Steinberg: How 'bout them Dodgers?

Steinberg Says

September 22, 2013|By Leigh Steinberg

Those in the Guggenheim group are heroes in Southern California as the Dodgers defeated Arizona 7-6 to clinch the Western Division title in the National League pennant race Thursday. They promised to bring quality baseball and victory back to Los Angeles after the wretched reign of Frank McCourt and in their first full year of ownership the Dodgers launched an improbable midseason onslaught of victories to reach this point.

The Dodgers have held the heart of Los Angeles sports fans for years. With a set lineup, a beautiful ballpark, Vin Scully and a tenure that began in 1958, they have always marketed the nation's second largest population center like a small town. Straight A nights, Boy Scout nights, Kiwanis nights — it was a special occasion to go to Dodger stadium notwithstanding who the opponent was or who was pitching.

I fell in love with baseball growing up in Los Angeles as a hard-core rabid Dodger fan. From Sandy Koufax and Maury Wills to Steve Garvey and Ron Cey to Kirk Gibson's homer they have been a classic franchise.


Until the dark times.

When FOX traded catcher Mike Piazza it destroyed the set lineup tradition.

McCourt never had sufficient financing to buy the team in the first place. He was heavily leveraged. He allegedly used the team like a piggy bank, fielding mediocre lineups and using revenues to support a lavish lifestyle. Fans began staying away in droves. The drama of the McCourt divorce overshadowed the team's play on the field. He extorted a king's ransom of undeserved profit for mishandling the team when Guggenheim bought them in May of 2012.

Guggenheim paid a shocking $2.15 billion for the franchise and stadium and were widely ridiculed. But they did not rise to financial primacy with rash analysis; they knew they had a rich television market and a beloved franchise that dominated Southern California. And when they turned around and struck a $7 billion television rights deal with Time Warner, their judgment started to make sense. They did not walk away like McCourt with the money. They invested heavily in the stadium and the team.

The Dodgers had a series of injuries and a makeshift lineup of sometime reserves and looked miserable during the first months of the season.

The new ownership had invested a fortune in young Cuban Yasiel Puig and when he was called up he became the most dynamic player in baseball.

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