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The Dodgers paid a guy big money to channel "V energy"

Jun 10, 2010, 8:20 AM EDT

The Dodgers appeared to intentionally draft an unsignable pick in the first round the other day, quite possibly because they didn’t feel like paying anyone first round bonus money this year. But while they don’t appear to want to spend on ballplayers, the team had no problem spending six figures on some whack-job Rasputin “scientist and healer” figure to “send positive energy over great distances” in an effort to help the Dodgers win games.

It all comes out in a story from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that you have to read in its entirely to believe, but even a glimpse is enough to cause Dodgers fans to slam their heads into a wall.

The upshot: Vladimir Shpunt is a physicist of dubious quality who emigrated from Russia in 1998. He believes that his body channels 10 to 15 percent more “natural energy” that normal people’s bodies, and that that energy can be transmitted through both his hands and over great distances. He basically built a faith healing practice out of it in Russia.

Flash forward to 2004. Jamie McCourt has an eye infection and somehow gets referred to this guy, who she thinks healed her. She refers Frank to him and the relationship is bonded. They think about adding him to the Dodgers training staff but they don’t. They do refer Jayson Werth to him when he injures his wrist but — surprise surprise — it doesn’t help. Werth later says, without being specific, that the Dodgers misdiagnosed and mistreated his injuries. He goes to the Mayo clinic instead. Smart guy.

But the McCourts like the cut of Shpun’s jib and hire him anyway, paying him in excess of six figures to sit in his Boston home, watch Dodgers games on TV and send his positive energy their way. He counseled the McCourts to fire general manager Paul DePodesta and manager Jim Tracy. He also thinks he helped them win the NL West. The McCourts apparently do too, as they kept him on payroll and sent him thank you notes after clinching a playoff spot in 2004. Frank and Jamie each blame the other for hiring the guy, but it was quite obviously a team effort.

It is also merely the latest bit of evidence that the McCourts haven’t a clue what they’re doing and have wasted untold amounts of the Dodgers money on the sort of ridiculous things on which clueless rich people tend to spend their money.

The Dodgers were once thought of as the marquee franchise in all of baseball. The McCourts have turned the club into a laughingstock.

  1. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 10, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    My use of the term “swindle” is not meant as a term of legal art. I have no idea of the specifics of the business arrangements between Shpunt and his clients beyond what was stated in the L.A. Times article. I’m not suggesting he stole anything from anyone or committed fraud. A fool and his money are soon parted, as they say. Indeed, the man himself may be deluded into believing that he actually can heal people and affect change by watching a ballgame on TV.
    My point is that as a man with a degree and, as you say, a long track record in the hard sciences, ought to know better. If he does know better in terms of what is scientifically possible, shame on him for fooling dumb rich people. If he does not know any better and actually believes that he can do these things, it calls his scientific reputation into serious question.

  2. Michael - Jun 10, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    Yes, I agree. You have properly mentioned the two options.
    Except that there also exists one more option, beside those two that you mentioned. The man may be unable to explain, as a scientist, the things which he is doing as a …help me to find the word …call it swindler if you wish
    I know a couple of folks in my research community, who happen to possess such strange (let me say it: impossible and unscientific) abilities. One is a full professor of hard sciences at a respected school in MidWest. These people keep their abilities in a great secret from their colleagues. Should anyone know, and these dudes’ academic career will be destroyed irreparably. One fellow keeps this in secret even from most of his family. However the most dramatic aspect of this double life is that these people know very exactly, as physicists, that these things are impossible and in an acute contradiction whith what they teach their students and explore in their labs and write in their papers. And still…
    This world is bigger than we think

  3. Harvey - Jun 10, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    You may not believe, but I bet next time the billy goat gets let in to watch the game.

  4. SkyWest - Jun 11, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    So lemme get this straight. Wade Boggs leavin his third button unbuttoned and eatin KFC chicken for extra base hits (before most games) can be categorically and scientifically proven to have had no effect upon his All Srar batting average nor his in excess of 7 figure salary?
    Maybe we should reactively burn that Boston icon at the stake for such heretical belief systems? Damn Swindlers!

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