Expectations remain high for McCourt
Owner pleased with progress made this season
PHILADELPHIA -- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said losing the National League Championship Series to the Phillies for the second consecutive season doesn't negate the progress the club is making toward its goal of a championship and dismissed speculation that front-office turmoil will hinder offseason personnel moves.
"Nothing's changed," McCourt said when asked if there would be a negative impact on financial resources for player personnel in the wake of last week's confirmation that he and wife Jamie McCourt, the club's CEO, had separated.
McCourt was in the clubhouse after the Dodgers were eliminated by Wednesday night's loss to the Phillies.
"It's a horrible, horrible feeling," McCourt said of the defeat. "Everybody in this room is hurting. It rips a hole in your stomach. That's why it's so precious to win. We're on a mission here to win and everybody knows it and this year we just came up short."
Even though the Dodgers repeated last year's postseason results -- sweeping to a first-round win, getting bounced from the second round in five games -- McCourt said the franchise took another step toward a championship. The Dodgers have reached the postseason three times in four years for the first time since 1963-66 and won consecutive division titles for the first time since 1977-78.
"We're making progress and it was a great team this year," McCourt said. "I enjoyed the heck out of the year. This group came together as a team, they battled and never quit, but at the end we didn't capture the prize and it's a very empty feeling.
"I feel very pleased we reached the postseason again and had a great sweep of the Cardinals. I had a different feel about this series from last year. I really felt we had a strong chance. Last year, it was a bit of a learning experience. This year, overall, the younger players were a year older and a little more prepared."
McCourt suggested that the series turned on Game 4 Monday night, when the Dodgers were one out away from tying the series at 2-2, only for the Phillies to pull off a walk-off victory against closer Jonathan Broxton.
"I think we had a heck of a season and that's a good team we were playing against, and they are playing great," McCourt said. "Take nothing away from the Phillies. But who knows, if the fourth game had ended different, who knows what would have happened? That's why it's so hard to be champions. I did feel we took it to them a little more this year than last year."
McCourt said it was too soon to answer questions about player personnel.
"I need a little bit more reflection on that," McCourt said. "I'll be interested to hear what all of our baseball people think. We'll all get together and debrief. They all have opinions and they're not afraid to air them. I'll be especially interested to hear what Ned [Colletti, general manager] and Joe [Torre, manager] have to say. It's too early to make any comments."
McCourt also attempted to squelch speculation that management will be distracted by ownership uncertainty.
"This group is all very solid, very tight," McCourt said. "We're well-aligned and we'll do what we've done every year. We'll start tomorrow on next season and figure out how to get better and get over the top. Our organization is on a mission to win and we're going to do it. We're really getting the culture established where our expectation is to win. Everybody is learning what it takes. It takes a huge commitment."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.