier are on the way up. Manny’s star is fading and he’s practically a lame duck. Now, if you were the Dodgers, just whom would you promote?

Mannion needs to be a little more up front with fans, though, and give them some credit. No need to massage the message. And really, he told Hernandez that promoting one or two individuals could lead to jealousy-fueled rifts in the clubhouse that would compromise the team's ability to win?

Told you he was one funny guy. Mannion visits the clubhouse about as often as he does the moon. Hypocrisy aside -- by the way, that Mannywood section will return this season -- Los Angeles has always been a market that relishes superstars.

The best Dodgers teams had identifiable faces, stars such as Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Garvey, Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser. In L.A., stars sell tickets. Without Kobe, the Lakers are the Clippers. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Now, there is a great difference between a club promoting you as the face of the team and being the man in the clubhouse.

Manny is still the lead dog. He still sets the tone, still has the respect, is still the one with a World Series ring.

But it’s also undeniable that Ethier and Kemp now walk through the clubhouse with a slightly different air about them. They carry themselves like players who have arrived, not the youngsters of great promise.

This Silver Slugger excuse for putting them on the media guide cover is highly convenient. Kemp and Ethier are the future. A torch is being passed and it’s only smart to market it that way.

-- Steve Dilbeck