On a cool, crisp, party cloudy Wednesday at historic Dodger Stadium, Wednesday was the day that the city of Los Angeles and Dodger fans across the globe could breathe alot easier, thanks to new ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The three main faces of the new ownership group, Guggenheim CEO and Chairman Mark Walter, new Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten, and part owner & CEO Earvin “Magic” Johnson sat before reporters, city officials, and fans watching on the internet to unveil their plans to revive the Dodger spirit.
The press conference was held in center field. Lots of classic Dodger superstars and ex-teammates were in attendance such as the great Maury Wills, Don Newcombe, Steve Garvey, Tommy Lasorda, and others. It was only fitting that the golden voice of baseball and the Dodgers Vin Scully was the master of ceremonies. The crowd heard from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and councilman Ed Reyes both were excited about the new ownership group taking over the Dodgers.
The sale of the team, Dodger stadium and land surrounding Chavez Revine became official on Tuesday as the group closed its $2 billion purchase, finally ending the McCourts’ terrible eight-year ownership run.
Vin Scully introduced the three main owners in a fashion only he could express “it’s time to meet the group that will bring the Dodgers higher than the Sistine Chapel.”
Magic Johnson graced the podium as only he could with the larger than life personality and bright billion dollar smile, opening with “God is so good, and I know that because, I’m standing here a Dodger owner, wow.” An excited Johnson continued to say that he spoke to the employees, and informed them that it starts with you, excellence travels all the way to the players on the field. He also stressed to the media and the public that this will be a very safe and family friendly environment, and he reminded us all that that this group is totally committed to winning. Johnson was so eager he expressed that he would start working today, but his office won’t be ready until Monday. “Mr. O’Malley, you put pride in the Dodgers,” Johnson said, as he asked the former owner to stand. “What we want to do is bring the pride back to the city and organization. We want to win on the field and make sure the fans have the best experience they’ve ever had.
Johnson also announced that the parking will be cut from $15 to $10 starting with the next home stand on Monday against the San Francisco Giants.
Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley who took over the team for his late father Walter owned the team until he sold it in 1998.
A very elated Stan Kasten former president of the Atlanta Braves, Hawks, Thrashers, and Washington Nationals reassured the crowd, “we’re in a market where fans expect to contend now. There’s this real thing called Dodger pride. As someone who has competed 3,000 miles away, it’s a feeling that doesn’t exist with other franchises. Players feel it the first time they put on their uniforms.” He also stressed that they weren’t going to wait two years, if they have the opportunity to win now, that’s what is going to happen.
“We commented the other day when we spoke to the team that we would build a winning way, a culture of winning from top to bottom. For me, it begins with player development. It was pioneered by the Dodgers in Brooklyn. That’s the tradition we’re going to continue.”
Kasten will be working along side of current GM Ned Colletti with player personnel and other moves to restore the Dodgers to greatness.
A very tall and smiling CEO Mark Walter approached the podium and said he grew up not far from the “Field of Dreams” an Iowa based baseball movie starting Kevin Costner, and called this an incredible happy day. Along with that he thanked his parents for teaching him the value of hard work and love.
Announced March 27 the purchase, was the key element in the Dodgers’ emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Frank McCourt was force to file for bankruptcy last June when he couldn’t meet player payroll, after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig declined to approve a $3 billion agreement between FOX Sports and the Dodgers to extend their television rights. One of the best things Selig did to aid in the process of turning the franchise around.
Scully recognized Dodgers greats Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Tommy Davis, all wearing Dodgers jerseys. Bill Russell, Maury Wills and a collection of stars from the past appeared also.
Jim Hill questioned Magic about how much it meant for his involvement in such a ground breaking franchise like Dodgers, when they brought in Jackie Robinson, and now to break that cycle in ownership. Johnson fixed his Dodger hat, fighting to hold back tears responded “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Jackie Robinson and also all the other unbelievable players we have here.” As he continued maintaining his composer “it’s very emotional. I can’t even put into words how it is. … It’s a great time — loving this community, loving the Dodgers, loving baseball — to be part of this. My wife Cookie is here, my son Andre. My staff is here. We’re going to get it done.”
Mark Walter added “As much as this is a big day for us, we’re very, very happy to be here, this is not about us. This is about the Dodgers, one of the most honored and storied franchises in history. We are passionate about making this organization the best that it can be from every respect, from winning, from its relationship with the community, from all the philanthropic and other things that it can be a platform to help with.
And as always there were a few dumb questions by a couple of reporters, and a very stern Magic Johnson spoke after the questions had already been answered by Kasten and Walter in regards to the involvement of McCourt. “We own it 100 percent, he won’t get a dime for the parking. Now we don’t need to even mention Frank McCourt, we’re here, we should be clapping about that!”
