Now that the Wicked Witch of the East, better known as Frank McCourt, is dead and gone, the new Los Angeles Dodgers management has an opportunity to bring back the scores of fans who deserted the franchise during that blighted reign.
This apparently kinder, gentler group may be able to cast a spell of prosperity and rainbow-filled days that fans will appreciate for many years to come.
But, magic does not come without a price, and the Dodger management must use the upcoming trade deadline to win over and win back its fans, many of whom remain skeptical about the future of their team.
The Dodgers have a renewed life, leading the Major League in winning percentage for a good part of the year. Their success eerily coincided with the coming of the new management.
Led by wizened baseball man Stan Kasten, President of the team, the Dodgers are faced with an odd opportunity. They, their fans and the baseball world have been startled by their success.
"We could not have predicted we would have the best record in baseball, much less with the loss of the best player in baseball," Kasten told the Los Angeles Times, "and the left fielder, and the third baseman, and the second baseman, and one of our starters.
"It's just a wonderful phenomenon. I can't give you a more scientific explanation. But we are not taking it for granted. We have now been presented with a wonderful opportunity. We will go for it."
On paper, the Dodgers look like a team with three stars and a bucket full of misfits and wannabes, maybe a .500 team at best.
The Dodger fans are traditionally among the most loyal in baseball, but last year the Dodgers saw a drop in attendance by 18 percent as fans protested against the McCourt mismanagement. The fans had lost faith. They were disgusted and dismayed by what they saw as greed and lack of concern for their beloved team.
But, everyone loves a winner. As of today, they are ranked sixth in attendance as the fans have returned in droves.
So, are they also sold on the new management?
OK, their favorite local hyphenate basketball superstar-entrepreneur-sports announcer-baseball team co-owner Magic Johnson is part of the new ownership, and it is at least fun to have the smiling hall of famer be a frontman for the Dodgers.
But this Magic does not win baseball games.
The fans want to know what the new guys are going to do to sustain the Dodger winning season. Are they going to replace that woeful Juan Uribe at third base, please? Are they really looking to sign Carlos Gonzalez and add him to what would be the best outfield in baseball by far? What about pitching? Can they really snag Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels?
Kasten must understand how important it would be to make some of these big moves not only to sustain the winning season but invigorate the fan base.
That is the real opportunity for the new management team. Imagine if this new management team were in place last year at this time. The Dodgers first baseman could have been Prince Fielder.
The Dodgers fans want to see that kind of move. No more lousy Uribe-style signings. This is Hollywood, and they want great players with star quality.
Before the deadline comes, the new management has to stop talking and deliver. Then and only then will the fans be happy.
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