Three years ago, the Dodgers were on the brink of the World Series.
On October 4, 2009, Frank and Jamie McCourt separated, marking the start of a long divorce dispute that would eventually sink the team.
The last few months have been a dark period for one of the most storied franchises in pro sports. In the parking lot after the game on Opening Day, 29-year-old Bryan Stow was viciously attacked by two assailants and left in a coma, all because he was wearing a Giants jersey.
Despite a $150,000 reward for whereabouts of the suspects, it is likely that no one will step up and give information because they would become the next target of a gang-related attack.
Even if Stow wakes up from his coma, he is still suffering from permanent brain damage.
A couple days later, it was discovered that ex-Dodger Manny Ramirez was caught for a second time with a banned substance in his system. Subsequently, he retired rather than face a 100-game suspension.
For over two years, he electrified the city of LA with his potent bat and easygoing personality. The sweet memories we had of Mannywood had now turned to a bitter taste in our mouths. It was nothing, but a cheap joke.
As if things couldn’t get worse, attendance is down 16 percent from last year and season ticket-holders have dropped from 29,000 to 16,000.
Mr. McCourt’s decision to jack up the ticket prices in consecutive years doesn’t make sense to me; why charge the fans more to watch a lousier team?
Mercifully, Major League Baseball has taken control of operations of the Dodgers. It’s sad that a proud franchise rich with history now must be monitored by a representative from the commissioner. But this is the price they must pay for poor ownership.
I’ve recognized that our “co-owners” Frank and his estranged and soon to be ex-wife Jamie McCourt don’t care about the team anymore. To them, it’s more important to sink millions of dollars into their divorce case for lawyer fees and luxurious new homes, among other frivolous expenditures rather than use that money to acquire star players that improve the team.
This team isn’t utterly hopeless. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier head up a solid three-four combo, but it drops off after that. The starting pitching is considered the strength of this team, but the bullpen is inconsistent at times.
McCourt refused to make any big name free-agent splashes this offseason and the end result will show. This is nothing but an average team. If they reach 80 wins, I’d be shocked.
There is potential for this team to be a force in the National League, but they are still a few missing pieces away from making the jump.
I almost want to say that we Dodger fans deserve this middling team because for the most part, this is a laughable fan base with the exception of a few knowledgeable and loyal fans. Go to a game and you’ll see.
Most of them arrive in the third inning, talk and text for most of the game about how much their life sucks because of school or work.
The stadium erupts into thunderous cheers when a routine fly ball is hit. They applaud loudly when the other team perfectly executes a sacrifice bunt. The most critical statement they can come up with is “Giants suck!” or whoever they’re playing.
After stuffing their faces with Dodger Dogs, they’ll leave in the seventh inning to avoid the after-game traffic. I’m not claiming that all fans are like this, but I’d estimate that it’s a 10:1 imbecile to savvy fan ratio.
Still, a large-market team rich in history deserves better than this.
So, what happens from here?
The representative that MLB sent will monitor the financial state of the team for the remainder of the year. It means that you can forget any big-name acquisition at the trade deadline.
The McCourt saga appears to have no end in sight. The lawyers on both sides will draw the case out as long as possible so they can keep collecting fat paychecks from Frank and Jamie. Both agents of Ethier and Kemp have indicated that their clients will sign with other ballclub’s when their contracts run up, unless there is a drastic turnaround.
Coupled with the financial mess that the team is facing, this will devastate the city and doom the Dodgers to an extended period of mediocrity.
The only way the Dodgers can become a title contender is if Frank cuts his financial losses and sells the team.
There is no other solution.