The stiff and formal Tracy wasn’t lovable, and he was only mildly admirable as another devoted baseball man among a legion of devoted baseball men. What the racket was all about was this: A chance to bring the stick for Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, his wife Jamie and for general manager Paul DePodesta. Callous, conniving, cheap and clueless ogres, the lot of them. Sending Walter Alston Reincarnate into the void of employment. What hypocrisy. We wouldn’t want to make a habit of defending DePodesta and the McCourts (particularly the latter duo), but uncoupling Jim Tracy doesn’t qualify as the crime of the century. Consider: We’re just going to guess and say Jim Tracy didn’t sell one ticket to a Dodgers game. He was the definition of vanilla, ill-suited for Los Angeles’ celebrity-driven culture. Tommy Lasorda, he was not.Tracy was hired during the Fox regime. Those of you in the private sector know that a change in ownership usually means new people in every management position. That Tracy was given two seasons by people to whom he had no particular allegiance or ties showed considerable patience by the McCourts and DePodesta. The Dodgers fired manager Jim Tracy this week, and from the media hue and cry you’d have thought the club shot Lassie. The downtown critics who trashed the Dodgers for dumping Jim Tracy, and got all misty over his “unfair” ouster, don’t love and admire Jim Tracy. Tracy at least subtly, and sometimes actively, thwarted the will of DePodesta. Tracy rarely played Hee-Seop Choi, the first baseman DePodesta likes for his ability to get on base and hit for power – and Tracy loathed for his batting average and lead glove. Is that any way to run a team? With a GM procuring Players A, B and C . . . and the field manager not playing them? Is it unreasonable for a GM – whose job also is at stake – to expect the guys he brings in will get at-bats and innings? A basic concept at work here: The clash of Old School baseball vs. the Stat Wonk academicians. Tracy was firmly grounded in the former camp, as are most sports journalists. DePodesta in the latter. The Old School guys believe in “chemistry” and “intangibles.” They talk about a guy’s value to the clubhouse and believe leadership somehow translates to victories. The modern Stat Wonk isn’t interested in a guy’s ability to quip in the face of adversity. He wants to know how often he gets to first base, how often he scores and how many runs he drives in. Baseball’s masses of numbers lend themselves to computer analysis – much to the chagrin of the anti-modern romantics, who prefer to count on their fingers and toes. Bright guys such as Oakland GM Billy Beane understand that. Such as DePodesta, too. Baseball is riven, just now, between the Old School Neanderthals and the Stat Wonk Futurists. The former feel threatened by the latter, and rarely miss a chance to mock them for their computers and spread sheets. Locally, they rarely miss a chance to compare the Dodgers unfavorably to the Angels, who are perceived as some warm-and-fuzzy, seat-of-the-pants Mom and Pop operation. The Stat Wonks, meanwhile, are frustrated by the intransigence of the “we’ve always done it that way” crew and, yes, can be arrogant toward and dismissive of the old-timers. Copernicus felt the same way about the flat-earth crew. Bottom line: Stat Wonk GMs, such as DePodesta, are now running their clubs. The field manager exists to implement policy. Not to make it. Tracy wasn’t on board with that. The next manager will be. Then there is just plain personal distaste. Most baseball lifers and their apologists, sports journalists, come from modest backgrounds. They react badly to people with pedigrees and advanced degrees who seem to put on airs. That’s the McCourts all over. DePodesta, too, to a lesser extent. That the McCourts come from Boston and DePodesta gradyated from Harvard . . . more problems. They can’t possibly have the interests of a Los Angeles sports franchise at heart, can they? (Even though they depend on that franchise’s success for their future income and employ.) So we have this sort of perfect storm of friction: Reactionary critics and their old-fashioned baseball allies critiquing modern analysts and their corporate ways (out-of-towners, by the way) – and those damn computers, the essence of soulless modernity. Tracy didn’t fit The New Model Ballclub. That’s what the Dodgers are now. This club is built on modern statistical analysis – not by the hunches and gut-feelings of old baseball men or their overly emotional journalist allies. Jim Tracy’s ouster is no crime. In fact, it was required to get the organization pulling on the same end of the rope. If the Dodgers are 71-91 two years from now, that’s when fans should march on Chavez Ravine. We’re guessing DePodesta’s Dodgers are far more likely to be 91-71, once he has his team in place. Including the guy who makes out the lineup card. Paul Oberjuerge’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Readers may reach him at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!