Joe-Pinions: Sports

28 Mar 2012 – Something Does NOT Compute in $2Billion Dodger Sale

Posted in Baseball by txtmstrjoe on 28/03/2012

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that I don’t often write about baseball.  In fact, I believe this is my first-ever post about what used to be called “America’s Pastime.”

Being a fan of the pathetic Oakland Athletics tends to dampen my enthusiasm, you see.

Yeah, I suppose I could go and support either one of my local baseball teams, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (ahem) or the Los Angeles Dodgers.  But I can’t.  Despite the fact I consider skipper Mike Scioscia to be one of the very best in the game, I just can’t become an Angels fan.  They’re a division rival of the A’s, and I can never root for such a close rival.  I admire Scioscia and have the utmost respect for him, but I can’t love him and root for the Angels.  And the Dodgers?  Well, I love the shade of blue they have on their uniform, but although a couple of my closest friends and my baby sister are fans of the team, I can’t root for the Dodgers either.  They did beat my A’s in the 1988 World Series, and I haven’t forgotten the sting from that.

So, yeah, being an A’s fan means I won’t write much about baseball unless there are just some stories about the Majors or about the game that I just want to share some thoughts on.

Presently, the big baseball story that caught my personal radar has to do with the sale of the Dodgers to a consortium that includes Lakers great Magic Johnson.

Honestly, what caught my eye about this story is not the fact that Magic is part of the group which registered the winning bid.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve not loved the Magic Johnson from his post-Lakers playing days nearly as much as I used to adore the basketball god that wore No. 32 for the Purple and Gold.

It’s not the idea that, now that a winning bidder for the L.A. Dodgers has been designated, the stench of Frank McCourt can finally be booted out of Chavez Ravine once and for all.  Even if the facts state that, under his tenure the Dodgers have started a climb back to contention on the field (appearing in the Major League playoffs in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009 after an eight-year drought), McCourt has done so much to destroy the Dodgers brand.  McCourt, a Bostonian, has been ridiculed and reviled as a self-serving, self-indulgent, disingenuous outsider who took ownership of one of Los Angeles’ most revered institutions without even spending a cent of his own money (he took ownership of the team on the backs of several “partners” who funded the purchase).  The Los Angeles sports media has crucified McCourt and his family for using the L.A. Dodgers as a de facto ATM, funneling the team’s revenues into funding their ultra-extravagant lifestyles (and doing nothing to increase the team’s on-field performance).  Even if I am not a fan of the team, I can’t help but notice just how harmful his time at the helm of this uniquely-storied franchise has been.  The Dodgers may not win every year, but they should never ever project a negative impression.  Under McCourt, the Dodgers’ image has been tarnished, a mere shadow of its old historic glories.  This, despite the team’s reappearance in the MLB playoffs.

No, what grabbed my attention was the reported figure for Magic Johnson’s winning consortium’s bid for ownership of the L.A. Dodgers:  $2.1BILLION.  That’s BILLION, with a gigantic, lit-in-a-neon-Dodger-Blue B.

Two BILLION dollars for a Major League Baseball franchise that’s been reduced to a sad, sorry punchline?  Two BILLION dollars for a team that, by most accounts, has been run into the ground once its owners decided they were going to get divorced?

Staggering.

Unbelievable.

Illogical.

Incomprehensible.

My first thought at hearing the amount of the winning bid was that, somehow, the value of the Los Angeles Dodgers skyrocketed to somewhere past Jupiter’s orbit in the Solar System despite its owner’s shenanigans.

That’s not even the kicker, folks.  Oh, no.

The real kick in the rear here is that, of that $2.1BILLION, around HALF will go to Frank McCourt himself.  Approximately $1BILLION will be deposited in Frank McCourt’s personal coffers.  Ostensibly, this obscene amount of money will still be left over even after Frank’s divorce settlement, his lawyer fees, and paying off his original creditors.

Frank McCourt gets to pocket around $1BILLION for agreeing to sell the Dodgers, even though he never paid a single cent to take ownership of the team in the first place.

Now how in the name of all that is sacred is this possible?

The sale of the Dodgers has exposed the festering sickness in the system.  How you care to define this “system” I’ll leave up to you.  You can say the bidders were all sick to register such obscenely large bids on what is obviously (to me, if to no one else) a horrendously inflated and arbitrarily-arrived at value for the Los Angeles Dodgers; you can say Major League Baseball, led by Commissioner Bud Selig, is ultimately responsible for this travesty, since it allowed McCourt to take ownership of the team in the first place; you can say America itself is sick, to allow such a cynical fraud of a transaction to even be legal.

No matter what, the sums just don’t add up.  Logic has been derailed, and we who live in the real world simply just don’t get it.

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