Wednesday Notes: Guber, Tweeting, and Nieve, Oh My

Ethier warms up, via Jon SooHoo's http://dodgersphotog.mlblogs.com/

Much to discuss on this wonderful Wednesday…

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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…

Tony Gwynn (CF),  Mark Ellis (2B),  Adam Kennedy (1B), Jerry Sands (RF), Trent Oeltjen (LF), Juan Uribe (3B), Matt Wallach (DH), A.J. Ellis (C), Justin Sellers (SS).

So that’s what life without Kemp, Gordon, Andre Ethier, James Loney, and Juan Rivera looks like!

Three Weeks Left in the Ownership Race: Cohen, Kroenke, & Magic In the Lead?

For something that is so monumentally important to the future of this franchise, it’s strange to admit that the ownership bidding process seems like it’s almost flying under the radar lately. Frank McCourt has exactly three weeks from today to select his buyer, yet the only news we’ve heard since the Joe Torre & Peter O’Malley groups dropped out in late February was that Michael Heisley & Tony Ressler were joining forces to get back in, pushing the number of groups back up to eight before Jared Kushner’s departure this week dropped it back to seven. Right now, we’re waiting for MLB to complete their vetting process in order to grant approval to final bidders, which is expected to progress this week as groups have in-person interviews with MLB in Phoenix.

Now, we’ve all had our favorites, but what we haven’t heard is any indication of who might be out in front. For the first time, Bill Shaikin drops a hint:

Cohen is widely considered one of three favorites to buy the team, along with St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and a group led by Magic Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten.

Shaikin doesn’t provide any sources or indication why that might be the case, and usually I’d find that sort of thing problematic; however, Shaikin’s reporting on this entire saga has been so rock-solid that he could put out an unsourced report that Miley Cyrus & Snooki were teaming up to buy the club and I’d probably believe it.

If this is true, I find that group of three kind of fascinating, because there’s definitely a “hot, medium, cold” delineation between them. I’ve been pretty apprehensive about Cohen since the first time we talked about him, arguing that a hedge fund guy under investigation from the SEC who’s had his own nightmare divorce which stretched over two decades isn’t exactly the ideal owner to follow up Frank McCourt. Besides, while it doesn’t bother me so much, I know the idea of another East Coast import (a Mets fan and recent buyer of a minority share in the club, Cohen currently lives in Connecticut) who has reportedly never even been to Dodger Stadium won’t sit well with any of us. Of course, it’s not us making the decisions, it’s McCourt, and it’s hard to argue that Cohen isn’t going to have the largest net worth of any bidder (if not necessarily the largest bid).

This morning at Forbes, Mike Ozanian calls Cohen “baseball’s most important man”, arguing that his influx of cash into the Mets and his interest in the Dodgers has to weigh on Bud Selig’s decisions in trying to resuscitate two of his largest and most embarrassing team failures:

The most important man in Major League Baseball right now is Steve Cohen. The hedge fund titan is the man MLB commissioner Bud Selig is genuflecting in front of, praying Cohen will bail him out for permitting the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers and cash-strapped New York Mets to pile insane amounts of debt onto their balance sheets.

Over the past two months, as Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have been slashing their team’s payroll and looking for nickels and dimes under every nook and cranny, the only only investor not affiliated with Mets that has offered to help keep the team afloat has been Cohen, offering $20 million for a 4% stake. The Mets are praying that their season ticket sales will look good enough by the end of April that they can restructure $430 million of debt due in two years. If not, I, and at least two sports bankers familiar with the team’s I have spoken with, believe it is quite possible the Mets will follow the Dodgers into Chapter 11. But at least Cohen is offering the Mets a temporary lifeline. Selig owes Cohen one for that.

During the next few weeks Cohen is also going to set the bar on the sale price for Frank McCourt’s Dodgers. In doing so, Cohen is will be sending a signal on the value of many of the new local television deals struck recently. The Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres (pending) have received equity stakes in regional sports networks as part of their new media deals. Several other teams, like the Chicago Cubs, are likely to do the same thing over the next couple of years. Cohen’s bid for the Dodgers, which is largely based on what he thinks the value of the team’s next media deal, beginning in 2014, is worth, is going to influence the value of a lot of RSNs.

