Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

New Dodger Ownership Injects Optimism and Hope, Press Conference set for 10AM

The sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to Magic Johnson and the GBM (Guggenheim Baseball Management) has been finalized and closed yesterday. The Dodgers made the announcement yesterday afternoon and are scheduled to have a press conference at 10AM PT on KCAL today introducing the new ownership to Dodger fans. The press conference will be televised on Prime Ticket. Apparently Stan Kasten, who will run the Baseball operations, has already been in contact with Ned Colletti over the last few weeks and made his way through the Dodger clubhouse last Sunday to meet and greet the players for the first time.

With the closing of the sale, our long collective nightmare has finally ended. Frank McCourt is out, Magic Johnson, the GBA, and Stan Kasten are in to start a new era of Dodger Baseball. 99% of Dodger fans are very happy to see McCourt go naturally, ending one of the most frustrating and embarrassing tenures in Dodger history. We might have experienced some lean times during the FOX years, but nothing could prepare Dodger fans for the nightmare that unfolded.

 

Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie,bought the team from the FOX News Corp. for 371 million dollars in 2004. On the eve of the 2009 NLCS, Frank announced he would be divorcing wife Jamie which sparked a nasty tug of war for control of the Dodgers. The question ignited endless debate. Who really owned the team? Frank or his wife Jamie? As the two battled in court over control of the Dodgers, the on field product suffered, as the Dodgers were unable to spend freely on big name free agents, and spending and resources on international players, and a deteriorated farm system came to a halt. We found the two spent nearly 190 million dollars on non Baseball related expenses, which they used to lavish their expensive lifestyles.

As the team slumped on the field, Frank and Jamie finally came to an agreement last year. Frank agreed to pay her 130 million dollars and she would go away. She did, and we were still left with Frank, who had every intention of holding onto the Dodgers until Bud Selig pried the club from his cold dead hands.

Eventually in early 2011, we learned that Frank was in deep debt, and might not have enough cash to even make payroll. Frank was trying to push for an early negotiation of the Dodgers TV rights to bring in extra cash to get him and the Dodgers out of debt, even though the new proposed TV deal he wanted would have broken their existing contracts.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig disapproved of the proposed TV deal, and he eventually took over control of the Dodgers finances. Finally as expected, Frank McCourt filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. As the battle in the courts heated up, the ownership saga hung over the team like a black rain cloud during the 2011 season. By June the Dodgers were in last place, and uncertainty was everywhere. Stacie, myself, and all Dodger fans prepared ourselves for our inevitable descent into hell.

Those black clouds began to clear by July 2011. The Dodgers went 45-28 over the final 73 games to finish the 2011 season with a winning record. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw had seasons for the ages. Kemp finishing second in the NL MVP voting, and Clayton Kershaw winning the NL Cy young award for his total domination over all opponents. Several rookie phenom prospects emerged as well, such as Dee Gordon, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, and Josh Lindblom. Andre Ethier got healthy, and we got the news in November that we had been waiting to hear for a long time. Frank McCourt had agreed to sell the team through Bankruptcy auction. The exciting and strange bidding process began. Everyone wanted to buy the Dodgers. We had a few crazies throw their hats into the ring, but when all was said and done, three favorites emerged. Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, and a third group headed by Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim partner firm. Stacie and I could only pray that Magic and his group would win the bid to ensure the annoying Kroenke and evil hedge-Fund manager would come nowhere near our beloved Dodgers.

Then on March 27, the announcement came that sent all of Los Angeles into jubilation. Magic Johnson and his group had won the bid to purchase the Dodgers for an eye popping 2.15 billion dollars (evetually 2.3 billion after additional costs). That is a whole lot of cheddar. Stacie and I knew the only bidder that would be a perfect fit for the Dodgers would be Magic. He is the only one that would fight to preserve Dodger Stadium for another 50 years. He will preserve and protect Dodger tradition. He will commit to putting a winning team on the field and rebuilding a dry farm system.

Of course it is not all hunky dory. There are some questions.  Some questions like will Magic and the GBA be able to recoup their return on their investment? Will they make any major changes right away? How will this new partnership with Frank McCourt over the parking lots affect Dodger Stadium in the future?

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Those questions should all be answered in time. However it should be all smiles right now, considering that McCourt only has a part investment in the parking lots and does not have control.

Lame duck McCourt made his final visit to the Dodger clubhouse last week as he said goodbye to Don Mattingly. Donnie said he seemed a bit sad. I can say this with confidence, Dodger fans are not sad. We are happy. As the announcement of new ownership rippled through Dodger land, the team is off to their best start in 30 years led by the bat of Matt Kemp, the greatest player in Baseball. Get me a 500 CC’s of new ownership, new cash, and hope stat! The Dodgers have now finally emerged from bankruptcy

MLB comissioner Bud Selig had this to say

After a long and difficult road, the sale of the Dodgers is now complete, and I am pleased that the club can have the fresh start it deserves under new ownership,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “I congratulate Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and all of their partners, and I look forward to working with them.

“In addition, I want to personally thank all Dodger fans for their patience and loyalty during this trying period.  I have said many times that we owed it to them to ensure that the club was being operated properly and would be guided appropriately in the future. It is my great hope and firm expectation that today’s change in ownership marks the start of a new era for the Los Angeles Dodgers and that this historic franchise will once again make the city of Los Angeles proud

 

Perhaps the biggest weapon that Magic Johnson will be bringing to the Dodgers isn’t his pocketbook but his winning smile, positive attitude, and passion for success. Magic is warm and inviting. Everyone loves him. EVERYONE. Trust me when I say all Dodger fans wanted Magic. What Magic is injecting into the Dodgers is renewed hope and optimism for a franchise that desperately needs some. The clouds have cleared over Dodger Stadium, and I can see clearly now because the rain is gone. I love Magic.

I have a copy of the original Dodger press telegram magazine from the 1988 world Series. The magazine is no longer in publication of course, it has been defunct for many years now. I have the magazine hanging on my wall in my apartment. On the front cover is a pic of Orel Hershiser and Rick Dempsey embracing after the Dodgers had just clinched their sixth World Championship. I look at it every day to remind me of greatness,and the Dodger way. The Dodgers were great once, and they can be again. With all of the new hope, maybe Stacie and I can realize our dreams come true. Our dream of watching the Dodgers win the World Series at Dodger Stadium. We hope you will join us. There is some Magic over the Ravine, and hopefully I will have a second magazine to hang on my wall soon.

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Tags: Clayton Kershaw Dodgers Frank McCourt GBM Magic Johnson Matt Kemp