"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Magic Johnson-led group is picked as Dodgers' next owner

When we lived Yucaipa following a transfer of my husband to Norton AFB, we would go to Dodger games when the Reds were in town or if it was special event like helmet day -- we still have the Dodger helmets.  We were there for a long extra-inning game with the Pirates where they stopped selling beer at the end of the 7th inning.  Always wondered if it went one more inning if they would have opened the beer sales back up.  The guy next to us who was a regular said if you want to make sure you have beer for the rest of the game, go buy some before the end of the 7th.  My husband did just that but the game went on so long everyone ran out.  The 7th inning has to be about the biggest sale of beer of any inning in Dodger Stadium.

The Cincinnati Reds were our #1 team and was shocked to see so many Reds fans in attendance at their games with the Dodgers.  That was a great rivalry and as my son said last night -- Reds #1 and Dodgers #2 again.  Loved going to Chavez Ravine to Dodger Stadium.  There was so much history there and now some of those players are coaches and managers. You couldn't beat the Reds/Dodgers series rivalry for the National League when alignment made sense.  I can still see in my mind Johnny Bench coming up to home plate and hitting a home run and then the Reds went on to win the game.  We proudly left the stadium in our Reds gear and the remarks were great game, glad you could come.  I remember the absolute class of Dodger fans in those days.  Haven't been back in years but they loved their Dodgers as much as we loved our Reds.

From the comments on Channel 5 out of Los Angeles last night, the fans are excited.  As one guy said, Magic Johnson is a winner and they have great hope for the Dodgers to make a comeback.  

Baseball is such a great summertime activity to go to the ball park, have a hot dog, some popcorn, or peanuts -- Dodgers had the champion peanut throw for the concessions who would go up and down the aisle selling peanuts and tossing them to the person who bought them -- always right on the mark.  

We lived in the LA area when the Lakes/Celtics were the draw.  Watching Magic run up and down that court with Kareen, Wilkes, Worthy, and the 6th guy off the bench Cooper was AWESOME.  We watched the parade of the Lakers after winning their World Championship and there was Magic with that huge grin of his. Now Magic is a part owner in the LA Dodgers with that huge grin -- that group would have been my choice.

