In one of the more shocking revelations about the dysfunctional McCourt-era Los Angeles Dodgers, L.A. Times columnist Bill Shaikin reveals that Frank and Jaime McCourt paid a Russian spiritual healer six figures to send positive energy to the team over long distances. Process that for a second: a professional baseball team had a psychic on the payroll:
Vladimir Shpunt, 71, lived most of his life in Russia. He has three degrees in physics and a letter of reference from a Nobel Prize winner. He knows next to nothing about baseball. Yet the Dodgers hired him to, well, think blue. Frank and Jamie McCourt paid him to help the team win by sending positive energy over great distances. Shpunt says he is a scientist and a healer, not a magician. His method could not guarantee the Dodgers would win, he says, but it could make a difference.
The McCourts, currently embroiled in a nasty divorce that makes me hate both of them equally, kept the hire secret from even the team's top executive and probably even Lasorda. In statements through their respective spokespersons, they both claim that the other one hired Shpunt, who lives in Boston. Because yes, that makes perfect sense to pay six figures to a dude who lives 4,000 miles away to watch a sport he doesn't understand on television.
Heck, I absolutely despise the Dodgers, but I'll take half that to change my rooting interests, sit on my rump and send 'positive energy' as I watch the team on teevee.
The McCourts first encountered Shpunt in 2005, as Jamie was suffering an infection in her right eye and was referred to Shpunt by a mutual friend. She claims that he 'healed' her eye with his magic hands. I claim that her real doctor gave her antibiotics and it cleared up the pink eye, but what the hell do I know? Luckily, the McCourts decided to hire Shpunt as a long-distance healer and not as a member of the training staff.
Wasting franchise money on such hokum is certainly bad, but the McCourt's devotion to such mumbo-jumbo could have produced far worse results. At one point, Shpunt attempted to provide actual hands-on healing to one of the Dodgers' injured players and nearly threatened the career of one of their young hitters:
In 2005, Jamie referred outfielder Jayson Werth to him for treatment of a wrist injury, after Werth had told her of his interest in alternative medicine, according to Cohen and representatives for Frank and Jamie.
Werth had one in-person healing session and one distance healing session, apparently not successful. In 2008, as he emerged as a star with the Philadelphia Phillies, Werth said Dodgers doctors had misdiagnosed the injury and that he did not get proper treatment until he went to the Mayo Clinic on his own. He made no mention of Shpunt.
Atrocious. One can only shake their head and tut-tut the McCourts for throwing their dirty money away on such ridiculous faux-science, but to hear that they put a still-developing player in danger with SOMETHING THAT MAKES EVEN HOLISTIC HEALING SOUND GOOD, one wants to smack the troubled couple upside the head with a two-by-four. Shame on you, Frank and Jaime.
(via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy, the only blog that could soften my hatred of the Dodgers)