Earvin “Magic” Johnson and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Could two better sports icons be put together?Â Actually, could two better icons from “The City of Angels” be put together?
Well America, that’s just what happened.
On Tuesday, a group fronted by Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, Peter Guber, and Guggenheim Partner Mark Walter purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for a whopping $2.15 billion, the highest cost of any North American sports franchise in history. The group now owns the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, and 50% of the parking lots surrounding the park.
The former Los Angeles Lakers’ and NBA legend who won five titles during a magical NBA career (pun intended), is one of the city’s most beloved stars and is eager to putting the Dodgers back on top of the baseball world.
“The support has been overwhelming,” Johnson said, in an article from ESPN. “The Dodgers, it’s not that they need to be fixed, we need to just take them to the next level. People love this brand, they love the team, they love going to Dodger Stadium to watch a game. We just need to take them to the next level.”
While the news of Johnson as one of the team’s owners is enough to make Dodger fans giddy, perhaps the fact that former controversial owner Frank McCourt is no longer in charge is even better news. McCourt’s downfall startedÂ with an ugly divorce from his wife and former part-owner, Jamie McCourt in 2009, followed by a filing of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2011, to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointing a representative to control the Dodgers throughout the 2011 season. McCourt’s ownership of the Dodgers was anything but smooth, and ended with him ultimately having to put up the Dodgers for sale. It was a dark time and unfortunate situation for one of baseball’s most storied franchises.
However, now McCourt is in the rearview mirror. Any news of controversies between McCourt and Major League Baseball are finished. There will be no more stories about how bankrupt and cash-stripped the Dodgers are. It’s finally time for one of the greatest franchises in baseball to be put back on the map as a powerhouse. It’s been a great past few days for America’s Pastime.
That’s great and all, but here’s the big question: What does this mean for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball?
While the Dodgers may have a celebrity owner, don’t think that it means that Johnson won’t be heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the club. He has already been noted as saying that that team “will invest money,” and that “we want to win the World Series. We do want to win.” Expect Johnson to be involved in all aspects of the team’s ownership, and for the team to be willing to spend whatever it can to win and indulge in trades, a new tactic that General Manager Ned Colletti was barely able to use before.
To many baseball executives, they feel that Johnson becoming one of the owners of the Dodgers is one of the best things to happen to baseball. Bud Selig is thrilled about that fact that finally the Dodgers have a stable owner. As well, Johnson is a great public relations move, as his stake in the team, and his deep pockets, will surely intrigue free agents to want to play in Chavez Revine. The Dodgers will soon re-join the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies as part of baseball’s giants. This sale was a move that had to happen, and baseball could not have gotten better owners for the job.
Here’s one thing that this writer can guarantee: The “stars” WILL come to play in LA.
One could only imagine that the Dodgers will most certainly be in the hunt for future star free agents. They’ve now got the money to do so, and with a very respected executive in Colletti at the helm, things are starting to look up. Highly-coveted pitchers Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Zack Greinke, as well as All-Star third baseman David Wright and former Texas Rangers’ MVP Josh Hamilton, will all be searching for a new home come the next offseason. It’s not unrealistic to imagine at least two of them donning Dodger blue come 2013. What better place to play than in Los Angeles with the newly resurrected Dodgers? One would have to think that the movie stars on Hollywood won’t be the only ones around town.
With Kasten in control of player development, the Dodgers farm system can only get better. Kasten, who was key to the Atlanta Braves’ World Series championship in 1995 and perennial playoff runs in the 1990′s, helped produce the likes of Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, three players from the Braves’ farm system who are first-ballot Hall of Famers. While President of the Braves, Atlanta won more games than any other team from 1987-2003. The Dodgers’ current farm system doesn’t include many top impact prospects, but baseball fans can expect that to change drastically during the course of the ownership.
Then there are the good vibes. The Dodgers are looking forward to the new ownership as well. For once they can finally play without worrying about who will be traded to create salary space, or who won’t be coming back after the season because the team can’t spend. Current Dodger players, such as Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw, MVP runner-up Matt Kemp, and outfielder Andre Ethier have already expressed excitement to play for Johnson.
“It’s a great opportunity for this team and this franchise to get back on the right track and to see stability,” Ethier said. “It’s a chance to bring the Dodgers back to being the franchise they can be and deserve to be.”
Magic Johnson and co. will put the Dodgers back on track, and place them among baseball’s greatest once again.
Get ready, Dodger fans: The Dodgers already have the bright lights and grand stage of Hollywood in their backdrop, but now they have the bottomless wallet and the win-determined owner to make it all come together.
Finally, everything is all good again in Dodger Land, as it should be.