Sunday, January 15, 2012

True Blue

Good news, Dodgers fans. In an attempt to lift the dark clouds that
have recently enveloped the franchise I have a plan that will bring about a new golden age for the storied team.

I intend to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I reached this decision after noting that almost everyone but me wants to own the team which is currently for sale. Being no dummy, I decided if a whole bunch of really rich people think it’s a good idea to own the Dodgers, maybe I should join
the fun.

I have a plan.

I promise an end to cold hot dogs and warm beer. I promise to reduce the number of advertisements that currently tattoo every inch of the stadium. I will also eliminate kiss cams, dance cams and obnoxious kid cams. This is a ball game, not You Tube.

I will build enough concession stands and hire enough people to run
them so that fans won’t miss three innings of a game trying to get an
order of nachos.

I won’t charge more for parking than your car is worth.

I will obtain a third baseman, a left fielder, a catcher and relief
pitchers, none of whom are at the beginning or end of their careers.

I will build a statue of Vin Scully at the entrance to the stadium.

This I swear. But first, there are several obstacles I need to

First, I'm a bit short on experience. Actually, my only experience is
managing a T-ball team for 6-year-olds and playing in a few softball
leagues . But, hey, a hit is a hit and a run is a run. How complicated can it be?

In addition, I understand that a Dodger owner is the curator of a
civic treasure which immediately lifts me head and shoulders above the
buffoons who have mishandled the franchise since 1998 when Peter
O'Malley cashed out.

Second, it appears that I will need somewhere in the vicinity of a
billion dollars. First I thought I might ask for donations from my
readers. But that would probably fall short of the price for a Happy

Then it occurred to me: You don't need a billion dollars to buy a
franchise. In fact, you don't need any money at all. The only
requirement is cunning and guile. And maybe a little larceny in your

Frank McCourt's purchase of the Dodgers was mostly a no-money down
transaction, financed with debt. An IOU if you will. After running
the franchise into the ground by using its assets to gild his personal lily, he
filed for bankruptcy. Major League Baseball accused McCourt of “looting” the team of $189 million.

Now, he has the team up for sale for north of a billion dollars. Most
people think he’ll get it.

Even after paying off his loans, his ex-wife and a few hundred
lawyers, he'll pocket a nice chunk of change. And you were worried
that Frank would be reduced to be selling bags of oranges on freeway

Third, I’ll have to overcome the competition.

There are some noble and good men involved in the bidding: Peter
O’Malley, Fred Claire, Magic Johnson, Joe Torre. All would restore
the good name of the Dodgers.

There are a few sketchy ones as well.

For example, Mark Cuban, whose boorish behavior as an NBA franchise
owner, has cost him hundreds of thousands in fines. I can’t wait to
see the first time he comes charging out of the stands to argue a
third-strike call with the umps. It would be like having Milton
Bradley in charge. Let’s go for an owner with a little dignity for a

Then there’s Thomas J. Barrack, a billionaire real estate investor
and founder of Colony Capital, located in Santa Monica. There are a
few things on his resume that set off alarm bells. He once worked
for Herbert W. Kalmbach, President Richard Nixon's personal lawyer
(ring!). He also once worked for Saudi princes and helped open
diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Haiti, then ruled by
Jean-Claude Duvalier (ring!). He owns the Neverland Ranch (ring!).
In the summer, he lives in a castle in the South of France. (ring!).

Bill Burke, a businessman who founded the L.A. Marathon, allegedly offered McCourt $1.2 billion last August. According to a story in the L.A. Times, the bid was largely bankrolled by Chinese investors. The Dodgers in the hands of Communists? Really?

Also bidding is Steven Cohen, a hedge fund billionaire who in an act
of supreme confidence, has already hired an architect to redesign
Dodger Stadium. The Securities and Exchange Commission is
investigating his firm, SAC Capital Advisors, as part of the
government’s broad crackdown on insider trading. Although Cohen
himself has not been targeted, Major League Baseball remains leery of
Wall Street after Bernie Madoff fleeced the owners of the Mets.

Somewhere in between are the likes of:

Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey, two former Dodger stars;

A group headed by former agent and current Chicago White Sox special
assistant Dennis Gilbert, talk show host Larry King and Jason Reese
of Imperial Capital;

The family of the late Roy Disney partnered with Stanley Gold, who
runs the family investment firm.

Probably a dozen other potential buyers who are keeping it quiet.

As for me, I’ll approach the Dodger sweepstakes as though I was
buying a used car. I’ll walk around a bit, kick the tires then make
a low-ball offer.

If I succeed, you’re all invited to sit in the owner’s box with me.
If not, see you in the bleachers.

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