Other than St. Louis Rams owner Steve Kroenke, Cohen is the only person currently bidding for the Dodgers with the cash to pay over $1 billion for the team. There are several bidders offering $1.5 billion for the Dodgers. But who has the cash? Remember how quickly Rick Caruso bailed? That wasn’t about the parking lots not being included, as Carouso so meekly claimed. It was about cash. MLB kicked out Jared Kushner because he didn’t have the cash either. He wanted to buy the Dodgers with too much debt.

First and foremost, good on MLB for not repeating their McCourt mistake with Kushner. (And if true, it’s insane to me that Kushner would have even bothered.) Of course, if Selig really does want Cohen and his massive financial power to rescue a team so badly, why not just let him keep buying up shares of his hometown Mets? It’s not like the Dodgers don’t have other parties interested, and the Mets are arguably a bigger concern than the Dodgers are right now.

Then there’s Kroenke, who has some appeal. He’s clearly got a ton of experience in sports ownership, having owned parts or all of the St. Louis Rams, English soccer club Arsenal, and basically every professional Colorado sports club that isn’t the Rockies or Broncos, including the Nuggets (NBA), Avalanche (NHL), Mammoth (NLL), Rapids (MLS), and Crush (AFL). Beyond the teams themselves, his groups own the Pepsi Center in Denver and launched Altitude (a regional sports network which carries his Colorado teams) & TicketHorse, a ticketing agency for all of his teams.

In this 2010 ESPN report regarding Kroenke’s move to obtain majority control of the Rams (he’d been a minority owner since the team moved from Los Angeles in 1995), he received high grades for his behind-the-scenes style of management:

Kroenke marked the occasion by making a rare appearance before the media. He has steadfastly maintained a low profile as minority owner of the Rams, earning the nickname Silent Stanley.

“I just have a really busy life,” he said. “I like the members of the press. I really do. I almost went to journalism school. I just don’t have the time. It takes a lot of time to build those relationships, to nurture them.”

He scoffed as his reputation for being publicity shy.

“I’m not trying to offend anyone,” Kroenke said. “I know there’s this wonderful little picture of Silent Stan. I guess it makes good copy. But it just isn’t so.”

(snip)

He plans to run the Rams with the same behind-the-scenes style he had as minority owner. But there will be no mistake who’s the boss.

“I don’t think it’s a mystery the way we’re running our other clubs,” Kroenke said. “I like to know what’s going on; I like to be involved. But the No. 1 thing is finding the right people, putting them in place and trying to help them out.”

So there’s little question that Kroenke is a tremendously wealthy man (estimated net worth of over $3b) with a great history of sports ownership and a new RSN under his belt, with few public black marks against him. Though he’s a Missouri native, Kroenke even owns a house in Malibu, at least three wineries in California, and his daughter Whitney lives in Los Angeles, so he’s not completely without local ties; this 2007 Denver Post story paints him as a voracious reader and sometimes outdoorsman who is conscious of his health.

The big question, though, is what is Kroenke’s ultimate goal? Is it simply to own a baseball team, considering that it’s basically the only sport he hasn’t had ownership ties in? Is it because he sees the Dodgers as a good investment opportunity? Or is it, as many have suggested, because the NFL potentially returning to Los Angeles is always a hot topic, and he just so happens to own an NFL team that used to play in Los Angeles, just hired former USC player Jeff Fisher to coach, & is currently engaged in a stadium battle with St. Louis that could allow them to move as soon as after the 2014 season?

I’m not quite sure that’s the case, because it’s a little hard to imagine a man who tried (unsuccessfully) to bring football to St. Louis in 1993 and then helped bring the Rams there in 1995 turning around and tearing them out of his home state; he seems somewhat less ruthless, at least publicly, than some of the other billionaires we’ve discussed. If it is his goal to increase the value of the Rams by moving them back to Los Angeles, I don’t mind that in theory, because I think we all know the area is getting an NFL team at some point, and it might as well be a team that already had history there.

