Jon Wiseman of ESPN Los Angeles had, what I consider, one of the most thoughtful views on what has transpired over the past several weeks in this article posted yesterday evening. I’d encourage you to stop reading my post and click through to his assessment and then come back.
Wiseman makes the observation that this is more than the alleged mismanagement of the team’s finances – at the core is the horrific Bryan Stow beating and the shock of the initial reaction of McCourt who felt nothing could have been done to prevent that ruthless attack. Many fans simply decided making a trip to Dodger Stadium wasn’t worth it – whether it was for safety reasons, performance reasons (the team’s record), or financial reasons.
Wiseman also points out that, while this wasn’t an organized protest, it’s clear that many fans have simply thrown up their hands and turned their back on the organization:
The thing is, it hasn’t been an organized boycott, not on any widespread level. It’s been people on their own coming to the conclusion that life was too short to waste on a franchise in this condition.
This includes people like my father, who chose during the offseason not to renew my family’s season tickets for a 30th season. It also includes the people who typically would improvise their ticket purchases after the season was underway.
That’s not to say Dodger Stadium was or would be empty. Some still show up because they love the team through thick and decidedly thin. The game’s pull remains strong. I myself have been trying to figure out when to get my kids to their first game of 2011.
But things haven’t been this low at Dodger Stadium before, have they? I think back to 1992, the worst team in Los Angeles Dodger history playing against the backdrop of a city torn by riots, and there was not such bitterness over the state of ownership.
Dodgers fans have been wandering through a desert of uncertainty and dismay for well more than a year since the McCourts’ marital strife put control of the team in limbo. What the Bryan Stow incident did, besides put the life of a man in jeopardy, was amplify the fear that with McCourt in charge, there might be no bottom.
Selig’s actions yesterday have certainly limited how much further the team could tumble down the rabbit hole, but what now? Can McCourt really make a comeback from this? Does he have any supporters left? I can’t think of a way out of this other than a forced sale at this point, but perhaps I’m wrong on this one. I do hope, however, that Jon Wiseman and I are right – because that hope is what many of the remaining Dodger fans are clinging to at this point.