Life has been tough for Dodger fans since, oh … 1988, Orel Hershiser, and Kirk Gibson. It’s been that long since the boys in blue made it to a World Series, but that’s hardly been the worst of it. After the O’Malley family sold the team, ownership has gone from disinterested to downright embarrassing, culminating in the takeover by Major League Baseball last season when the divorce proceedings of then-owner Frank McCourt left the team unable to meet its payroll.
Dodger fans needed hope. They needed a hero. They needed … magic. And Magic is exactly what they got last night:
Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has announced an agreement Tuesday night to sell the bankrupt team for $2 billion to a group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten.
The agreement, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for the auction, is to lead to a transfer of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court.
LA Times columnist Steve Dilbeck is delighted to have a genuine Los Angeles hero as part of the rescue team:
This is the part where I try not to act all gleeful, and fail miserably. Fail happily.
Can you paint a monster grin in a blog? Is there an app for that? Who knew failing could be so completely wondrous.
One Los Angeles icon merges with another. Really, it’s so terrific that right now I can’t even be bothered that Frank McCourt is miraculously going to walk away from this with a cool billion.
We have someone who knows, understands and appreciates Los Angeles. Someone worthy of being the face of a local cultural treasure.
So Magic doesn’t know baseball. So what? You know what he does know? How to win. How to connect with the fans. How to build something from almost nothing. And he’s smart enough to recognize what he doesn’t know.
Johnson won’t run the ownership group. The functional ownership position will go to Mark Walter, the CEO of Guggenheim Partners, the player with the largest stake in the deal, and Kasten is expected to run the team. But while Walter may sit in the owner’s box and make the behind-the-scenes decisions, Johnson will make the Dodgers the hot ticket in town again. Angelenos have admired Magic ever since he first came to town as a Laker and won championships for LA, and helped make basketball cool and hip in the famously laid-back city. Heck, I’ve never liked basketball, but I loved watching Magic play the game.
Earvin Johnson has brought magic with him wherever he goes. The Dodgers couldn’t have done better than to get some Magic in the front office after almost a quarter-century of futility. What a great day for sports fans in Los Angeles, and a great day for Major League Baseball.