I would just worry about the idea of the Dodgers being purchased as a secondary concern towards getting the NFL to LA, and even moreso about where they’d play. I’m sure you all are far more up to date than I am on the various plans and locations put forward for potential football stadiums to house an NFL team (or two), and so it wouldn’t really matter to me which of those the Rams might end up in. But the terrifying part of all that would be if Kroenke would want to build a park in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium… parking lots which Frank McCourt is likely to retain, which could then have Kroenke needing to partner with McCourt in some fashion if he’s unable to buy the lots outright. I’ve liked Kroenke more than I did previously just by writing this piece today, but the idea of anyone who thinks it’s a smart decision to partner with the outgoing scumbag raises a huge red flag. It remains to be seen, of course, if that would be the case.

Last but not least on Shaikin’s list of three front-runners is the Magic Johnson group, which I think many of us have favored since day one. How could you not? Magic is a local hero with obvious sports credentials, even owning part of the successful Dayton Dragons minor league club in addition to his years of service with the Lakers. He’d be one of the few minorities at the ownership level in sports, and he’s partnered with the right people, since Stan Kasten has been in baseball for decades and Mark Walter is the head of the massively wealthy Guggenheim Partners. I’ve yet to see any real downside to this group, and they’re still my preferred selection. The only outstanding question for me here is what will happen with Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in Los Angeles and a part-owner of the Lakers, who was “absolutely certain” to take part in the bidding, according to reps a few weeks ago. Soon-Shiong is friends with Johnson, but has yet to throw his weight behind any bidding group; his financial muscle combined with the public- and MLB-friendly Johnson/Kasten duo could make this group the one to beat.

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Today’s lineup for the 12:05pm PT matinee against the Cubs, which will be broadcast live on Prime Ticket and replayed tonight on MLB Network:

Tony Gwynn (DH), Mark Ellis (2B), James Loney (1B), Jerry Sands (LF), Juan Uribe (3B), Trent Oeltjen (RF), Tim Federowicz (C), Justin Sellers (SS), Matt Angle (CF), with Ted Lilly attempting to rebound from his poor first outing.

They’ll be followed by this list of backups: Ivan De Jesus, Alex Castellanos, Jeff Baisley, Cory Sullivan, Josh Fields, Scott Van Slyke, Gorman Erickson, and Luis Cruz.

Seven Groups Still in Running for Dodger Ownership

Feels like we’re finally making progress in this ownership mess, aren’t we? For weeks, every bit of information that came out was blanketed in caveats like “at least” or “publicly known”; for a while, we didn’t even know how many bidders were actually involved in this thing. Earlier this month, we found out that eleven bidders remained, and today, Bill Shaikin lets us know the list has been sliced to seven. We already knew that both the Joe Torre and Peter O’Malley groups had dropped out, and today we learned that Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley and Milwaukee Brewers investor Tony Ressler are no longer involved. (Whether they dropped out voluntarily or had that decision made for them is unclear.)

Here’s an updated list of the seven survivors:

1) Magic Johnson / Stan Kasten
2) Stephen Cohen / Arn Tellem
3) Leo Hindery / Tom Barrack
4) Stanley Gold / family of Roy Disney
5) Alan Casden
6) Stan Kroenke
7) Jared Kushner

We’ve been through most of these groups before. Cohen and Kushner get massive, massive “DO NOT WANT” grades from me, while Kroenke troubles me somewhat because of the potential that he’s more interested in the Rams than in baseball. I honestly can’t say I’ve formed much of an opinion yet on Hindery/Barrack, Casden, or Gold/Disney, while the Johnson/Kasten group is really the only one that stands out to me right now as a particular favorite, particularly if uberbillionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong gets involved, as most expect he will. Remember, even at this late date, there’s no reason some of these groups couldn’t change. If, for example, the Gold/Disney group think they need to shore up the baseball side of things, they could always go out and bring aboard a Torre or an Orel Hershiser – it’s not set in stone. (And that’s just pure speculation on my part, as well.)

