Nearly a year ago, I proposed a trade in a fanpost ((http://www.truebluela.com/2010/5/5/1459863/proposed-trade-dodgerscardinals). The comments migrated to a discussion of the McCourts' ownership. I am including some of the comments germane to this post below. The purpose here is not to rehash the ownership issue but to examine how TBLA handled criticism of Dodger ownership and to call for a little "soul-searching". Please note that there has been frequent dialogue on TBLA over the past few years of the McCourts and their stewardship of the Dodgers and the comments which I am including are but a small sample.
To the credit of the Moderators of TBLA, they did not silence criticism of the McCourts. [N.B. This in spite of the fact that it was not in their interest to antagonize Dodger ownership or management. As bloggers/media, they are accorded greater access than the average fan and even occasional access to Suite 216. Perks of the profession to be sure, but completely at the discretion of Dodger ownership.] I do not criticize the Moderators for articulating their opinions forcefully and honestly. Defending the McCourts is one thing, chiding, and being dismissive of, people whose comments are critical of the McCourts is another.
I would hope the Moderators would not only have an above-average knowledge of baseball and the Dodgers, in particular, but would also demonstrate their awareness of the limitations of their knowledge. Some people who comment on TBLA know the McCourts and the Dodger organization much better than the Moderators. And some, are more astute evaluators of human behavior. Many of the allegations critical of the McCourts are based on facts, as well as, personal knowledge. As it turns out, the basis of the criticism of the McCourts was not fabricated out of thin air and SOME of the Moderators of TBLA were among the last to understand or acknowledge that.
The conclusion of Ramona Shelburne (cited by underdog in yesterday's commentary http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/columns/story?id=6440483&ex_cid=nhffromfb) mirrors my own points last May, viz., the fans want an owner whose number one priority is the game: winning. The fans understand the need to make a profit. The issue is one of "emphasis and proportion". And, Frank McCourt just doesn't get it.
New Ownership Might be the ONLY Answer
I certainly would like to see Mr. Pujols in a Dodger uniform. When the Dodgers have an owner whose number one priority is winning and whose number two priority is making money off his investment, the Dodgers might win a World Series. As long as the number one priority is making as much money as possible off an investment in the Dodgers and the secondary priority is winning then we as Dodger fans can expect just enough talent and glimpses of potential to keep us interested but ultimately disappointed. The revenue is there — it is just not funneled into payroll.
by RaquelTB on May 5, 2010 10:08 PM PDT up reply actions
"When the Dodgers have an owner whose number one priority is winning and whose number two priority is making money off his investment"
There is not a single owner in baseball that meets that definition. Not the Steinbrenners, not the owner of the Red Sox, no one. The O’Malleys number one priority was to make money – the team was their livelihood.
"The revenue is there — it is just not funneled into payroll."
The problem with the McCourt ownership is that the debt is there too. Too much revenue has to be funneled into servicing debt. It’s no coincidence that the much ballyhooed renovations at Dodger Stadium stopped, er, were postponed – right – immediately after money from lenders tightened up.
The commenter formerly known as El Lay Dave. by David Young on May 5, 2010 10:46 PM PDT up reply actions
The issue is one of emphasis and proportion. The Steinbrenners (and others) have been willing to spend in order to win. They have been willing to take a little less in profit to win it all. Their calculation is not how little they can spend to maximize revenue. This is the difference between a George Steinbrenner or a Mark Cuban and a Frank McCourt. As facts are developed and revealed in the McCourt divorce proceedings, it will be clear that excessive and questionable payments were made from the Dodger organization to the McCourt children and for lavish expenditures of Frank and Jamie. It is a question of proportion and the McCourts were outrageous hogs. Sure they wanted to win but not if it meant making one cent less than they could. It was always a calculation as to how little Dodger fans would accept and still fill the seats, buy the merchandise, etc.
by RaquelTB on May 6, 2010 12:17 AM PDT up reply actions
I love when fans talk about the McCourts like they know them personally
"Sure they wanted to win but not if it meant making one cent less than they could. It was always a calculation as to how little Dodger fans would accept and still fill the seats, buy the merchandise, etc."
What are they your golf buddies?
The fact remains that the Dodgers were a better team when they weren’t spending (2008-2009) then when they signed Pierre, Jones, Schmidt. When Fox owned the team they spent money like it was going out of style, and they sucked. The team has been much better under current ownershipt than the prior regime.
by Michael White on May 6, 2010 8:02 AM PDT up reply actions
I'm a little surprised
that is your defense. We are stuck with this pathetic payroll considering our revenue and it is what it is but saying we are better for not spending our money seems silly. We could have spent our money and had Santana. We could have spent our money and take on others teams contracts who could no longer afford them. Sure Ned spent money foolishly but just because he’s stopped spending money is not a good thing. We could have plowed millions into player development, signed some international players, done any number of things.
