TORONTO - Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Don Sutton.
Walter O’Malley, Vin Scully, Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda.
Hall of Famers one and all.
It was not a Beverly Hills P.R. machine when you read about “Dodger-rich tradition.”
And now add the names of Jamie and Frank McCourt to Dodger blue history.
Add them at the end ... way behind Pete Gilbert (.080 batting average), Mike Metcalfe (.077), Barry Lyons (.071) along with Jose Nunez (13.50 ERA), Rick Gorecki (15.00) and Trever Miller (23.14).
What O’Malley was to Dodgers fans in Brooklyn, for moving “dem bums” west, the McCourts are now to Dodgers fans from Torrance and Long Beach to Burbank and Thousand Oaks.
When news broke that the McCourts had filed for divorce on Oct. 15, 2009, I was back in my hotel in Pasadena, having just covered the opener of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The outcome of the game, an 8-6 Dodgers loss, was pretty much relegated to the “in other news” segment of the local 11 o’clock newscast I was watching.
The D-I-V-O-R-C-E was the lead and was followed by reaction from baseball people, the business sector and finally the fans.
A camera crew and reporter had been dispatched to the Short Stop Tavern on Sunset Blvd., interviewing four or five patrons, one of whom appeared sober.
The segment we remember most was the man, dressed in his white TV shirt and wearing a blue Dodger hat, who said sadly: “This is awful, this is terrible, we could wind up like the Montreal Expos. And you know what happened to them?”
It made for a good laugh at the time.
Yet, here are the Dodgers, now being run by Major League Baseball — just as the Expos were owned by MLB in 2002-04.
While MLB owned the Expos, the Dodgers are still owned by McCourt. He’s just not running the team any more.
A thin line. Any profit will go to McCourt.
The final straw for Selig appears to be Fox Television loaning McCourt $30 million US so he could meet the team’s payroll.
Time Warner Cable is trying to romance the Dodgers away from Fox-owned Prime Ticket to its new channel due to launch in 2012. That made Fox think loaning the Dodgers dough was a good idea — but ignored the fact the loan would damage its relationship with MLB, according to the Los Angeles Times.
We thought the man to run the Dodgers would be Stan Kasten, who ran the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. Yet on Monday, former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer was appointed by commissioner Bud Selig to oversee the Dodgers’ business and financial operations.
Schieffer was the Rangers president from 1991-99, originally joining as an investor when the team was purchased in 1989 by a group that included George W. Bush, whose long-term goal was to be commissioner.
When Selig stayed, Bush entered politics.
Can Schieffer add a player’s salary at the trade deadline without phoning the commissioner for approval, as Montreal GM Omar Minaya was required?
MLB told the Dodgers any expenditure of $5,000 or more would have to be approved.
So, go ahead and order a round of coffee, but don’t be bringing in any backup infielders.
The huge difference between the Expos and Los Angeles, is that the Dodgers are not going anywhere.
There is enough money to keep the team there.
There is enough fan interest to make the Dodgers one of the best franchises in the game, behind the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals.
But when will that transpire? What if McCourt sues MLB for taking over operations as has been reported? How many years before the divorce proceedings are finalized?
What kind of mess will the franchise be in when the dust clears?