What this doesn’t answer is the open question about Frank McCourt’s position regarding the parking lots, which of course scared the hell out of all of us last week. Steve Dilbeck suggests that all of the bidders should drop out unless McCourt agrees to include the lots and completely rid himself of any association with the Dodgers, which, while noble, is pretty far-fetched. (Though it does raise the interesting legal question of just what would happen if a man with a legally obligated deadline to sell the team – but not the lots – suddenly had no bids at all.) Even former McCourt crony Steve Soboroff spoke up recently, saying that working with McCourt can always lead to more trouble.

Now that the Blackstone Group, the investment group which is handling this sale for McCourt, has settled on these seven bidders, the next step is that they are all submitted to Major League Baseball for final approval. We don’t know the exact timetable for that process; whomever makes it through MLB approval will then be considered the group of finalists from which McCourt will make his final decision. Since it’s just over a month until April 1, when McCourt is mandated to select his winner, we won’t have to wait too long.

At Least a Dozen Potential Ownership Groups Vying for Dodgers

With initial bids for ownership of the Dodgers due two weeks from today, it’s worth looking into the various groups we’ve heard publicly declare interest in the team. It’s a fascinating combination of Dodger legends, Los Angeles public figures, and financial backers worth absolutely obscene amounts of money.

What I do think people need to keep in mind, however, is that with the possible exception of Mark Cuban, if you’ve heard of any of these names, then they’re not providing the money. I’ve been amazed how often people will see an ownership group headed by, say, Steve Garvey, and say “wow! Steve Garvey’s a billionaire?!” Of course he’s not; he, like Joe Torre, like Magic Johnson, etc., are the sports- and Los Angeles-friendly public face on the front of a group of shady moneymen who are largely anonymous to most fans.

Let’s get down the list, knowing that there are probably still others who may be throwing their hats in the ring.

Joe Torre/Rick Caruso
Pros: No one on this list has anything like the continuous baseball experience that Torre brings dating back to 1960, and he remains a popular figure among many Dodger fans; in addition, his ties with MLB and Selig should make approval easy. Caruso, a real estate billionaire, certainly has the money, and Bill Shaikin’s tweet that “the banker in the Caruso/Torre group is Byron Trott of BDT Capital in Chicago, called by Warren Buffett “the only banker he trusts” seems positive.

Cons: Torre is decidedly old school, and might not be as open to new ideas as I’d like. I don’t consider it at all a coincidence that Matt Kemp broke out as soon as Torre and his staff left, and I’d worry that unlike most other new owners, Torre may not do the front office housecleaning I think we’re all hoping for. In addition, while I don’t think anyone is against sprucing up Dodger Stadium and the surrounding area, there could be concern that Caruso might push for something far too over the top.

Obviously, it all depends on the cash, but I’d have to guess this group is near the head of the pack; Torre likely wouldn’t have quit his MLB gig for a mere shot in the dark.

Stephen Cohen
Pros: Massively wealthy hedge fund executive, possibly worth around $8 billion dollars. Could include Arn Tellem, longtime player agent, and Steve Greenberg, former MLB deputy commissioner, in his group, which would provide plenty of baseball cache. Did I mention just how absurdly rich he is?

Cons: So, so, many. I don’t mind that he’s from the East Coast, but the fact that he’s reportedly never set foot in Dodger Stadium isn’t a plus. His firm is being investigated for a criminal insider trading scandal, and he’s been involved in a divorce so nasty that it might actually rival the McCourt mess. Looks like the unholy love child of Dr. Evil, Ham Rove, and Danny DeVito’s Penguin character from “Batman Returns”. After what we’ve all been through, I don’t think we can handle another scandal-ridden moneyman with no connection to baseball or the area.