The McCourts have numerous children in the LA area, some people are bound to know them, I doubt it is to far fetched that the children did not live any less on the hog then the parents did. I completely agree with the statement you quoted.
by meercatjohn on May 6, 2010 8:44 AM PDT up reply actions
I don’t think the argument is "we are better for not spending money." The point is that a huge payroll doesn’t automatically make you better. I am personally thankful that the Dodgers aren’t following the Mets spending plan.
by prosellis on May 6, 2010 8:56 AM PDT up reply actions
It depends. Stenbrenner has so much money that he can buy his way out of mistakes. The Dodgers don’t. Therefore, the team has absolutely been better since it has re-trenched and stop going for homerun signings.
I don’t know the McCourts, and if somebody does, it would be helpful if they gave some indication of that. Otherwise, I’m going to keep pointing to the scoreboard of the McCourt ownership as opposed to the prior decade. Everyteam wants to win (I would think) yet constantly villyfying the McCourts who have put together the past two year probably the 2nd best team in the NL seems silly. I understand that we are fans of the Dodgers alone but singling out the McCourts as the example of selfish owners who don’t give a shit about the team winning is odd considering that this team actually has been winning.
I’m not sure what’s surprising about my defense as I find the constant bashing of the owners fairly tiresome. There is no context to the points above (McCourt wants to make money, the horror!) so people shouldn’t look to the revenue generator and lack of payroll and assume its the end of the story. The objective is not to spend to a level on par with your revenue. The point is to build a winning and competitive team and the Dodgers under Frank McCourt have done so. You and I would perhaps allocate resources differently (yes it would be nice if more was spent on player development) but the end game would be the same. Our goal would be identical to acheiving the results of the past two years.
by Michael White on May 6, 2010 9:28 AM PDT up reply actions 2 recs
by Eric Stephen on May 6, 2010 9:34 AM PDT up reply actions
Emphasis and Proportion
No one here is arguing that an owner should not expect to make a profit. The "bashing" of the McCourts has to do with emphasis and proportion. No fan base will appreciate a "carpetbagger" who buys a team to milk it for all its worth. Dodger fans are not interested in simply being competitive. After 20 years, Dodger fans (who have supported this team handsomely) want a World Series Championship. Nothing less.
by RaquelTB on May 6, 2010 10:02 AM PDT up reply actions
I was gonna stay out of this fray but I can’t let this comment go.
First, it does sure seem that the McCourts have been using the team as their personal bank account. I have no problem with owners living a lavish lifestyle or even financing that lifestyle by taking profit from the team — it is a private business and it is their right. But the McCourts seem to have done it at a different level and to a greater extent than other owners. is that true?
That said, this sentence I disagree with entirely:
Dodger fans are not interested in simply being competitive. After 20 years, Dodger fans (who have supported this team handsomely) want a World Series Championship. Nothing less.
In my baseball following life, I have already given up on one team, the Red Sox, when its fans adopted that attitude. It became impossible to root for them, and when it did, I stopped.
As a fan, you are owed nothing but the entertainment value of the game for which you bought admission. You are not owed a championship or a competitive team or even players you can root for. It is probably good business sense for an owner to provide some or all of these, but the "fans demanding a championship" thing — that’s what so manuy Yankee fans do, and it’s why so many fans of so many other teams find that kind of Yankee fan obnoxious.
What’s more, I and lots of others were happy with the team as it entered 2010. The squad that won 95 games, best in the NL, was mostly back, save Wolf and Hudson. Sure, they had flaws, but they’d probably be competitive for the postseason. That was fine with me — I was looking forward to a fun season.
That hasn’t been delivered to us, but that’s not McCourt’s fault.
Sorry if this is too harsh. I don’t mean it personally. I’m as tired of the losses as anyone, and I’m tired of the financial position that McCourt has put the team in, and those things are related, but maybe not as quite a one-for-one relationship as you’re suggesting.
The Ultimate Ned's Kind of Guy
by Humma Kavula on May 6, 2010 10:26 AM PDT up reply actions
Not too harsh -- Just a different take
I do not believe that fans are "owed" anything. As consumers, they expect certain things and are willing to support their team if those expectations are not consistently dashed. As a Dodger fan, I WOULD LIKE to have an owner who is not willing to settle for simply putting out a competitive product. There is a warm spot in Laker fans’ hearts for Jerry Buss because he embodies the attitude and approach to professional sports team ownership that serves the interest of the fan. By that same token, Frank McCourt has engendered much antipathy. Dr. Buss has placed his children on the Laker payroll, but at least his children "punch the clock".
Further, I do not think that winning championships is perfectly correlated with size of payroll. There are numerous examples of small market, small payroll teams that have won (or come close) to winning it all (e.g., the Marlins, Devil Rays). When an owner is not astute enough to hire a GM who can make brilliant personnel moves at bargain basement prices, then ultimate success will require a fat wallet.
by RaquelTB on May 6, 2010 11:57 AM PDT up reply actions