Sports Opinion & Analysis

How A Measly 2 Billion Dollars Changed The Dodgers

In MLB on June 1, 2012 at 10:55 am

At this point of the baseball season, weren’t we supposed to be talking about the other team from Los Angeles?

You know, the one that made all those fancy shmancy moves in the off season? The one that stole away the heart and soul from the World Series champs? The one that swooped in on the pitcher everybody wished they could afford? Who were they again?

“Well, at least I’m still making a quarter-billion dollars whether I hit or not…”

What were we talking about?

Anyway, faster than you couldn’t order your customized jersey, you can kill any more talk of LA become an Angels’ sort of town any time soon. At least, for now.

Because the Dodgers are back baby!

(It is only June…)

Now, there’ll be all sorts of folks who want to credit the rise of Los Doyers to improved pitching, to Clayton Kershaw being Clayton Kershaw (except two days ago against the Brewers…), to Matt Kemp (when he’s not hurt) playing like he’s rightfully pissed over how that whole MVP thing went down, when he lost to the guy who doesn’t have to explain anything, and blah blah blah blah blah. You know who those type of people are, the ones who want to give you every little statistic to support their ideas?

You know; number people. 

But I’m here to tell you there is only one number you need to concern yourself with. One number to answer all your questions about how the Dodgers got so good, so quickly. Actually there are a lot of numbers. Two billion, to be precise.

See, no matter who you bring into the rotation, or how Bobby Abreu is providing veteran leadership, or Andre Either yadda yadda yadda, the most overly simplified, fallacy-ridden explanation is the best.

Unless you’re JP Morgan, freely dumping $2 billion dollars can fix anything.

“Psssh, it’s just money!”

Because that’s how much the purchasing group (which included Los Angeles legend Magic Johnson), spent to pry the team away from the man who was driving them straight to hell. Two billion dollars took the team away from Frank McCourt, the most corrupt, inept, and insane owner of our time. The man who had so mismanaged the legendary team from Brooklyn and Hollywood, that he had to file for bankruptcy.

And it was the fans and the product on the field that suffered the most, because of it.

We’ve all had jobs like that. Well, maybe not to the extent of playing baseball for millions of dollars in the second largest market in the country, but you know what I mean. For example, in college I worked as a waiter for an upscale restaurant that was always on the verge of shutting down. As everyone who worked at the restaurant tried to do their job, rumors began swirling that the place was in financial trouble, and that it was probably going to close any day. This went on for months. For months there were rumors about how everyone was going to get fired. Rumors that one day we were going to show up, only to have the doors’ locked on us. Rumors rumors rumors.

With every rumor, another employee cared about their job performance a little less. With every day that passed, the service got a little serviceable, the food a little less appetizing, until nobody, from the kitchen to the hostess, was trying anymore. Why bother?

I wish I could tell you that the restaurant was sold to a better operator, and that it later found the prosperity of its glory days, but it didn’t. It just closed down.

But the next job I went to didn’t have any of those issues. It was well run, there wasn’t any fear of bankruptcy, management was not only great to work for, but inspiring, and the I never worked so hard in my entire life. No one I worked with, it seemed, worked so hard in their life. It’s like those studies that show how children in run down schools perform worse than children in state-of-the-art facilities. A little confidence can go a long, long way.

So back to the Dodgers:

What was the team like before the purchase, when McCourt was running the show? Seats left empty from a livid fan base who refused to take a second or third mortgage for tickets, parking and a Dodger Dog. Underachieving and apathetic players who looked brilliant one game, only to look like a junior high, junior varsity squad the next.

And what did $2 billion dollars buy?

Butts in the seat. Player confidence. Put those two things in the same room, and it’s like a perpetual motion machine. Fans root for the team, the team has something to play for, besides just no longer working for the guy who couldn’t afford his payroll from time-to-time.

This player ran the front office.

The Magic (Johnson) $2 billion dollars was to the Dodgers what the bailouts and TARP and stimulus packaged wished it could have been to the economy. It instantly added a sense of credibility and calm to everyone, from the bleachers to the field. Fan and player alike. It took away distractions and the circus shows and TMZ and everything else, and let everyone focus on what they were there for; baseball.

And then just like that, just when I was finishing these last few sentences, Matt Kemp went ahead and rehurt himself for the next four weeks. Although, knowing how the Dodgers now roll, I’m sure they’ll just give him an ice pack filled with dollar-dollar bills for that sore hamstring. They can afford it.

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