It’s been barely 24 hours since news broke that Frank McCourt would be willing to sell the Dodgers (hours in which we’ve tripled the previous one-day traffic record here, thanks largely to links at Grantland and the New York Times, and a reminder that if the McCourt disaster was good for one thing, it was blogging) and the silly season has already gotten started as far as potential owners.
Maybe Peter O’Malley will come back. Former Dodgers Steve Garvey & Orel Hershiser are reportedly preparing a bid, which must mean that a competing bid from Chad Fonville & Wilton Guerrero is just around the corner. Former owners and players not enough? How about former GM Fred Claire, who says he’s putting together a group with former A’s exec Andy Dolich. We could hold out hope that Mark Attanasio wants to ditch Milwaukee to come back to Los Angeles. Or perhaps Dennis Gilbert, long thought to be a top suitor. Maybe Fox or Time Warner want to buy in order to get the television rights. We could see Mark Cuban try again for MLB approval. Or if not him, perhaps other billionaires like Alec Gores, Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, or Larry Ellison. Or maybe that Chinese money will find its way back around.
And that’s just in one day. The point is, over the coming weeks and months, you’re going to be hearing the names of every egomaniacal Angelino with a heartbeat and either a fat bank account or friends who do floated in rumors about possibly acquiring the team. It’s going to be fun, and more than a little bit crazy.
Let’s just remember what we want from an owner. Jon Weisman has a solid list at Dodger Thoughts today, and if I can add one or two items that may be a bit unpopular with some fans, it’d be this: I don’t really care if the new owner is a “true Dodger”, and I don’t care if they’re even from Los Angeles. For my money, nothing matters more to me than having an owner that is well-funded, wants to win, and treats the franchise and fans with respect, not as their own personal plaything. That’s a big black mark for me against a Garvey group, because he’s had more than his share of scandals, and simply having played for the team decades ago doesn’t add anything for me. This is the same argument I’ve had with people about hiring Dodger managers, too, and it’s the same argument I’ll keep having as I can already see people getting behind the Garvey idea.
As for the issue of an owner being from Los Angeles, I certainly understand the emotion behind that. The McCourts blew into town and ruined an institution. Absolutely. I just think that’s more because they’re truly awful people than because of where they’re from; this could have just as easily happened if they were from Brentwood rather than Brookline. Look around the bigs, anyway – I doubt you’ll see too many Brewer fans upset because Attanasio isn’t from Wisconsin, or Red Sox fans unhappy with the John Henry era, even though he grew up a Cardinals fan in Illinois and had ownership pieces in two other MLB clubs before Boston. I get that everyone wants a Mike Ilitch, a hometown boy made good who grew up to rescue his childhood team, and if that happens here then fantastic, but it just doesn’t always work that way. (Yes, I’m biased for obvious reasons. Sue me.)
I don’t really have a preference yet on the list of names above (other than not wanting a corporation like Time Warner). O’Malley is intriguing, I suppose, and Cuban & Attanasio are probably wonderful pipe dreams. It’s really too soon to have an informed opinion, especially with interest levels varying and financial backing uncertain. Let’s just hope this is done the right way, that MLB doesn’t repeat the initial mistake that got us here in the first place, and that we can finally start acting like we’re merely baseball fans again sometime soon.