Walter continued to stress that McCourt can profit only from future development, “We don’t have any current plans for development. Nothing can be developed unless we think it’s good for us.”
Following that, a message from Dodger superstars Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp played on the jumbotron expressed how elated they were about the new ownership taking over the Dodgers. Kemp, also reminded Magic he could take him one-on-one in a scoreboard video message, received a response from the great point guard.
“Matt Kemp challenged me, Matt we’ve got to win the World Series first. Ad after that then you’ll get the chance to play me.”
Vin Scully concluded the press conference by saying that this would be the last ownership exchange that would have his involvement.
On that note this was a great day for baseball, Dodger fans, and sports enthusiast alike as we witnessed history, and I trust we will experience more history and ground breaking moves withing the coming days, weeks and years.
*The Guggenheim Baseball Management is the third owner of the team since 1998.
The Los Angeles Dodgers looked to avoid a sweep by the Brewers at Miller Park, something had to change to prevent them from not picking up a road victory.
Dodgers pitcher Aaron Harang who pitched a record setting game at Dodger Stadium last week, answered the call to throw against former Dodger and current Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf.
In the opening inning both Wolf and Harang looked sharp for their impressive clubs, and one knew that this would be another close yet dramatic game as this series has proven to be by the previous two games.
Thanks to a wild pitch by Wolf that hit batter Jerry Hairston Jr, and walked James Loney to load the bases with Hairston and Andre Either respectively at second and third, Wolf had to figure his way out of a jam. After Matt Treanor hit a brilliant sacrifice fly allowing Either to score, and the Dodgers took the early lead 1-0.
Harang got into a bit of trouble as well, with George Kottaras and Alex Gonzalez already on base in scoring position Travis Ishikawa doubled to right center scoring Kottaras.
To further his own cause, pitcher Randy Wolf hit a sacrifice fly to right allowing Gonzales to score and the Brewers took the lead.
Wolf made a huge mistake by letting Kemp single to get on base, then allowed Juan Rivera to to single to right causing the tying run in M Ellis to score. The Dodgers weren’t done as a big time slugger Either hit a good single to right, Matt Kemp scores to take the lead. Wolf gets out of the inning by a pop up by Loney.
Kemp was far from done, after the damage he caused earlier against Wolf, in the top of the fifth it only got worse for the Brewers as he hit a big home run deep to right field his seventh on the year to give the Dodgers some added run support. Harang continued to pitch well, and the Dodger defense held up beautifully, until the sixth inning with Gonzalez and A Ramirez on base, Ishikawa came back to haunt Harang, hitting a single to deep right, scoring Ramirez.
With the Dodgers only leading by one run in the eighth inning, Hairston Jr. made a key defensive play at third base with a runner on third and two outs. Hairston dove to grab a sharp ground ball by Gonzalez then made a long throw to first base from an awkward angle to get the out and end the inning.
After pitching strong innings, reliever Jamey Wright came in to pitch for Harang, and the bullpen held up along with the spectacular defense of the Dodgers to hold on for the win. Reliever Javy Guerra picks up his sixth save on the season as the Dodgers get a much needed win and go to 10-3 on the season.
NL MVP Ryan Braun was a total 0-11 in this three game series, and struck his on his two final at bats at Thursday’s game.
Brewers’ Wolf (now 0-2) went six innings, giving up four runs and seven hits with a walk, a strikeout, while Dodgers’ Harang went six innings, gave up three runs and eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly talks about his team’s key win “Its a fairly significant win. Really, we came in and could have got swept but we could have swept them just as easily.”
On how concern his MVP Ryan Braun didn’t show up in this series Brewers manager Ron Roenicke stressed that “Braunie, we’ll get him going real soon. He’s been playing a bit under the weather.”
On his performance thus far beyond this series, a very humbled Matt Kemp said “I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing, driving in runs, trying to help my team win,”
Now the Dodgers head down to Houston for a weekend series with the Astros, the Dodgers send Ted Lilly to mound to battle J.A. Happ on Friday.
Wednesday, was the night many waited for including the family of Clayton Kershaw, the presentation of his 2011 Cy Young Award. In attendance were also Clayton Kershaw’s wife Ellen and family, along with former Cy Young winner Fernando Valenzuela. Valenzuela received a much deserved standing ovation from the Dodger fan crowd, as did Kershaw when he raised his award up in celebratory fashion.
The 27 year old right hander Chad Billingsley was lights out the first two innings, Pirates pitcher Erik Bedard also kept the Dodgers scoreless.
