October 22, 2014

The Richest Man in LA Joins Forces with Other Rich Guys in Bidding for Dodgers

Magic Johnson has to be bummed this evening as, per the all-knowing Bill Shaikin, Patrick Soon-Shiong (also known as the Richest Man in LA and part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers) has chosen to join billionaire Steve Cohen’s bid to buy the Dodgers.  Cohen’s a relative unknown in LA, so adding Soon-Shiong adds some LA muscle to his bid, and most likely some added cash to at least match the $1.6 billion that Magic’s group has bid so far (although Cohen has offered the most cash at $900 million).  And while it’s certainly exciting to see two guys that have such deep pocketbooks teaming up to bid on the Dodgers, like many fans, I’ve been rooting for Magic Johnson’s group to land Soon-Shiong, if only for a return to local ownership and a greater sense of loyalty with the fans.  Mark Oznian of Forbes recently reported on the arms race for dollars currently going on amongst the rich guys still in the running, including Magic’s group reportedly adding film producer Peter Gruber last week.

It just seems unfathonable to me that out of the collection of billionaires lining up for the Dodgers, none so far has seemed to be able to get McCourt to let go of the parking lots.  In the end, I’ll take any owner that is committed to this team, the fans and building a winner here in Los Angeles.  Spring officially starts tomorrow, and a new beginning for the Dodgers is just around the corner – April 30th can’t come soon enough.

Photo Credit: Lee Salem / Los Angeles Times

It’s Time for Dodger Baseball!

I love Opening Day.  Especially when it comes at home against the hated San Francisco Giants.  The best day of the year against our most bitter rival.  If that doesn’t get you pumped up, I don’t know what would.

But while I think about all of the reasons that I lvoe Dodger baseball, I can’t help but think about the growing chorus of doubts about the team ownership which have started to creep into days reserved for only true baseball optimists.

First it was the surprising decline in attendance numbers at Camelback Ranch this spring.  According to the Arizona Republic, attendance at Dodgers games was down 17% while attendance at White Sox games went up 12.4%.  Hmm.

Then there was the Bill Plashke article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times about former season ticket holder Brian Gadinsky who returned his tickets and turned down an opportunity to meet Frank McCourt.  He vowed not to renew until new ownership was in place.  The article has generated 98 comments (with the majority favoring the fan).  Care to guess how many comments there were on Chad Billingsley’s contract extension from the same day?  Zero.  Something’s brewing people.

Finally there was the oddest story of them all: Andre Ethier speaking about potentially leaving the Dodgers.  Per Jim Peltz of the LA Times:

“If I don’t play well, we’ve seen them non-tender guys here, and if you play well, I’ve seen them not offer arbitration because they’re afraid guys are setting their salaries too high,” he said.

When a reporter asked Ethier whether being non-tendered was the only way he could leave after this season, Ethier replied, “Or traded.”

Whoa.  It’s one thing for fans to not have confidence in the ownership, but another for one of their star players to speak out like that.  Fortunately it doesn’t sound like ‘Dre wants to leave, but more like he wouldn’t be surprised if the club non-tendered him after a down year, like his friend Russell Martin (although I seriously doubt anyone really believes that Martin was non-tendered for any reason other than his hip injury and declining production).  Sure, Ethier’s agent walked this statement back, but it made clear that there are lingering questions in the clubhouse about ownership and their ability to field a championship team (to say nothing of the potential impact on free agents wanting to come to LA).

But you know what?  Today I don’t care about any of that.  Hope springs eternal on Opening Day with plenty of tantalizing questions for Dodger fans to ponder including: How will rookie manager Don Mattingly do?  Is this the year that Clayton Kershaw contends for a Cy Young Award?  Will Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier return to form and be the monsters of the lineup?

But most of all, I’m looking forward to slipping on my headphones while in the office, sitting back, closing my eyes and enjoying Vin Scully call yet another Opening Day while delighting and informing us with his unique brand of storytelling.

It’s time for Dodger baseball.  Indeed it is!

Manny Ramirez Snubs Frank McCourt’s Suspension Requests

I don’t make a habit of reading the Boston Globe, but the recent Red Sox struggles against the Mets have made for some interesting reading (especially the fan comments) :)

While perusing the Globe, I did notice a small update on Manny’s progress against Frank McCourt’s Requests while he is out on suspension. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to report other than Manny has elected to skip all of what McCourt asked him to do other than apologize to the team.

