Much to discuss on this wonderful Wednesday…
We’ve had a lot of great discussion in the comments over the last few days about the ownership process, as you’d expect, and one of the main topics has been whether the Magic Johnson group really has the funding to compete with Steven Cohen. Despite submitting an initial bid approximately $200m higher than Cohen’s, the Johnson group bid did not have nearly the amount of immediate equity that Cohen’s did. (As I’ve mentioned, while we all hate to hear the word “debt” associated with any of this after Frank McCourt, it’s simply not reasonable to expect someone to have $1.5 billion in a check simply ready to hand over. No one buys a house without some sort of mortgage or bank load; this is just a really, really, really expensive house. That said, MLB does need to make sure that whomever purchases the club has the right ratio of debt, which is in large part what brought down McCourt. Well, that and the fact that he’s a greedy scumbag.)
There’s a new angle to that conversation today, because Bill Shaikin tells us that the Johnson group has signed on some additional financial muscle:
Peter Guber, the co-owner of the Golden State Warriors and a veteran Hollywood executive, has joined the Dodgers bid group led by Magic Johnson.
Guber would be a minority investor in the group. Johnson is an investor in the Dayton Dragons, one of several minor league baseball franchises owned and operated by Guber’s Mandalay Sports. The Dragons have sold out 844 consecutive games, an ongoing record for a North American professional sports franchise.
Guber and Johnson also have been partners in the entertainment business. When he was chief executive at Sony Entertainment, Guber helped Johnson launch his chain of movie theaters.
While I can’t say I’d heard of Guber before (though he apparently has tried to buy into the Dodgers, Athletics, Ducks, and Sharks previously), I do like the fact that he and Johnson have worked together successfully in the past; there’s always something awkward in these processes about seeing two (or more) immensely wealthy people thrown together to try to create a working relationship. Mandalay Sports & Entertainment actually owns or operates several minor-league clubs aside from the Dragons, and he’s very active on Twitter, which is nice; on the other hand, he is listed as a producer for the execrable “Caddyshack II”, which should be enough to get him sentenced to a Ukrainian labor camp right next to McCourt. At least, it would if that was a movie that actually existed, which, around these parts at least, IT DOES NOT.
So while adding Guber still isn’t going to allow them to match Cohen dollar-for-dollar, it’s another powerful player. (And while we’re talking about Johnson, here’s a good Q&A session with Stan Kasten from when he took over the Nationals in 2006; thanks to Chase for the link.)
Still, I can’t help but wondering: where is Patrick Soon-Shiong?
MLB has released details on its new social media policy, and it’s surprisingly progressive. The Dodgers have noted tweeters in Matt Kemp & Dee Gordon, among others, so any crackdown could affect this club more than most. (Here I’ll note that when the new site goes up in about two weeks or so, one of the features will be a full Twitter database of Dodger teams, players & media. By my count, there’s
31 (33!) players that I know of throughout the organization who are on Twitter. I follow 30 (32!) of them. Bet you can guess who the outlier is.)
Craig Calcaterra at NBC’s Hardball Talk has more, including this snippet from the policy itself.
While having a Social Media policy is important to protecting the interests of everyone involved in promoting the game, we hope that you will not view this policy as a blanket deterrent to engaging in social media. MLB recognizes the importance of social media as an important way for players to communicate directly with fans. We encourage you to connect with fans through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Along with MLB’s extensive social media activities, we hope that your efforts on social media will help bring fans closer to the game and have them engaged with baseball, your club and you in a meaningful way.
In this litigious era, where public figures say stupid things (and occasionally ruin lives) on social media every day, it’s really good to see the often-stodgy league realize the value of social media and actually encourage their players to use it. Responsibly, of course.
Another name for the back of the bullpen? We’ve kind of been operating under the assumption that if Josh Lindblom didn’t come away with that last spot, Jamey Wright or John Grabow would. Ken Gurnick throws Fernando Nieve into the mix, suggesting that his 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday (and his total of 5 1/3 one-run innings) makes him a name to watch. I remember vaguely liking Nieve when he was on the Astros and Mets before spending last year in Korea, though now that I look at his stat line, I cannot for the life of me recall why. Still, we’re talking about him here not because one nice outing in spring should have any impact on a position battle, but so I can use this absolutely money quote that Gurnick pulled from Don Mattingly:
“Nieve is a little more of a power guy out of the ‘pen. He reminds me of Ramon Ortiz,” said manager Don Mattingly. “His stuff is good and he’s durable. That’s what we need in that role.”
Another Ramon Ortiz? I don’t think that’s what anyone needs.
Here’s the lineup for tonight’s game with Clayton Kershaw on the hill against a split-squad Cincinnati club. Sadly, the game will not be televised. Then again, take a look at the lineup that’s being sent out there, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing…