If you happen to follow any of our social media accounts, you would have seen that Saturday was the anniversary of the day that former owner Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Guggenheim Management Group for $2.1 billion, the highest amount ever paid for a team in the history of professional sports.
This was, no doubt, a huge revolution in franchise history.
Right at the top of the sale was a criminal investigation of some of McCourt’s actions while in charge of the organization. Before the final sale went through, a federal grand jury was investigating McCourt’s endeavors for possible criminal financial misconduct of the team.
Moreover, about six months prior to the team’s sale, the financial records of the team were on full display in court during the divorce proceedings between Frank and his former wife, Jamie. Testimony revealed some of the most outrageous financial decisions the husband and wife were making.
One of those outrageous decisions was the hiring of Vladimir Shpunt to send positive energy to the team with hopes of winning games. Shpunt, a Russian-born physicist, healer, and psychic, was on the McCourt’s payroll from 2005-10, reportedly earning yearly salaries well into six figures. Primarily, Shpunt would send what he called “V-Energy” through the television screen to all the Los Angeles players from more than 3,000 miles away.
The crazy part about the whole thing was that Shpunt eventually admitted that he essentially knew nothing about baseball and that he attended just one Dodger game in person during his five-plus year tenure.
Surely, Shpunt must have been one heck of a salesman to land such a cushy gig.
According to multiple testimonies, Shpunt was introduced to Jamie McCourt in 2004 and reportedly had cured her of an eye infection through long-distance energy transmissions.
One of Shpunt’s first big projects with the team was to help treat outfielder Jayson Werth’s shattered wrist in 2005. At the time, Werth was a rising prospect on the Los Angeles farm, but he was suffering from severe ligament damage, putting his playing career in jeopardy. Werth had one in-person healing session and one long-distance healing session with Shpunt, apparently not successful.
Nevertheless, Shpunt’s main task was to help the club win ballgames.
After the Dodgers won the National League West Division title in 2008, Frank wrote in a company email “special thank you to Vlad for all of his hard work.”
In a 2010 Los Angeles Times story, Shpunt told reporter Bill Shaikin that he had the ability to improve a team’s chances of winning by 10-15%.
“It’s very big work,” Shpunt said to Shaikin. “My blood pressure may be 200, but I like this team to win.”
Joe Torre, a current executive for MLB who managed the Dodgers from 2008-10, was around briefly during Shpunt’s time with the club. Torre’s first season with the Dodgers was Shpunt’s last. Asked whether he felt the division title won by the Dodgers in 2008 was in any way tainted because Shpunt’s help, Torre replied, “I’m not going there.”
At one point, Shpunt thought his results with the Dodgers had been so successful that he started to work with other teams and professional athletes, offering both in-person treatment and psychic vibrations from a distance.
All this was happening less than 12 years ago.
Today, rather than getting on the horn and asking Vlad to shoot and extra burst of V-Energy, the team has employed mathematical wizards like Robert Van Scoyoc, who can easily calculate the optimal launch angle for a hitter to drive a ball deep into the outfield bleachers, undoubtedly one of the key reasons why the Dodgers have become the premiere power-hitting team in the majors.
Boy, how times have changed.