I awoke this morning to the news that pigs were flying, hell had frozen over, and that, apparently, after a month of Sundays, the apocalypse was upon us.
For those raised on the steady stewardship the O’Malley family provided the storied Los Angeles Dodgers for over 40 years, news this morning of the team's bankruptcy was like a sucker punch.
This is a franchise that was once one of the most valued in sports.
And the most innovative.
Baseball farm system? Developed by the Dodgers.
First black baseball player? A Dodger.
West coast baseball? Pioneered by the Dodgers.
Tiered stadium design so all fans had open sight lines with no columns? Yep, that too came from the Dodgers.
Campanella, Snider, Reese, Koufax, Drysdale, Garvey, Orel, Fernando, and of course, Jackie Robinson.
Mike Piazza might have made that list, but after O’Malley sold the team, the new owners did not think he was worth keeping around.
We have been assured in press releases from the current owners today that there will be "no disruption to the Dodgers' day-to-day business, the baseball team or to the Dodger fans."
What the current owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt, fail to understand is that their ownership constitutes a disruption of the Dodgers baseball team and is itself a continuing nuisance to the fans.
From the moment the political leadership of Los Angeles rebuffed Peter O’Malley’s offer to build an NFL Stadium on Dodger property and bring football back to LA, we were doomed.
O’Malley saw the writing on the wall. Understanding that it was becoming increasingly hard for a family to make money with baseball as its sole business, he thought he would use his own money and build a brand-spanking-new, state-of-the-art football stadium in LA.
Los Angeles politicians, however, were still wedded to the aging Coliseum downtown and told him to back off—they had it handled.
Strike one, and O’Malley sold the team to Rupert Murdoch, head of FOX Broadcasting.
Soon after taking over, FOX axed the famous grilled Dodger Dog and then handed future Hall of Famer and fan favorite Mike Piazza his walking papers.
Murdoch then sold the team to longtime Boston residents Frank and Jamie McCourt, who learned nothing from Murdoch about respecting local legends and fired broadcaster Ross Porter—a Los Angeles sports institution—almost before the ink dried on the contract.
Now, I can understand that it is your team and you should have the right to hire and fire whomever you want, but when you choose to whack a loyal, 28-year employee, don’t you think a personal call might be in order?
The McCourts let Porter know he was being let go after 28 years by leaving a message on his answering machine!
It was called third strike in the heart of the fans.
And that was before we knew the lovely duo of Frank and Jamie had leveraged the team finances in a single-handed bid to save the Los Angeles real estate market.
Today the Los Angeles Dodgers are bankrupt.
I hope the judge that settles this understands that this bankruptcy extends well beyond the finances of the Dodgers. I hope he understands that it reaches into the very soul of this once-great Los Angeles institution.
Like Murdoch before, the McCourts have failed.
Let’s hope there is indeed some disruption in the “day to day operation” of the Dodgers, because since the O’Malley family sold the team, that operation has struck out.
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