In a sense, he was right. It took Fox two months to trade catcher Mike Piazza, the team's best player. It took another two weeks to unload pitcher Hideo Nomo, a fan favorite. And on Monday, three months after Fox purchased the team from the O'Malley family, Claire and Russell were handed their pink slips. They were replaced on an interim basis by team vice president Tommy Lasorda and Triple A Albuquerque manager Glenn Hoffman, respectively.
"[Claire and Russell] always gave 100 percent to their jobs," said Bob Graziano, the Fox-appointed team president. "[But] the fact of the matter is that we haven't been getting our job done."
If there was any question whether the Dodgers would continue to operate under Fox as they did under the O'Malleys, the answer is now abundantly clear. The truth is, the days when an owner could run a club the way Peter O'Malley did—with a sense of noblesse oblige, standing by the Dodger Way while his team failed to win a pennant for nine years—have been over for a long time, and that reality is just dawning on many in the L.A organization. Baseball has changed, and O'Malley, increasingingly marginalized in ownership circles and forced to compete against multinational corporations with ever greater resources, finally sold the team and got out.
L.A. was a lifeless 36-38 as of Sunday despite a $57 million payroll. The new Dodger Way will not include standing idly by while the team underachieves.
On the Comeback Trail
Last summer Carl Everett was enjoying the best of his three full big league seasons. He was getting a substantial number of at bats for the first time. He was hitting with power and establishing himself as an aggressive outfielder for the Mets, one popular with teammates and fans alike as a do-whatever-it-takes type of player.
Then, on Aug. 6, everything stopped. A Shea Stadium child-care worker noticed a disturbing number of bruises and welts on the body of Everett's six-year-old daughter, Shawna. Mets officials were alarmed enough to contact the New York City Administration for Children's Services, which took custody of Shawna as well as Carl IV, Everett's five-year-old son. Everett and his wife, Linda, were charged in family court with child abuse. Judge Richard Berman ultimately found the couple guilty of child neglect, ruling that Linda had inflicted "excessive corporal punishment" and that her husband had failed to stop her. Shawna and Carl IV were placed in foster care, and Everett—whose wife admitted in court that she and her husband had disciplined the children with a belt—became the center of a New York tabloid storm. "In New York, if it's in ink, it's true," says Everett, 27, who was traded to the Astros for pitcher John Hudek last December. "New York is a gruesome city that doesn't look for the truth. They just want to sell a story."
Everett won't go further than mat in talking about last year-. Ask him about his new baby girl, born last month, and don't even expect him to tell you her name. "I lost some trust after that," he says of his New York experience. "I could tell my whole story, and it probably wouldn't come out right." The one thing he will discuss, however, is fresh starts. Coming off that nightmare season, in which he finished with a .248 average, 14 homers and 57 RBIs, Everett now feels renewed.
In April, after Carl and Linda attended therapy sessions and signed an agreement promising not to use corporal punishment, Carl IV returned home; Shawna, Everett's daughter by another woman, is living with her maternal grandmother. For Houston, meanwhile, Everett is living up to the potential that made him the Yankees' first-round pick in the 1990 draft. At week's end he was batting .342 and led the Astros in on-base percentage (.422). "Carl needed a fresh start," says Houston second baseman Craig Biggio. "He's been nothing but a good addition. I don't know all that happened in New York, but it's the past."
Maybe so, but the past still haunts him. Recently Judge Berman publicly criticized the Everetts for skipping not only counseling sessions but also a June conference at which they were to discuss their case. And though he has been received warmly in Houston, reporters around the league still regularly ask Everett about his parenting.