Stanley Gold / Roy Disney Family
Pros: A relatively new name in the hunt, Roy Disney’s family has reportedly partnered with investment head Gold to try to purchase the team. Gold, a 69-year-old Los Angeles native, is perhaps best known for helping the Disney family push Michael Eisner out of the company. He has personalized autographs from Stan Musial and Babe Ruth in his home.

Cons: This group’s interest is so new that there’s been little further detail known about them, but they have a significant lack of baseball experience so far. Disney, of course, owned the Angels from 1996-03, which I’m guessing many Dodger fans would find as a detriment, though I would point out that “Disney, the corporation” isn’t really the same thing as “the late Roy Disney’s family”, at least as far as we know.

Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten/Mark Walter
Pros: Johnson is of course a tremendously well-known public figure in Los Angeles, and Kasten is one of the most respected men in baseball, having run the Braves and Nationals dating back to 1986. Walter is the head of Guggenheim Partners, an investment firm that has $125b in holdings. As described to ESPN’s Buster Olney, “their ownership of the Dodgers — if it happens — would work this way: Walter would write the big checks; Kasten would oversee the baseball operations; and Johnson, who recently sold his ownership share of the Los Angeles Lakers, would work as a president or vice president on both the business side and in recruiting players, when needed.” Johnson currently owns part of Cincinnati’s Dayton Dragons farm team, one of the most successful in all of minor league baseball; if this group won, he’d be one of the highest-ranking minorities in sports, which is notable.

Cons: Honestly, not all that many that I can see. Johnson has barely any baseball experience – I’m assuming he’s not really involved in the day-to-day operations of the Dragons – but Kasten’s long and respected track record ameliorates that somewhat. This is a pretty solid combination of local celebrity / baseball experience / financial backing.

Time Warner Cable
Pros: Uh… hmm. Let me get back to you on that one.

Cons: We’ve lived through corporate ownership that was mostly interested in television ratings once, right? Remember, that’s how Mike Piazza ended up being traded, thanks to FOX scuzzball Chase Carey. While it may make fiscal sense for TWC to just buy the team rather than pay billions for television rights, that could just hurt the Dodgers, because then they may not get the huge television contract they’re in line for – and don’t forget, that’s largely what fueled the Anaheim spending spree this winter. Does not want.

Tony Ressler
Pros: Like Gold, a new name in the process. Married to actress Jami Gertz, which I suppose is neither a pro nor a con, rather merely a thing that is true. Ressler was part of the Mark Attanasio investment group which purchased the Brewers in 2005, though it’s unclear if he’s still involved with Milwaukee. He’s a co-founder of investment group Ares Management, which has $40b in holdings.

Cons: So far, just a lack of information. Attanasio is pretty much my dream owner, and he and Ressler have been friends since the 1980s, so that’s promising, but we just don’t know enough about Ressler’s group to really say yet.

Dennis Gilbert / Larry King
Pros: Gilbert, a former player agent and executive for the White Sox, has been rumored to be a potential bidder for the Dodgers for years. King’s involvement is somewhat unclear since this appears to be primarily Gilbert’s group, though it’s worth noting that both King and Gilbert have had season tickets for years. Gilbert tried to purchase the Rangers last season but lost out; he’s aligned with Jason Reese and Randy Wooster, who run investment bank Imperial Capital. Gilbert’s baseball credentials are excellent, dating back to the two seasons he spent as a minor league outfielder for the Red Sox and Mets in 1968-69.

Cons: So far, nothing stands out. Gilbert has a great history and lots of appeal, but will the sticker shock be too much?

Fred Claire
Pros: Has obvious baseball experience in that he was the club’s GM from 1989-98, and worked for the club for nearly thirty years in total. We haven’t heard much about this group – including former Dodger batboy and biotech executive Ben Hwang & Andy Dolich, executive for several pro sports teams – since Claire first announced interested in early November.

Cons: Claire traded Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields. I know it has nothing to do with his potential as an owner, and I know that at the time it was defensible. It still happened. More importantly, we need to know more about the financial backing in his group, of which little information is known.

