One of the oldest, most historic franchises in Major League Baseball, the crown jewel of baseball on the West Coast and formerly THE franchise of all Los Angeles is officially a wreck.
And just how did all of this come about? In all seriousness and looking at it in a fact based reality….
I recall a few decades ago when King George The Only (arguably one of the greatest owners in baseball with the possibility of all major sports) was removed from The Bronx Zoo for actions detrimental to his team. Bud Selig, a still kinda’ sorta’ owner in his own right, has for the most part, kept great stewardship of MLB in his tenure. Be it securing the future of Montreal in the Nation’s Capitol or making sure the Have Nots can try to compete with the Haves, Interleague Play or Wild Cards, one who looks at it realistically would have a hard time completely discrediting his term as Commissioner.
So how did this happen? Let’s get a few opinions….
Folks in Boston knew McCourt would be a disaster for Major League Baseball. He was a smooth-talking, nicely dressed, well-mannered guy with parking lots and delusions of grandeur. He fancied himself as a serious bidder for the Red Sox in 2001 when the Yawkey Trust put the team up for sale, but nobody in Boston took McCourt seriously because he didn’t have enough of his own money.
The “sale” of the Red Sox turned out to be a bag-job of the highest order. Cable czar Charles Dolan submitted the highest bid, while Boston businessman Joe O’Donnell was viewed as the local favorite to get the team.
Tire-kicker McCourt was never in the running. In December 2001, Selig announced that John Henry’s bid was the winner. Selig was beholden to Henry (former owner of the Marlins) and put him together with Tom Werner (former owner of the Padres) and Larry Lucchino (former Orioles and Padres boss).
Selig denied all charges of a fix, but later admitted, “Someday you’ll thank me for this.”
He was right. Henry has been a spectacular owner. The Sox have won two World Series, made the playoffs six times in eight years, rebuilt Fenway Park, and established a record-breaking home sellout streak.
McCourt, meanwhile, has turned the Dodgers into a major league joke. On Monday the iconic franchise filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
-Dan Shaughnessy is a columnist for The Boston Globe
Facing the painful prospect of stiffing players and employees, the Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday, adding to off-the-field troubles that have hobbled one of baseball’s most storied franchises and setting up another showdown with Major League Baseball.
Team owner Frank McCourt, upset baseball Commissioner Bud Selig rejected a multibillion-dollar TV deal last week, now hopes a federal judge will approve $150 million in financing to be used for daily operations and give him more time to seek a more favorable media contract. A hearing is set for Tuesday.
The move by a cash-starved McCourt comes just days before he was expected to miss team payroll Thursday and possibly be confronted with an MLB takeover. The filing also means it’s unlikely a resolution over team ownership, a fight that began two years ago when McCourt and his ex-wife and former team CEO Jamie McCourt decided to divorce, will be found any time soon.
Selig said in a statement that the bankruptcy filing has inflicted further harm upon the Dodgers.
“We have consistently communicated to Mr. McCourt that any potential solution to his problems that contemplates mortgaging the future of the Dodgers franchise to the long-term detriment of the club, its loyal fans and the game of baseball would not be acceptable,” he said. “To date, the ideas and proposals that I have been asked to consider have not been consistent with the best interests of baseball.”
Among the 40 largest unsecured claims, totaling about $75 million, are former Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez at nearly $21 million; Andruw Jones at $11 million; pitcher Hiroki Kuroda at $4.4 million; and the Chicago White Sox, which share a spring training facility with the Dodgers in Arizona, at $3.5 million. Longtime Dodger announcer Vin Scully is owed more than $150,000 as part of his contract, court documents show.
-Beth Harris, Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports)
According to most reports and insider information, The McCourts, who put a mere $30 million into the team upon taking ‘ownership’ have received five times that amount in return, often being referred to as using the Dodgers as their own personal ATM to support their lavish lifestyle.
My question is.. if McCourt wasn’t good enough to be a player in the sale of the beloved Red Sox.. excuse me, a player in the pre-determined sale of the beloved Red Sox, why was he suddenly a player in purchasing the West Coast equivalent? And why on Earth, with such a questionable and shaky investment strategy to begin with, was he/they allowed to mortgage The Dodgers organization (in separate divisions no less) beyond the point of no return before anyone who should have been watching started watching..?
The Dodgers, I feel, could be the beast of the opposite East or Best of the West should you prefer if their heads were on straight. You know somewhere in the players minds they’re worrying about getting paid, about being settled and about their futures. Teams in need often ring the dinner bell in a ‘fire-sale’ of trades… and the Blue have a lot of pieces to sell if they choose. One hopes that Selig will be standing his duty shift in the guard tower.
Many have said that the Dodgers have been in disarray since Rupert Murdoch bought the team back in ’98 and the team purged itself of the continuity that had settled Los Angeles as the premier team in Southern Cali as well as the National League. Most of the modern-day players who had a hand in that continuity or ‘The Dodger Way’, found themselves in Anaheim to help that other Los Angeles team. Several weeks ago during an ESPN Sunday Night broadcast, Orel Hershiser let it be known that he and Steve Garvey were heading an investment group who “if the opportunity presented itself” would be interested in purchasing the Dodgers and restoring ‘The Dodger Way’. See: Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers.
I went to a game earlier in the season, a mid-April encounter with the Braves. The Blue were doing fairly well and the media had put aside the unfortunate attack on a Giants fan to start the season. Of course, the Braves being my ‘back-up’ team due to their previous residency in Beantown, I was going in a 1935 Braves Babe Ruth #3 throwback. Everyone I worked with told me ‘no’… the stadium is in the ghetto, the fans are rubbish and obviously I’d be beaten for being a fan of the visitors… you know, in-between carjackings. It was a pleasant game. The Blue played well, took advantage of every opportunity and won a great game. The stadium was nearly empty but the fans who were there (obviously a few of the real Dodger fans) were friendly, talkative when the game called for it and not near what the ‘experts’ were saying. I never felt uncomfortable with three-quarters of the LAPD in attendance both in and outside of the stadium (including the officers of the mounted patrol who let the City Boy have a giddy nature moment petting a horse while chatting it up about the team, the Sox and my throwback jersey).
If you’re a baseball fan in Los Angeles… Go! Enough people at Angels games wearing their Dodger Blue caps. Wear it at a Dodgers game… please. If you love your team, let them know it. Yes, I know you guys have a lot of Arizona and Colorado to look at but these are opportunities to get better seats and cheer on the Blue for a win. Bud Selig can’t do it alone… he does indeed need your help.
Between the Dodgers and the Mets, baseball is looking at a long hot summer off the field.
It could be worse, though. Tom Yawkey or his Trust could still own the Red Sox.