Magic Johnson-led group is picked as Dodgers' next owner 
The group, headed by the Lakers legend known for community involvement, agrees to pay $2 billion for the team. Frank McCourt keeps a small land take. 
March 27, 2012, 10:45 p.m. 
A group led by Lakers legend Magic Johnson emerged Tuesday night as the new owners of the Dodgers, ending months of uncertainty for the storied but troubled baseball franchise. 
Johnson, who guided the Lakers to five NBA championships during the "Showtime" era of the 1980s, is a partner in the group along with longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten and movie executive Peter Guber. The controlling owner would be Mark Walter, chief executive officer of Guggenheim Partners, a Chicago-based financial services company. 
Walter and McCourt met privately in New York on Tuesday, coming to an agreement only hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three final bidders. 
The winning group paid $2 billion for the team -- a record for a sports franchise -- according to an announcement issued jointly with previous owner Frank McCourt
"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise," Johnson said in the statement, adding the new owners "intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section." 
After taking the team into bankruptcy last year, McCourt had sought to retain control of the parking lots surrounding the ballpark. It was announced he and "certain affiliates" of the new ownership will be "forming a joint venture, which will acquire the Chavez Ravine property for an additional $150 million." 
Johnson's group will control the parking lots for Dodgers games and work with McCourt on any future development. 
In the statement, McCourt said the sale "reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community." 
The announcement Tuesday ended three years of turmoil during which the team's performance on the field deteriorated and the front office struggled financially. 
McCourt chose Johnson's group over St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and a partnership of hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen and biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong
The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988, their sixth championship in half a century of O'Malley family ownership. The Johnson group would become the Dodgers' third owner since the O'Malleys sold the team in 1998, following News Corp. and McCourt. 
The sale must be confirmed by the court in a hearing April 13. The transaction is set to close by April 30, the same day McCourt must pay his ex-wife $131 million in a divorce settlement.
If the deal closes as expected, the Dodgers would be owned by an entity called Guggenheim Baseball Partners. Kasten, former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, would run the team. 
"Stan Kasten is my man," Johnson told The Times in announcing his bid last December. "He's a winner. He's built two incredible organizations, and he's well-respected. That is what was important to me. I had to get with a winner, a guy who understands baseball inside and out."
The sales price was nearly three times the previous record price for a baseball franchise, $845 million for the Chicago Cubs in 2009. 
The bulk of the funding to buy the Dodgers came from Guggenheim. Walter is not expected to play a significant role in the day-to-day operation of the Dodgers. 
Guggenheim President Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton were also listed as partners. 
Johnson, who has built a reputation for community involvement since his playing days ended, would own a small stake in the Dodgers, as would Guber, who is co-owner of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. Johnson and Guber are partners in the Dayton Dragons, a minor league baseball team that has sold out 844 consecutive games, an ongoing record in U.S. professional sports. 
Johnson brought five championships to Los Angeles, marrying sports and entertainment as leader of the "Showtime" Lakers in the 1980s. The three-time NBA most valuable player was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, by which time he had launched a business empire that has included movie theaters, banks, restaurants and film production. 
Excerpt:  Read More at the LA Times
Magic is one person who took responsibility for his actions and made lemonade out of a bitter lemon years ago and went on to become an investor throughout Los Angles giving back to the people who given their support to him.  Magic has done so much for Los Angeles and now as he embarks on this new chapter, the Dodgers could not have a better leader out front for the team.  Magic is a winner at life and in everything he does.  Great day to be a Los Angeles Dodger fan.
Magic Johnson is perfect fit for Dodgers
Former Lakers great is the perfect guy to help reestablish bond between the fans and the franchise. 
March 27, 2012, 10:58 p.m. 
Just like that, the Dodgers are credible again, promising again, connected to their city again. 
Just like that, it's Magic. 
Go ahead, Los Angeles, dig out that dusty Dodgers cap and unwrinkle that Dodger Stadium seating chart and shout yourself blue again. Go ahead, it's safe now, after two years in hell your city's most enduring sports team has just been placed in the giant hands of its most enduring sports star. 
A group headed by Magic Johnson has just purchased the Dodgers from Frank McCourt for $2 billion, ending a prolonged nightmare with a soaring slam dunk. 
Mark Walter, chief executive of the $126-billion Guggenheim Partners financial company based in Chicago, will be the controlling owner of a group that will be led by Johnson and directed by longtime respected baseball executive Stan Kasten. 
McCourt sold the Dodgers to Johnson's group Tuesday just five hours after Major League Baseball approved three finalists for an auction. As I wrote in a column that appeared on the Internet an hour before the news broke, Johnson's group was the obvious and best choice over out-of-town billionaires Steve Cohen and Stan Kroenke. 
After successfully boycotting Dodger Stadium enough to convince MLB to run McCourt out of town, Dodgers fans are distrusting and disillusioned, and Johnson's group is the only one with the credibility to quickly bring them back. 
Johnson, whose business acumen equals his former Lakers court sense, will become a full-time team executive with an office in Dodger Stadium and a giant welcoming reach that will stretch to every corner of the disaffected Dodgers nation. Kasten, a traditional baseball guy who built the perennially contending Atlanta Braves from scratch and help shape the surging Washington Nationals, was interested in the Dodgers before McCourt bought the team in 2004 and has long held a dream of restoring them to greatness. 
When I interviewed Johnson in December when The Times broke the news of his decision to pursue the team, he said, "The Dodgers are my next big thing. This is not just millions of my money, this is dear to my heart. This is bringing back the brand for the people of Los Angeles."
At the time, Johnson said his goal would be to bring the Dodgers back to the popularity level currently enjoyed by his former team. 
"When I first got to town [in 1979], the Dodgers were on Page 1 of the L.A. Times and the Lakers were on Page 3," Johnson said. "I've seen how the Dodgers can be as big as the Lakers, and I want that to happen again." 
We know little about Walter and the Guggenheim folks, who will fund their majority contribution from out-of-state insurance companes, but we know that they have convinced Johnson and Kasten that it's not about real estate or television, but baseball. 
In that same December interview, Johnson said he auditioned six prospective bidders before deciding on the Guggenheim group for winning reasons. 
"The first thing I asked Walter was, 'Do you want to win, and do you want to put money in?" Johnson said at the time. "He said, 'Absolutely.'" 
Johnson said the future Dodgers owner says the things you hear from championship owners.
"Listening to Walter talk about winning, it was like listening to Jerry Buss," Johnson said. "He told me three times, 'All I want to do is get to the World Series.' I know great owners, and this guy can be a great owner." 
Of course, once the initial love fest ends, the tough stuff begins. 
The new owners know that Dodgers fans are not a bunch of poor saps on a deserted beach standing around an "SOS" rock formation and waiting desperately for the first ship to save them. They know that Dodgers fans are, instead, huddled and hidden in a clump of trees in the middle of the island, defiant, distrustful, and willing to remain out of sight until somebody shows up with enough smarts and savvy and charm to coax them back home. 
Two billion dollars will buy the new owners no love or respect or even 30,000 folks on a school night in September. Two billion dollars will only buy them two billion questions from the toughest crowd they've ever faced. 
Those hundreds of thousands of Dodgers fans who abandoned Chavez Ravine will need more than simple answers. They will need action, they will need explanation, they will need a group that can proactively reestablish the bonds of this city's most enduring yet most abused connection with a sports franchise. 
In my opinion, they needed Magic. 
On Tuesday night, they got him, and the fastbreak is on. 
Keep thinking back to Tommy LaSorda and Sparky Anderson -- two of the best managers ever.  They were so fun to watch at baseball games as they both were fiery managers.  Those were fun times to attend their games and makes me want to go see a Reds/Dodger game this year.  A lot of baseball fans here in Oklahoma but then we have Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Stargell for starters of players born here plus one of the best high school summer leagues in the Country.  

We used to laugh because when we sent to see a game, Johnny Bench would hit a home run.  Told Dad maybe they should give us free tickets.  I grew up at going to Red's games with Dad and Mom.  My Dad always had the Reds on when they were playing sitting out under the awning of the garage listening to every pitch.  Sports have always been a big part of my life and I owe that to my Dad who raised me on football, basketball, and then his love of baseball and the Cincinnati Reds.  His grandson is just like him on the Reds and sports as a whole.

Remember when I got my first 'real' job at Wright-Patterson AFB and that fall I bought box seats for the family to go see the Reds/Dodgers game in Riverfront.  It was such a great feeling to see my Dad so happy as we were so close to the field and right behind the Reds.  It was a double header and we all had a great time.  That is what it was like to grow up in Middle America where you played sandlot baseball with the neighborhood kids trying to emulate the big league players with a softball.  We lived right across from the school so all we had to do was cut through my Uncle's lawn and we were at a baseball field.

Baseball spring training is in full swing and it will soon be time for Opening Day on the 5th of April.

Congratulations to Dodger fans -- looking forward to renewing the Reds/Dodgers rivalry in the years ahead as both teams to back to the top.  Now if we could get a new Commissioner, life would be great in the world of baseball.  

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