At some point in the next 24 hours, we’re going to hear the news that the Guggenheim Partners group headed by Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, & Mark Walter has officially taken control of the Dodgers from Frank McCourt, ending a reign of just over eight years which featured a few highs and some unbelievably embarrassing lows. It’s a day many of us thought we’d never see just a year ago, when we were still playing the bi-weekly game of “how is Frank going to screw the future in order to make payroll this time around?”
There’s still a lot of questions to be answered about the new owners, particularly in exactly how the ridiculous $2.15b winning bid is truly funded and in how they’ll handle their parking lot partnership with McCourt. If those questions aren’t answered quickly and satisfactorily, then you can bet that we’ll be all over them trying to figure out just what the true story is and if we should really be looking upon then more favorably than the monsters who just left.
But that’s not a “today” thing. Today is about being hopeful for a potentially bright future and for changes which may come, and that doesn’t necessarily mean on-the-field changes; the team is doing very well so far, and other than sending Adam Kennedy on an all-expenses-paid trip to the finest Siberian resort money can buy, there’s not a whole lot that can be done via trade or free agency in early May anyway. It also doesn’t even mean front office changes, because for all of my noted distaste for the job Ned Colletti has done as GM, now is not the time to come in and rock that boat.
We haven’t heard a whole lot publicly from this group since the announcement that they had one, and that’s not surprising; despite the fact that they’ve been referred to as “the new owners” for over a month now, they won’t be officially so until the paperwork is finalized today. Now that they’re able, what they can – and should, and perhaps even must – do immediately is reach out to the fans within the next 24 hours and let them know that things are going to be different. Maybe that’s a grand gesture like pulling a page from Arte Moreno’s playbook by immediately lowering beer prices or parking fees, or letting all fans 10 and under in for free for the duration of the season; maybe it’s something simpler like making players more available or loosening restrictions on moving seats in late innings. The specifics of it may almost be irrelevant as long as it’s something; as long as fans can see that this new group is committed to more than just making a profit on their huge investment (even if that’s not entirely true), it’ll go a long, long way towards winning back the thousands who abandoned the franchise in the dark days of the McCourt era.
It’s been 3,015 days since McCourt bought this team in January of 2004. None of us can say how long the incoming ownership will hang onto them, but I can say this: no matter how long they do, it’s quite possible that no day is more important than the first. Do it right, Magic & Stan & Mark, et al. This is an opportunity you won’t have again.