New Dodgers ownership group provides hope for fallen franchise
After eight years, the Frank McCourt era has finally come to an end for the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a lifelong Dodger fan, the emotions are a mix of relief for the ordeal finally closing and excitement for what may lie ahead. For the first time since Manny arrived in the summer of 2008, there is reason to be a Dodger fan again.
The Dodgers’ Tuesday night announcement that they had been sold to a group called Guggenheim Baseball Management for $2.15 billion likely became the highlight of the season. With the team bankrupt McCourt managed to assemble for the season, I doubt any on-field result could out do this.
The fans agree this new ownership group, Guggenheim Baseball Management, should curb the on-field disappointment that appears inevitable. This group contains a few interesting names that will be heavily dissected over the coming days, or even months.
Obviously, Lakers legend Magic Johnson is the flashiest name in the group. When the sale was announced, he was the one we all picked out and declared to have saved our Dodgers. He will, and really already has begun to, rally our depressed fan base to return to Dodger Stadium. More importantly, he brings a friendly, trustworthy face to the Dodgers ownership and will rebuild the relationship between the fans and the team.
Magic Johnson will not, however, be the one to deliver World Series titles to the fans. He won’t be responsible for rebuilding the on-field product and returning the Dodgers to an elite level. That role belongs to Stan Kasten, former team president for the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, who is also a member of the incoming ownership group. Kasten is a man who has the experience in running a successful baseball franchise.
Under his reign as president from 1987 to 2003, the Atlanta Braves reached the World Series five times with one victory and played in the National League Championship Series nine times. Dodger fans should remember his name as he will be the one making the decisions when it comes to the day-to-day baseball operations.
Finally, the money behind the deal comes from the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners and its chief executive officer Mark Walter. He becomes the team’s controlling owner and the money man for the group. Luckily, from the sound of things so far, he will take a back seat to Kasten when it comes to baseball operations and Magic when it comes to being the face of the franchise.
This group also includes a few others here and there, including Golden State Warriors minority owner Peter Guber, but the three listed above stand out as those who really matter.
The three provide excitement and hope for a team who has seen so little in the past few seasons. In part, this is simply because they are anyone besides Frank McCourt, whose appearances in divorce and bankruptcy court have embarrassed the great franchise this fan base loves.
I don’t think any new owner would have instantly become an improvement, though. This ownership has pieces that make them special. The love for Magic is obvious, he is an icon in Southern California. This group was always going to be welcomed with open arms because of him. Kasten’s involvement can’t be ignored. The man has saved the day before, and should be entrusted with the resources to produce a winner again. And if this group has the money it appears to have, Walter will be embraced for that simple fact.
Clearly, it is too early to speculate on the impact they will have. The new group will take control of the franchise no earlier than May 1, so we will have to wait until the offseason to see the plans they may be drawing up.
But in the meantime, fans can all return to fill up the seats at Dodger Stadium, knowing the cash will no longer go towards McCourt’s legal fees.