Most of the time, some of you say I am a “Dodger Homer”, some of you say that I only see things through “blue” glasses.
Now, however, I am a pariah because I said that I was proud of the Giants. I guess you want it both ways. I’m a Dodger homer but shouldn’t be a fan. Geeeeezzzzzzzzzz!!!!!
Look, you can be racists and haters – you can be the Hatfields and McCoys, – you can be gang-bangers, you can be Giant haters, but I refuse to hate someone who is just a rival. I enjoy seeing the Dodgers beat the crap out of the Giants, and I will never be a Giants fan, but if you can’t admire what they did, then I pity your narrow-mindedness and I don’t really care what you think. Besides, you can’t whip me anyway. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but I might break your ________ (fill in the blank).
You can be narrow-minded haters. Life is too short for me to do that. Shoot, even Juan Marichal and John Roseboro became fast friends after they retired. I am proud of what the Giants accomplished because I like to hear stories of how the human spirit rose above challenges and prevailed. I like to see how people triumph over adversity. I am proud of them as human beings. I am proud of how they never gave up and overcame problems that seemed insurmountable. However, if I had to be a Giant fan, I would cut my wrists! Sorry if some of you can’t comprehend that.
For the record, I am rooting for the Tigers.
Now, I’m going to make some of you even madder.
When Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers with other people’s money, I was one of his few supporters. It seemed that everyone wanted someone with deep pockets to buy the Dodgers, but I was more concerned with having someone who could BUILD the Dodgers.
Obviously, in retrospect, I was wrong in supporting Frank McCourt, but I think that you need to understand why I supported him initially.
Here’s the long and short of it: I wanted family ownership, not corporate ownership. I wanted “hands on” not “hands off.” Think O’Malley, not Fox. I believed (and still believe) that big business is slow, bloated and unprofitable in this new economy. The old paradigm doesn’t work anymore. I wanted someone who was no part of the good ole’ boys club, who was hungry and wanted to build an empire. The Dodgers would be that person’s golden opportunity to slowly build an empire.
Frank McCourt initially fit that description. He was a renegade, a rebel, a man who marched to his own drum. That was a plus, in my opinion. In the end, it would be his undoing.
Cut to the chase: Frank and Jamie McCourt looted the Dodgers. Maybe it was at the behest of Jamie, but the Dodgers were looted nonetheless, and a Dodger employee said that Frank would take 100% of the blame for it. He would admit his mistake(s). He wouldn’t put it on Jamie. In fact, he has admitted his mistakes.
If Frank and Jamie had been patient and grew the brand slowly, they would have had LA in the palm of their hands, but they couldn’t wait. They conspired to be the epitome of the lifestyles of the rich and the famous. They bought houses and paid great sums of money for their extravagant lifestyle. If they had just paid themselves a “mere” $10 million a year for the first ten years and invested the rest back into the Dodgers (i.e., international scouting and player development) they would have been ultra successful and built a powerhouse. They had the personnel in place. They had a solid core of players and coaches and scouts that were as good as anyone, but power and money often corrupts (or maybe they were already corrupt) and the rest is history.
Frank McCourt is an astute businessman who often utilizes “sharp” practices to achieve his ends. To this day, it is hard to get his former employees to say anything bad about him. They admit he made some big mistakes (really big mistakes) and was greedy, but they also say that no one wrote about all the good Frank did, all the charities he funded, and how he was really liked by the people who worked for him.
Fans call him a scumbag, but you won’t hear that from the people closest to him. The best of us are usually not as good as we think and the worst of us are not as bad as we think. In some ways, Frank was a humanitarian, funding baseball fields and cancer research and various other charities. In other ways he was a money-grubbing, greedy rat bastard.
I wanted the “good Frank McCourt” not the greedy, Dodger-looting version we got.
It is for this same reason that I have trepidation about the new ownership. For the record, I am not against them, but I am suspicious of them. I am hopeful, but I have concerns. No matter what they say, there is a point of where the spending will have to stop. Guggenheim & Company is answerable to their partners and shareholders. They cannot spend without impunity. The Dodgers will have to generate a huge profit… and I think they will, but I am concerned. Power and money corrupts some people and it makes others think they are “bullet-proof.” I think Frank thought that.
I would have been more comfortable with Mark Cuban or Steven Cohen as owner, but Guggs and Company bid $600 million more than the number two bidder. I understand that they wanted to insure they were the high bidder, but $600 million is a lot. To pay $600 million more than you needed to for the Dodgers sends me a red flag. To be in bed with Frank McCourt on the Parking Lots and the land around the stadium concerns me. That they lied about it concerns me. That Magic Johnson is just a figurehead, front-man concerns me. That they took on so much salary for players with uncertain futures (Crawford & Beckett) concerns me. Now, it may all turn out fine, but I have concerns.
It doesn’t mean that I am not going to root for the Dodgers or like them less, but I have seen companies with deep pockets make blunder after blunder. In my industry (water treatment), the industry leader (Culligan) has filed bankruptcy multiple times. Money buys a lot, but not everything. Sometimes, its’ a bad thing.
Stan Kasten seems to be the right man for the job and the Dodgers are not just putting lipstick on a pig – they are re-building the foundation, the stadium, the players, the staff, the Brand. Let’s hope it all goes according to plan. The best plan is that Hanley Ramirez asks the Dodgers to play 3B and has an MVP-Type year, that Carl Crawford returns to his glory days and hits .320 and that Josh Beckett will win 18 games. I can’t really see it all happening, but I hope I am dead wrong!
Guggenheim Partners is an unusual financial services company specializing in hedge funds, wealth management, securities, insurance, investment banking, capital markets and other financial areas. Since 2009, they have been diversifying by buying the Dodgers and Dick Clark Productions. Recently, they have acquired a majority stake in King Tech International Limited, a leading asphalt rubber specialist in The People’s Republic of China. They are unusual indeed – this is uncharted ground – let’s hope they blaze a trail and leave a good legacy. I really hope it happens, but I have my doubts. Time is the only thing that will tell the tale…
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