What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Anybody who has read this blog know how I feel about the Los Angeles Dodgers; if not you may want to check my original treatise on the subject before reading any further here; you may find having the additional perspective helpful.
What has happened to this franchise really should be a crime. If there were a way to make the combination of ego and stupidity illegal, Frank McCourt’s ownership of the Dodgers would be the case which got that law passed. Understand that as much as I hate the Dodgers, that hatred is all about what happens on the field. What has happened in this case is so incredibly beyond that it boggles the mind.
First there is the destruction of the franchise. In seven years, McCourt has managed to turn a cornerstone franchise into one needing the league’s recievership. If you aren’t familiar with the Dodgers, you may not understand the scale of what that means. I am old enough to where I can remember the Dodgers under the ownership of Walter O’Malley, the man who brought them to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1957. Like him or not, O’Malley ran the Dodgers like a family business, and always made sure that Dodger Stadium was a family-friendly place. Let’s take that piece by piece – under O’Malley, the Dodgers were the model of stability. For their first forty seasons in Los Angeles, the Dodgers had exactly two managers. In its seventh year, the McCourt regime is on its fourth. In nearly fifty years of owning the Dodgers, the O’Malleys fired two managers. In its seventh year, the McCourt regime has fired as many, and would have likely fired Joe Torre had he not retired. The Dodgers won five World Series titles in Los Angeles under the ownership of the O”Malleys; they’ve only managed four pretty weak post-season showings since…at least McCourt kept some traditions alive.
One great Dodger tradition that continues is only ever have three guys who can hit. Better yet, for some reason, one of these guys must be a first baseman who is a “great Dodger hitter,” meaning he might hit .300, but he’s not going to hit 20 homers or drive in 100 runs. Enter James Loney. So, watching the Dodgers means watching six guys trying to get a walk, get hit, get anything that gets you on base without actually having to swing the bat. Naturally, this is just stalling, hoping to bring one of the aforementioned three to the plate.
So, under McCourt, the quality of the product on the field has declined, but at least they made up for that by improving the fan experience at the ball park, right? After all, when McCourt bought the team from Fox in 2004, he promised a title and a better fan experience. Uh, I’m not feeling it, Frank.
Now you may ask, why bother with a team that can only manage to beat the hapless NL West, then crumple the minute it faces a real playoff team? Because, they are the Dodgers, which means they should have scorn and derision heaped upon them at every opportunity. Specifically, they do exceptionally cheap-assholish Dodger-type things, like charging you $10 for a watered-down beer, $5.50 for a questionably sanitary Dodger Dog, and $3 when one of those two has it’s predicted effect.
Since the dawn of Dodger Stadium, Dodger fans have been known to have wait in long lines to make a Dodger Dookie. Of course, this is the result of a classic Dodger cost-cutting move, building a 56,000-seat stadium with enough bathroom for about half that many. Seriously, the traffic going into and out of the men’s room can rival the Santa Monica Freeway. While the Dodgers can’t do much about individual bladder control (otherwise they would have done something about Tommy Lasorda years ago), they did come up with a Dodger-type plan.
Since building a couple of bathrooms would have been far too sensible, the Dodgers invented the BAT…that stands for Bathroom Attendant Team. Let that soak in for a moment.
The beauty of this is the fact that to keep the bathroom attendants, the Dodgers got rid of the parking lot attendants, because there was really no need to have any sort of security outside of the stadium, right? Bryan Stow would disagree, if he weren’t in a fucking coma. The sad part is that what happened to Stow is the end result of an owner who treated the franchise as little more than a cash machine; McCourt at the same time looked to squeeze every nickel he could out of his investment while blowing through the Dodgers’ money for his own personal gain; the guy sells ad space on the beer cups, charges you $3 to pee, doubled the fees for parking while eliminating security, and would be selling as much cheap beer as he could if the Stow incident hadn’t happened, and is still anywhere between $500 and $800 million in deb.
Then, there is the fact he destroyed a cornerstone franchise. This isn’t some expansion team in a crap stadium which couldn’t draw fans if you gave it a fully-automated, nuclear-powered fan-attracting machine. This is one of the original old-school franchises in the history of the game. McCourt took such a franchise in the second-largest city in America; a franchise which would be easily worth north of $800 million dollars if it didn’t have a now-distressed owner, and essentially turned it into the Kansas City Royals.
A popular opinion is that Brian Stow incident was for Commissioner Bud Selig “the straw that broke the camel’s back;” but truth be told, this catastrophe has been years in the making.The seeds were sown when this team was sold to McCourt, who was a smooth talking real estate developer from Boston who didn’t have the scratch up front to purchase the team. Then he made his wife the CEO of the team, insuring the team would be community property regardless of any pre-nuptial agreement they may have had. Then he fired her when the marriage hit the skids, guaranteeing their would not only be a fight for control, but during that fight there would be a complete lack of leadership. Then the divorce proceedings and McCourt’s refusal to sell the team introduced the economic paralysis which prompted the intervention by the Commissioner.
It was clear something had to change last year when Dodger GM Ned Colletti (who still wears his NL Championship Ring he got while with the Dodgers main rival San Francisco in 2002) literally had to shop the “scratch and dent” rack for help in the 2010 pennant race. Of course, this failed, and it had to stick wrong in sensitive parts of Dodger fans’ collective anatomy to watch that hated rival go on to win the World Series after adding Pat Burrell and Cody Ross. The worst part for Dodger fans has to be the realization that so many of them hailed McCourt as a savior from the evil Fox Empire which had bought the team from Peter O’Malley in 1998; much like the Russian peasants feted the invading Germans as their saviors from Stalin in 1941.
Frankly, citizens of Dodgertown, it is time to go from “Think Blue” to “Think New” – it is time to use this low point in Dodger history as an opportunity for a rebirth. Honestly, I hope you all can make that work, because it really is no fun hating a team which is now so incredibly pathetic.