According to the Associated Press, commissioner Bud Selig has given his full endorsement for the O’Malley family to return to baseball.
Of course Selig also endorsed Frank McCourt buying the Dodgers in 2004.
The O’Malleys brought to Southern California one of baseball's marquee franchises, which would win a World Series title in just its second year out west. The family oversaw the most stable organization in baseball. In their first 38 years in Los Angeles, the Dodgers had two managers and a fertile farm system that produced Hall of Famers, Rookies of the Year, MVPs and Cy Young winners at a terrific clip.
And they made thirteen postseason appearances, winning nine pennants and five World Series.
Granted, they also had that success in the second-biggest market in the country. If the O’Malleys hope to have even a fraction of that success in San Diego, they will have to do so by appealing to one of the game's truly microscopic fanbases.
That is not intended as a slight to those many passionate Padre fans. But the team simply does not have a gigantic revenue pool: to the east of San Diego is a desert. To the north is Los Angeles and Orange County. To the south is Mexico. To the west is the Pacific Ocean.
And yet FOX Sports San Diego has agreed to a $1.4 billion television deal to broadcast the Padres for the next twenty years. And $200 million of that is an upfront payment to current Padres owner John Moores.
As Forbes.com pointed out, Moores is doing exactly what Frank McCourt was not allowed to do: use money from a TV deal for his own personal use. Smart new ownership could use that television money—and perhaps a little bit more from the payroll tax pool—and turn the Padres around relatively quickly.
If the O’Malleys take over the team, they would give the Padres exactly what they need: stability.
If the Padres front office is allowed to develop players and the manager is in place for the long haul (as the Dodgers had for so long) then San Diego could be treated to a championship organization.
And if maintaining that success is contingent on income, then the new television deal could provide just that. And the O'Malleys would not need to spend that on their own personal debts. The O'Malleys are not the Moores—nor the McCourts for that matter.
Maybe this is why Selig is endorsing their bid.