In fact, Ramirez has flat-out rejected apologizing to fans for the incident thus far, simply saying, “I’m not ready.”

Welcome to Manny Being Manny and our latest chapter in a book full of love-hate experiences and off-the-field wishes that almost never come true.

The 25 million dollar man is either not getting good advice or refusing to listen to whatever advice is being presented to him. Either way, the end result is not good – the Dodgers are learning that they can do without Manny – something infathomable at the end of last season

McCourt’s requests seem simple enough:
1. Show remorse
2. Take batting practice
3. Continue to mentor the young bats
4. Address the team

So far, he has addressed the team…and promptly disappeared.

Do The Dodgers (or Alyssa) Really Welcome Manny being Manny?

Do The Dodgers (or Alyssa) Really Welcome Manny being Manny?

The 25 million dollar man is either not getting good advice or refusing to listen to whatever advice is being presented to him. Either way, the end result is not good – the Dodgers are learning that they can do without Manny – something infathomable at the end of last season.

Sure, there is no one power hitter who can replace Manny in the lineup. However, The Dodgers offense has come on strong after the first five games of Manny’s suspension and hasn’t looked back since. In addition, Frank McCourt will likely get most of the business benefits he planned on when re-signing Manny without having to pay the full $25 million (see previous story here).

Manny, if I were you I’d get on that “honey do” list that Frank sent your way before you outlive your usefulness to the only team that was willing to give you a reasonable contract in the offseason.

Dodgers Go All Out for Local Bloggers

 

As many of you know, the Dodgers hosted a group of local bloggers in a suite at Dodger Stadium last night in an effort to start a dialogue with the local blogging community. Hats off to Josh Rawitch (the Dodgers’ VP of Public Relations and Broadcasting) for putting together a stellar event, and for caring about new media outlets and their role in the greater landscape of the team.

Josh and his team put together an incredible event, and I wanted to touch on a few of the highlights:

As soon as we had settled into our seats with a tasty Dodger Dog in hand, in walks Ned Colletti. “Let’s talk,” he said, and thus began a fascinating 30-minute conversation where Ned offered his honest, blunt and straightforward views on the team as it stands now, the players and the future of the team from a personnel perspective. A truly fascinating conversation. Ned was very open, and a great communicator (his background as a former PR guy paid off). Ned also showed off his own personal style by sporting a great pair of cowboy boots (check out the photo below).

A few minutes later, in walks owner Frank McCourt. Equally honest and to the point, Frank thoroughly answered every question asked of him during his nearly hour-long visit. The result was a unique insight into how decisions are made within the organization, both from a baseball perspective, as well as when it comes to the business and community relations side of things.

Finally the last of Josh’s special guests for the evening arrived: Tommy Lasorda (who else?!?). Tommy did not disappoint entering the rooms with a shout of “Where are the bloggers?!?” Tommy captivated the room with stories from his decades managing the team, the characters he had on his clubs and his thoughts on the poignant tribute the current Dodger players gave him at the end of Spring Training. Tommy left the room with a shout of “Keep blogging!” (don’t think that’s a problem with this crowd).

Special guests aside, it was fantastic to meet some of the other bloggers that cover the team. Each person was intelligent, insightful, opinionated and well-spoken. I think we all are excited about staying in touch and building a better network of Dodger bloggers while also having increased access to the Club itself.

Other bloggers in attendance included:

Erin from Beantown West

Sax and Orel and one other blogger (sorry, I can’t remember your name!) from Sons of Steve Garvey

Ernest from Dodgers Blue Heaven

Robert from The Trolley Dodger

Robert from Dodger Dugout

Josh Rawitch from Inside the Dodgers

Finally, a huge thank you to Josh and his team for putting together a fantastic evening and really starting a productive and honest dialogue. As Josh said several times throughout the evening, “This is just the beginning.” I, for one, look forward to see what’s coming next.

One memorable line was from Ned Colletti. As he stood up to leave the suite he said, “Let’s do it again soon.” I know every blogger there agreed wholeheartedly.

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