Los Angeles Dodgers: Why a Billionaire Owner Would Be a Mistake

Vance PennCorrespondent INovember 4, 2011

If you believe what you read in the press or see on television, the next owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers will be a billionaire. But, in fact, that would likely be a mistake when you consider other billionaire team owners success.

Before you light your torches and grab your pitchforks, give a listen.

Of MLB's current 30 teams only eight are owned by billionaires, and two of those are part of a group. Just because you have a vault full of cash, and have a propensity for spending it, doesn't mean that your team will be successful. Here are the eight members of the "Baseball Billionaires".

1 - Hiroshi Yamaushi, Seattle Mariners, owns the team through Nintendo and doesn't take part in the day-to-day operations of the team. He leaves those duties to GM Howard Lincoln. Judging by Seattle's frustrations every year it's not working.

2 - John Malone, Atlanta Braves, again owns the team through his company, Liberty Media. Again, Mr. Malone doesn't take part in the day-to-day operation of the team. Atlanta always seems to be a contender but their division is tough.

3 - Ted Lerner, Washington Nationals, who opened his wallet, to the tune of $140 million last year, hasn't seen that spending turn into success...yet. Maybe he needs to spend more money?

4 - Mike Illitch, Detroit Tigers, is the only one of the "BB's" to experience any real level of success. The Tigers have won one World Series, played in another, and are regular contenders in the American League Central.

5 - Drayton McLean, Houston Astros, is looking for a way out of the baseball business. His free agent spending has not turned into baseball success. The Astros did finally appear in a World Series but have been fair to middling besides that season.


6 - John Fisher, Oakland A's, leaves the running of the team to co-owner to Bud Selig's fraternity brother, Lew Wolfe. The team has been in contention in the American League West but typically falls short.

7 - Ray Davis, Texas Rangers, again leaves the day-to-day operation of the team to an expert, one Nolan Ryan. To date it would be hard to argue with the success the team has had to this point. Two years in ownership, two World Series appearances.

8 - Arturo Moreno - Los Angeles Angels, who wants a winner, he really, really does. But to date has fallen short in what could be called the "Billionaires Division" the American League West.

Here are the billionaire names that are most often mentioned in connection with the Dodgers, and reasons why their path to ownership may be difficult or impossible. 

Mark Cuban, his biggest problem will be getting approved to even be an owner, has said he isn't that interested in going through another bidding process. Cuban has failed in two previous attempts to buy a team through the bankruptcy auction route, losing out on both the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers. But even then Cuban was not approved as a managing partner by MLB.

Donald Trump, has said that he isn't interested in buying anything other than a controlling interest in any team having already had the opportunity to buy a minority stake in the New York Mets earlier this year.

Ron Burkle, who is a California resident and already part of the ownership group of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. Likely a good fit in an ownership group with Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser.


Bill Burke, even if Burke offered $50 million for the Dodgers the liklihood of MLB owners approving him as an owner is less than Mark Cuban's because his bid would be tied to a majority Chinese ownership.

Baseball is a complicated business that is best handled through a corporate structure where experts in specific areas can be relied upon to make business based decisions. A recipe for disaster would be for someone like a Mark Cuban, as much as I think he's been great for the NBA, to buy the Dodgers and insert his ownership methods. Baseball isn't basketball, too many moving parts. As part of an ownership group, yes, but individually, no.

The days of ego-based ownership is over in the big money world of baseball. The days of owners and crazy self-promotion are also long gone. I don't think, or suggest, that going back to the days of FOX or Disney owning teams is the answer. But, sorry, a billionaire owner is not the answer for the Dodgers.