Like many people in Los Angeles, and maybe even around the country, I tuned in to ESPN AM 710 this morning to listen to the introduction of the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Guggenheim Baseball Management team.
Magic Johnson, Mark Walter and Stan Kasten stood on a stage in center field at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday and promised to restore the Dodgers' tradition of winning and pride. It sure does feel like Christmas morning here in Los Angeles.
The Lakers and Clippers are doing their thing, the Los Angeles Kings are shocking the NHL world, and now the Dodgers enter a new era.
I felt great affection for the Dodgers growing up. Sure, I wasn't the biggest baseball fan and wasn't running around bleeding Dodger blue like I was Laker purple and gold, but a part of me did feel some genuine connection with the team. Perhaps it was because of their throwback uniforms, or constantly hearing about their role in integrating baseball or even Vin Scully, whose voice and rhetoric never cease to amaze me.
Today, weather-wise, was cloudy in LA, but Scully reminded us that an old Irishman would describe it as a "soft" day. Even with the most mundane topics (like weather), he's able not only to grab attention, but does so with grace.
Here in LA, we have been blessed with some of the greatest voices in the history of broadcasting honoring us with their commentary and analysis. "I used to have the sweetest voice in basketball, Chick Hearn, calling my games. Now I have the sweetest voice in baseball, Vin Scully," Magic Johnson said today.
I would be lying if I said that The Sandlot didn't have something to do with it, with the Dodgers being the team Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez loved and played for. More than likely it's a combination of all those things, but I really can’t be too sure.
All I know is that when I moved to Los Angeles in 1996, and my cousin gave me a mini baseball bat with the Dodgers logo on it, a part of my sports allegiance was happily handed over in return.
In recent years, things haven't been smooth sailing for Dodger players, management or fans.
I enjoyed the Manny Ramirez stint, even though many seemed to have a distaste for him. It was entertaining, maybe not in the best of ways, but we all knew the team wasn't moving towards success any time soon. (By success, I don't just mean sneaking into the postseason, but actually going back to the real winning ways of the Dodgers.)
Then the Frank McCourt divorce started, revealing all the horrible things McCourt had done to the club, and fans knew they just could not give their heart to the Dodgers.
I mean, come on—he supposedly looted upwards of $190 million from Dodgers equity so he could live his lavish lifestyle. That's just horrible. Some fans still kept attending games, most likely because Chavez Ravine is absolutely beautiful, but the team lost plenty of support and passion from its fans and its city.
But let us rejoice, for all of that is in the past—and the future has never looked brighter.
The selling price of the team and stadium was finalized at $2 billion dollars, plus $300 million for the surrounding land and parking lots. Including the $150 million worth of land contributed by McCourt, the selling price was just short of $2 billion in appreciation in eight years.
Walter will serve as the CEO of Guggenheim Partners, Kasten will be the president and CEO, and Magic Johnson will have more a public role. The new owners already lowered parking from $15 to $10!
We know that in baseball success doesn't happen overnight, and certain things need to fall into place for goals to be achieved. From this morning's press conference, I think there is one thing we can all agree on—these guys are in it for the right reasons.
They care about the welfare of the team, want to see it do well and are prepared to do anything to make that happen.
“Believe this, we’re going to win again!” The enthusiasm and passion oozed from Magic's voice this morning, and hearing that the team is pointed in the right direction almost brought a tear to my eyes—passion is contagious.
Los Angeles can rest happy for now, knowing that their Dodgers are in very able hands.