Right now this feels a lot like the winter of 2003 as Dodger fans knew the Fox era was coming to an end but had no idea who would end up owning the ship. Of course the team was not in Chapter 11, and Fox was not as reviled as Frank McCourt, but with any change in ownership, questions will be asked.
While many had their doubts about Frank McCourt, from the beginning I was in a different place. His era started out so promising for me after I had basically shined on my team during the Fox years. By 2003 I had been completely indoctrinated into the Baseball Prospectus view point of following baseball. I still followed the Dodgers but they were no longer a team that dominated my daily thoughts.
That all changed for me the day Fox sold the team, at the time I couldn't have cared less who they sold to, I just wanted Fox to stop being owners of my team. When the McCourts held their GM search, and picked the one person who I would have picked to be the GM, the joy I felt cannot be adequately expressed. Here was my team, going out on a limb and taking a chance on a sabremetric breath of fresh air.
It was enough for me to become a season ticket holder for the first time. Several days before the start of the 2004 season I went to Dodger Stadium for the first time with the intent to buy season tickets. We purchased them, four seats, right next to the bullpen, staring right down into Gagne land. On opening day my wife and I went and for the first time we walked the loge aisle as season ticket holders. It was an interesting feeling, this bursting of pride I felt as we walked around and around. For the first time in a long time, I felt this was my team again.
That feeling lasted all of 2004, it was a good first year for the McCourts and for the team. The Lima game was the peak of the McCourt / Gurnee relationship. One year later he would fire Depodesta even though he had three more years on his contract. Frank would turn from a cutting edge owner to a run of the mill owner who brought in a safe ex-Giant to run the team.
It was the beginning of the end of my relationship with Frank. FranknNed had some great success on their own, no once can deny the incredible excitement of the team in 2008. At that point I'd say many fans were still in the McCourts' corner but that would change quickly and drastically.
The divorce news came out of the blue, I least I think it did. The financial problems that had been hinted at in 2009 became full blown news as the divorce blew away everyone with the financial spendthrifts the McCourts had become.
We all all know how the last few years have gone, with the team a laughing stock long before they ended up in bankruptcy. I don't feel Bud Selig treated Frank McCourt fairly compared to how he worked with other teams. Frank fought to keep ownership of his team as hard as anyone has ever fought for something. In the end he had too much going against him, and for Dodgers fans that is okay, as Frank needed to be removed like a tumorous cancer that had stayed its welcome much too long.
Still the news that he was giving up the battle surprised me. I had felt this was more then owning the Dodgers; this was a vendetta against Selig for not helping him when a simple Yes would have changed his financial landscape. Hard for me to picture Bud Selig as the white knight in this mess since he was the one who orchestrated the ability for the McCourts to purchase this team in the first place. Yet, here Selig stands on his white horse being the one most responsible for making Frank McCourt sell the team he so bitterly tried to keep from his wife.
I'm glad Frank is gone; unlike others I'm not hoping for a Russian or Arabian billionaire to purchase this team. I simply want an owner who is a Dodger fan with enough money to run the franchise as it should be run. I'm not interested in outspending our competition by millions of dollars. I'm more of a fan of running an intelligent organization using every resource as it should be used.
For us the future now has a paved road but it will still take some unsettling turns before we reach our destination. Some of us will be thrilled with the new owners, some of us will find unsettling warts.
Will the current management team be kept in place?
Will they spend money after spending one billion or more to buy the team?
I don't know, but the devil we know is gone, and we can only hope the new owner cares enough about the history of the Los Angeles Dodger franchise to do good by her.
Here is to a new beginning, one that hopefully will include at some point a world championship for those who are tired of hearing how great 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, and 1988 were. It is time you got your own to embrace.