The Dodgers are a team left without a true star
Los Angeles is the city of eternal sunshine, bright lights and stars.
Lots and lot of stars. We have more stars in L.A. than the Milky Way. Our stars have stars.
Unless you're the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then you are a team without a star. In this town, that’s bad business.
They have mini-stars and stars (they hope) in the making, but right now they have no name to put on the marquee. Certainly nothing that approaches a superstar.
Say what you will about Manny Ramirez, but that piece of work was a star. He may not have performed like one since the world learned he had gotten in touch with his feminine side, but he was without question a star.
He had charisma. He had drawing power. Had his own legion of fans. The Dodgers paid dearly to retain him, but if you factor in the Mannywood section and the Manny wig-caps and the season tickets he helped sell, it was probably money well spent.
Only Manny's gone now, and there is no one ready to assume his mantle.
Clayton Kershaw is a star on the rise. But he's starting pitcher who plays every five days. Which, now that I think about it, isn't a whole lot less than Manny last season.
Teams need an everyday player to rally around, to lead them, to bring daily media and fan attention.
Andre Ethier certainly looked like he had the makings of a guy who would be the face of a team the first six weeks of last season, when he was only the best hitter in baseball. Then came that fractured pinky, a rushed return and major leveling-off.
Matt Kemp? He has divided fans with his remarkable talent and seemingly casual approach to the game. Rafael Furcal? Check back when he actually is healthy and up to par an entire season. Russell Martin? He was badly fading and then suffered serious injury. The left fielder? Wait, the Dodgers will get back to you on that one.
"We don't have one superstar that draws," said General Manager Ned Colletti. "I think most people come out to watch the team rather than one player.
"There's probably some players in the game who have a unique draw to them, where people actually come out to see them play. I'm not sure that’s us. I think it's more well-rounded around this team."
A team so well-rounded, it almost reached .500 last season.
Stars, of course, cost serious dinero. That thing Frank and Jamie McCourt like to take out of the team and spend on mansions and private jets and hairstylists.
Peter O’Malley -- why do I think Frank McCourt is starting to cringe at the mention of that name? -- understood the impact a star player could have. And when the Dodgers weren't producing one, he'd go out and get a Kirk Gibson or a Darryl Strawberry.
These Dodgers? The wattage is so low, some are calling them the Los Angeles Pirates. Which somehow seems to insult Pittsburgh.
The Dodgers may have had a record number of no-shows last season. The number frustrated by the McCourt regime seems to swell by the day. There's no reason to believe they will come storming back next season.
Right now, it certainly wouldn't be because of the team's star power.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Manny Ramirez. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times