Are New Look Los Angeles Dodgers the Lakers of Baseball?
Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
With the all-but signed, sealed and delivered acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, the new-look Los Angeles Dodgers are being called the Yankees of the West.
But, they are more like the Los Angeles Lakers of baseball.
Taking a page from the marketing and legacy-building page of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, the assertive management combo of Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson want to win big, and they want to win now.
It was one thing to grab Hanley Ramirez from the floundering Florida Marlins, it is quite another to bring aboard Gonzalez, who may be the best all-around first baseman this side of Albert Pujols.
It remains to be seen whether Beckett can regain his winning ways and the oft-injured Crawford can get back on the field on a regular basis, bringing with him virtually unmatched power and speed in the form of an adequate left fielder.
Yet, this gargantuan move was not so much about winning as it was about marketing, something Magic assuredly learned from his days as a Laker, and then as a successful businessman.
When people think of the Los Angeles Lakers, they think of mega-stars like Magic, Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, Wilt, West, Baylor and now, Dwight.
Los Angeles is a place of glitz where quality is often defined by quantity. These new Dodgers will have plenty of stars with big personal numbers as well as big bank accounts.
Even if they don't win, which is highly unlikely with a middle lineup of Kemp, Ramirez, Gonzalez and Ethier, they will be an amazing drawing card.
When you think of the Lakers, you also think of Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, Dyan Cannon and the multitude of Hollywood stars and starlets who line the courtside seats at every game.
That is what they want in Dodger Stadium...stars in the seats and stars on the field.
Los Angeles thrives on star power, something the Dodgers have been missing for years. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are wonderful players—two of the best at their position—but with Gonzalez, Ramirez, Crawford and Beckett now on the roster, the team possesses unmatched All-Star glamour.
Other teams may hate them, but they will love how their fans come to watch them play.
It takes money to make money, and the Dodgers have not been shy about showing they are willing to spend in order to win and please their fans.
Just a year ago, beaten down by the evil Frank McCourt, Dodger fans had forsaken their team, protesting the owner and giving up season tickets that had been family heirlooms for decades.
It is obvious that Magic and Kasten not only understand what it takes to build a better team but, since baseball is a business, what it takes to put people back in the stands.
Los Angeles is a heavily Hispanic community, and the bilingual Gonzalez is known for his community outreach as well as his big bat. He will single-handedly attract Spanish-speaking crowds the way Fernando Valenzuela did in the '80s.
Say what you will about the Yankees and their bloated budget, they know the value of their brand and the importance of a great product. In baseball, that means having a combination of star power and a winning record.
It has been 24 long years since the Dodgers went to the World Series. Their brand had been diminished and their fans had been beaten down. Second had been looking good to them.
The new management team looked great on paper and sounded better, but no one could have expected this type of commitment to spending and to building the team back to its heyday so quickly and so powerfully.
Will the team gel fast enough to beat the ever-present, ever-rising San Francisco Giants?
At the very least, these Dodgers will be more than able to compete with their archrivals from the North,and the next few weeks could bring some of the best baseball and the best competition Los Angeles has seen in a very, very long while.
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