Perusing the Web to get a feel for the Dodgers' new Wizard of Oz
So the Wizard of Oz has been identified, and it turns out it’s a former President George W. Bush crony and past president of the Texas Rangers.
What does it mean?
I would so love to tell you exactly what to make of Commissioner Bud Selig’s appointment of Tom Schieffer as the Dodgers grand overseer -- or Wizard of Oz, as Frank McCourt’s new front man, Steve Soboroff called him.
Alas, I’ve never met him and claim no personal insight. I have pored over just about every word written about him on the Web since he took the position Monday, and can tell you he mostly earned very strong reviews.
The Times' Bill Shaikin and Scott Gold report that although Schieffer’s official title is actually the almost humorous "monitor" -- making you picture the high school administrator patrolling the halls in search of truant troublemakers -- he will act as the team’s de facto president.
What’s important to keep in mind is Schieffer is not taking up permanent residence in Chavez Ravine. He’s an executive temp. Here to examine the club financing, give direction and add stability. Remember, there has been no true club president since McCourt pushed Dennis Mannion out last October.
The Times’ Bill Plaschke said Schieffer’s charge is not about meddling with the team on the field: "He is not here to restrain Ned Colletti, he is here to handcuff Frank McCourt.’’
If all this seems like the obvious forerunner to the MLB taking over the Dodgers, Schieffer told Shaikin: "I don't think it necessarily means that. We need to get the Dodgers back to where they've always been.’’
Schieffer comes with an impressive resume, a versatile one that has seen him serve three terms as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives; as both president and general partner of the Rangers; Bush’s ambassador to Australia and Japan; and now a member of a top law firm.
If the situation with the Dodgers is complicated, he told Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown: "Oh, I’ve had some pretty difficult jobs before. Dealing with the North Koreans is generally a pretty tough day.’’
One of his former general managers with the Rangers, current Brewers GM Doug Melvin, told ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson that Schieffer was big on chain of command: "With Tom, there are never any back doors or hidden agendas. He is very trustworthy, and nobody is going to get away with trying to sneak up through the fire escape into his office to get around somebody else. He doesn't allow that to happen.’’
Even Tom Grieve, who was fired as a Rangers general manager by Schieffer but then hired back as team TV announcer, gives him a positive review, telling Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick: "To me, for that role, he is the perfect guy. He's bright, he loves the game, he's got an incredible attention to detail, he's got passion and he's a tireless worker. There is nothing about that job that won't appeal to him or he won't do a great job at. Whoever came up with his name, it was a brilliant idea.’’
Naturally, not everyone was blown away. LA Weekly's Gene Maddus was miffed that the MLB turned to a close friend of Bush to take over the Dodgers and uncovered that when he was a Texas representative, Texas Monthly named him one of Austin’s 10 worst legislators in 1975.
Yet this is hardly about politics. It is about getting a grip on the financing and operations of one of the most storied, and currently troubled, franchises in all of American sports.
And now that we know whom Selig has appointed to be behind the curtain, I’m thinking Schieffer had best save those awards for heart, courage and brains for himself.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Tom Schieffer in 2008. Credit: Junko Kimura / Getty Images