Steve Garvey / Orel Hershiser
Pros: Obviously, the 27 combined seasons they spent as Dodgers is a fun draw for some fans. (Surprisingly, at least to me, they were never teammates; Garvey left after 1982, and Hershiser made his debut the following season.) Hershiser is well thought-of within the game, and this group reportedly passed the initial step of the bid process. A successful bid might make Sons of Steve Garvey implode in all the right ways.

Cons: Though Garvey and Hershiser have good name recognition, there’s very little information thus far about who would be the financial muscle behind this group. (Joey Herrick of Natural Balance Pet Foods is reportedly a minority investor, but we still don’t know who would be the primary backer.) Garvey was fired by McCourt from his community relations job last June, in part because he made his intentions to pursue the team clear, so there’s some question about whether McCourt would select Garvey’s group even if the numbers were right. In addition, Garvey is hardly without black marks on his record.

Peter O’Malley
Pros: Certainly is the only one here who can say they have actual experience owning the Dodgers, since he and his father owned the club for decades. Very publicly called for McCourt to sell for the good of the team back in 2010. One of the groups that passed the initial step. He’d be partnering with his nephews, Robert & Peter Seidler, who run their own equity firm, in an effort to return the team to family ownership.

Cons: It can be argued that O’Malley set this entire mess in motion by selling to FOX in the first place. He’s also 74 years old, and while that alone shouldn’t immediately disqualify him, the task of restoring the Dodgers is a large one, so I’d prefer someone under 60. Besides, it’s not like the Dodgers were in such great shape over the last decade or so of his reign anyway.

Mark Cuban
Pros: Successful experience in pro sports ownership, having turned the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks from a laughingstock into league champions. Young, wealthy, more in tune with the fan perspective than most other names on this list, and clearly has interest in MLB ownership, having previously been involved in bidding for the Rangers and Cubs. Would likely come into town with a flourish with grand gestures to win the fans back; all but guaranteed to cause Bud Selig heartburn with his public outbursts.

Cons: That last “pro” is also a con, because I’m far from convinced that Selig would ever let Cuban into his little club. It’s fun to think about, but the chances here are low. He’s said previously he’s not likely to bid if the price is over $1 billion, and I’m guessing it’s easily going to be more than that. Besides, he may or may not actually be interested in making a bid, and it’s fair to wonder if he’d be spread thin owning two teams.

Josh Macciello
Pros: Uh, let’s start with “cons” on this one.

Cons: May be completely full of it, to the point where I probably shouldn’t even validate it by including him on this list. Spelled Vin Scully’s name wrong, which is unforgivable. Impossible at this moment to verify just about anything he’s claimed. Even if he’s for real, you think Cuban would have a tough time getting approved? Just imagine Bud and his stodgy friends discussing this guy. I mean, look at him.

Pros: If this is for real, I have a hard time pretending that there’s not some appeal to a young, wealthy, fan type in a sea of soulless, dead-eyed venture capitalist scuzzballs. There’s definitely some fun in the anarchist idea of trying something completely new and non-traditional, even if by all accounts it’s a terrible idea. In the same sense that “I mean, look at him” is a con, it’s also a pro. You can only see the top part of it in this picture, but his T-shirt is Rocky Balboa, which he’s wearing because “he’s an underdog”. (This is a thing he said.) Hilarity would ensue. He’d probably have the national anthem sung by Megadeth or something.

If I had to put odds on this one, I’d go with “about the same as Juan Uribe winning the NL MVP… in each of the next twenty seasons. Unanimously. And to the point where they rename it ‘the Juan Uribe Award’.”

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So that’s 12 groups, at least that we know of. Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News appears to favor Torre’s group, which is fine – though as I said, Torre’s possible reluctance to want a new general manager worries me. At this early stage, I think the Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten and Dennis Gilbert groups appeal to me the most, since they have the right combination of local passion and baseball experience – if the money is right. As time goes on, it’s likely that some of these groups will disappear and others could join forces. We should know more in two weeks or so when the bid deadline has passed; until we know who actually has the serious cash to back up their interest, trying to guess who the next owner might be is mere speculation.