There’s so much news today that the fact that the Dodgers won 6-4 over Pittsburgh in today’s rare one-game stop almost seems like an afterthought. Okay, I suppose it wasn’t for Dana Eveland, who allowed just one run over eight innings in his first major-league appearance in over a year. (As rain clouds loomed before the game, threatening to rain out a rain out, I briefly pondered whether Eveland would lose his chance to be a Dodger at all this season.) Eveland wasn’t what you’d call dominating, striking out just three, but whenever you can avoid a single walk and keep the ball in the park against a lowly offense like Pittsburgh’s, you’re going to have a good shot at success. (And whenever you’re inserted into the ninth inning of a 6-1 game, Blake Hawksworth, it helps to not allow a hit and a dinger in your two batters.)
On the offensive side, the Dodgers essentially put the game away in the top of the first, as singles by Dee Gordon (in his first game back off the disabled list), Matt Kemp, & Andre Ethier, along with a sacrifice fly from Tony Gwynn, put them up 3-0 before the Pirates came to bat. James Loney, continuing his hot streak with two more hits, would add the fourth run when he came home on a Ryan Doumit passed ball in the seventh inning. That was followed by Dee Gordon doubling in two more in the eighth after Chris Resop somehow walked Eveland to load the bases, which I think is grounds for deportation. Along with Loney, A.J. Ellis, Gordon, and Kemp each had two hits; for Kemp, that came along with his 35th stolen base of the year as we watch to see if he can somehow get to 40/40 on the season, which may just be the only way he can grab that National League MVP award from a losing team.
Of course, the game wasn’t even close to being the biggest news of the day… and you know I’m talking about Casey Blake‘s decision to have neck surgery to resolve the pinched nerve which has plagued him for weeks. I suggested this was inevitable weeks ago, though that was mostly for roster purposes at the time; now, it’s a disappointing end to one of the more popular Dodgers we’ve seen in recent years. As I mentioned in the piece linked, Blake was by most measures one of the better third basemen in the club’s history, in addition to his reputation as an excellent person. The miniscule chance that the Dodgers were going to exercise his $6m option for 2012 is now all but officially zero, and it remains to be seen whether his baseball career will end alongside his Dodger career. He will be missed.
…and then there’s the news that set hearts aflutter, as Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reported that Frank McCourt had received a $1.2 billion – yes, with a b, and yes, you do need to read that in a Dr. Evil voice – for the team from a group headed by Bill Burke and Chinese investors.
It’s hard to ignore that dollar figure, since it completely destroys the previous record sale price of $845m for the Cubs several years ago, and since not even Frank McCourt could thumb his nose at that much money. It’s also hard to think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of this happening:
The bid terms proposed by the Burke group call for an all-cash payment to buy the Dodgers, all real estate related to the team and the team’s media rights, according to the letter. Attorneys for McCourt have said he could try to keep Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots even if he sold the team.
The bid would expire in 21 days, according to the letter, with the goal of closing a deal within 90 days, subject to the approvals of the bankruptcy court and Major League Baseball.
The letter did not specify who would finance the Burke bid, other than to say the money would come from “certain state-owned investment institutions of the People’s Republic of China” as well as unidentified American investors. Foreign investment is not necessarily an obstacle to MLB ownership; the Seattle Mariners’ ownership group includes a significant Japanese presence.
So let’s get this straight: a bid with a short timeframe, coming from “state-owned investment institutions” in China? Oh sure, nothing shady about that. (Shaikin added on Twitter that MLB is “skeptical” of the offer, with more detail to come.) Though the Shaikin column references Seattle and their Japanese ownership, that’s a little different, since the M’s are owned by the public company Nintendo, and not an unknown “state-owned” source. (That said, the wealth of Communism jokes to be made as applied to baseball would be endless.) Either way, foreign sports owners – not just coming into America, but also Americans owning teams elsewhere, such as in European soccer – never seem to work out well. Until we know more, this is a great example of not just rooting for any sale, we need to be rooting for the right sale.