TRUCKEE, Calif. – I never dreamed I would be eliminated before the Angels.
But on Monday I will submit my signature for a VSP, and who said I couldn’t bring a smile to Angry Arte’s face.
I’m told VSP stands for Voluntary Separation Package, but it really means retirement after 41 years writing down athletes’ clichés, including translating what Tom Lasorda meant to say free of all obscenities.
I could have waited to see if my name falls on a list of employees to be laid off after the VSP program expires, but then I would lose a chunk of severance pay, and I’m going to need it if I ever want to buy a ticket to attend a game, park and eat something.
Or, I could have gambled that I would be allowed to continue writing a column over the objections of emailers.
So I am done, although my apologies, I still have about two weeks of columns left to write before never again getting the chance to question the Dodgers on why they are such underachievers.
No one is to blame here, and quite the contrary.
I took a punch to the gut in the final months with the Los Angeles Times. I got the impression the newspaper was offended that I had gotten older and had to be taken to the hospital after seeing what the Angels had to offer in spring training.
The editors couldn’t come right out and say I looked almost dead, so they tried to find some other reason to get rid of me. I still don’t understand why they just didn’t assign me to a hockey game and then fired me for refusing to do so.
They conducted an investigation, and apparently found no wrongdoing because who offers someone an unprecedented guaranteed contract to remain as Page 2 columnist if they’ve done something wrong?
Instead, I opted to leave, admittedly a beaten man.
But then I was given the electrifying chance to join the Register and more than 100 new fresh, young, energetic faces hired by two idealistic owners who were convinced people would still read newspapers.
I got the chance to work with Todd Harmonson, who talks about as much as Clint Eastwood in a Western, and who is just as talented a journalist as Eastwood is an actor.
There wasn’t a better place to work because the entire newspaper industry was pulling for the Register, the last great hope for newspaper survival.
Now I don’t know the financial reasons why they have had to suddenly apply the brakes; it really doesn’t matter. And it trumps any journalism argument I might make.