Thursday, April 21, 2011

My thoughts on Major League Baseball taking over the Dodgers from Frank McCourt

I’m a lifelong Dodger fan. Went to the Coliseum as a kid (where you were closer to the action if you were in a blimp), cried when they lost the pennant to the dastardly Giants in ’62, took off from work to go to the downtown victory parade in ’81 (okay, I also picked up some great electronics at cheap prices – probably stolen), and I still carry my Sandy Koufax autographed ticket stub in my wallet. For eight seasons I hosted Dodger Talk on the radio. I may not bleed Dodger Blue like Tommy Lasorda, but I have all the bobbleheads (although the Manny Ramirez ones can be yours for a decent offer).

The point is I have always loved the Dodgers. And the Dodgers always made it easy for me to love them. They had (and still have, thank God) the greatest announcer in baseball history, they’ve fielded winning teams (enough of the time), and their owner created an organization that was built on pride, dedication, and class.

When I see what’s become of the franchise in the years since the O’Malley family sold it, it breaks my heart. This is like Queen Elizabeth being charged for a DUI.

Major League baseball yesterday announced that they were stepping in and assuming control of the Dodgers from owner, Frank McCourt. This comes after a messy and costly divorce, almost daily revelations of financial impropriety, and a fan being so severely beaten he’s in a medically induced coma. Attendance is down, season ticket sales is way down, and right or wrong, Dodger fans despise the owner.

Something had to be done. I believe commissioner Selig made the right decision – even though I have no idea who will be running the organization in the interim and who ultimately will own it. Something needed to be done to restore (or salvage even) the faith and allegiance this town has had for this franchise for over fifty years.

I don’t know if any of the charges against Frank McCourt are true. I don’t know if he funneled team profits into his own pocket. Honestly, he’s always been very fair and respectful to me. But the perception is so prevalent that he’s running this franchise into the ground that he can no longer even hope to change that public mindset. It would be like holding back the Pacific Ocean with a broom. Someone else needs to assume control. And look, everyone else in baseball gets fired – why not the owner?

Still, a couple of points I want to address. This should not be a palace coup. Working for McCourt within the organization are many talented, dedicated, people – people that Walter O’Malley would be proud to hire. I hope they survive and even prosper as a result of this takeover.

Also, the local reporters have had a field day over this as you can imagine. Among their list of grievances is that McCourt has let Dodger Stadium turn into a dump. This is just not true. Dodger Stadium is still a wonderful place to see a ballgame. It’s clean, it’s structurally sound (completely retrofitted), freshly painted, and all the more impressive is that it’s fifty years old, for crying out loud.

So as a Dodger fan I’m going to hope that this change is for the better, still root for the team, still go to Dodger Stadium, and savor every second I still have Vin Scully behind the mic.

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