In the third inning Billingsley seemed to lose some focus as he gave up a home run to Clint Barmes out in left field for the Pirates to take the early 1-0. Billinsley seem to maintain his composer enough to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Bedard walked M Ellis, allowed Matt Kemp to single to second causing Ellis to move to second base. Juan Rivera steps up and hits a big single causing Ellis to score and tie the game 1-1.
The Dodgers continue to give Billingsley more run support as Kemp singled to left center off Bedard in the sixth inning. Rivera reached on an infield single moving Kemp to second. Andre Either slugged an RBI single, causing Kemp to score and capture the lead 2-1.
In the eight inning Tony Watson came in relieve, but quickly gave a double to Gordon. Watson was replaced by Meek who didn’t couldn’t be worse as he gave up hits to Rivera and Tony Gywnn Jr to extend the Dodger lead 4-1.
Guerra relieved Jensen in the ninth to record the save and secure the victory for the Dodgers. Billingsley struck out five, no walks and one home run to remain perfect at 2-0.
Andre Either spoke about the solid performance of his pitcher, “He really trusts his stuff. He’s pounding the strike zone and making guys miss. And when he gets in a jam, he figures out a way to get out of it — either with a big double-play ball or by forcing contact with a guy and coming out on top. It’s nice to play defense behind him because there’s not too many balls hit to you.”
Bedard gave up two runs and eight hits in five-plus innings and only struck out three in the loss. He has yet to win a game this season, after suffering his first loss at the hands of Roy Halladay.
*50 years ago the Dodgers played their very first night game in Dodger Stadium. Jim Gilliam hit the first home run on April 11, 1962.
LOS ANGELES – The dawn of a new era starts in the city of Los Angeles, Major League Baseball (MLB), and amongst Dodger fans across the nation. The most hated man in Los Angeles, Frank McCourt who purchased the Dodger back in 2004 for $430 million from FOX’s NewsCorp has chosen a new owner. Over the years the McCourts have ruined the historic franchise that began with the O’Malley family from the days in Brooklyn. Through the divorce drama of Frank & Jamie McCourt, the savage beating of San Francisco Giants fan Brian Stow, and fans boycotting by not appearing at games. Many of us never thought this day would come soon enough. The Dodgers hadn’t had the lowest attendance in the league since 1992.
On Tuesday those dark days would become bright again, as it was reported that Frank McCourt sold the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Guggenheim Baseball Management group. The group includes Mark Walter, former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, Mandalay Bay CEO Peter Guber, and former Los Angeles Lakers star and businessman Magic Johnson. The group purchased the team for a reported $2 billion dollars, the highest amount in North America for a sports franchise.
Greatness has truly been restored to the Dodger image, as well as to the millions and millions of fans waiting for this day.
Having Magic Johnson being apart of this ownership group was absolutely genius. Not only being a successful businessman, a five time NBA world champion, Magic has always had the insight to make things better. Along with being a long time Dodgers fan, he is the first black owner in MLB history. More than 60 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier back in 1947, the Dodgers have always been groundbreaking. From acquiring a jewish pitcher in Sandy Koufax, to tapping into the Latin American market bring us Fernando Valenzuela “Fernando-Mania”, Ramon Martinez, to going into the Far East of the world that brought us the pitching sensation Hideo Nomo.
The Dodgers have always knocked down barriers both racially and economically. It will take the Dodgers some time to get everything situated and planned out, but the future looks very bright and promising for this franchise.
Stan Kasten has stated that the people who are in upper manager such as GM Ned Colletti will remain in place, and trust that they are doing the best job that can be done in their respective positions.
With the agreement of the bankruptcy judge, the selling of this team, McCourt will be able to pay off debts. Which consist of his ex-wife’s divorce settlement of $131 million, paying off debts accumulated during the his ownership tenure will bring the Dodgers back into the positive financially.
Although McCourt does retain 50% of the parking lots and land at Dodger Stadium, the new ownership would acquire the land surrounding the stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million. There will come a day where McCourt will be a distant memory in Los Angeles, and have no ties to the team, parking lots, land or anything else. McCourt will walk away from this deal with over $600 millions dollars.
For Commissioner Bud Selig, the purchase of the Dodgers by the Guggenheim Baseball Management Group that includes Magic Johnson, just elevated his legacy into the stratosphere. When Selig retires from being commissioner on his resume, he can clearly state he was the one who brought back the Dodgers back from a relic and made them relevant again.
Also history was made on his watch by Magic Johnson being the first black owner in Major League Baseball.
With McCourt now out of the way, Selig has realized all is right again in baseball land again. The group should be officially in place by April 30th. Magic has said he’ll have an office at Dodger Stadium, but will remain out of the way of what he calls “the baseball guys” such Stan Kasten and others.
The moment of free agency, look for Magic Johnson to be recruiting players as only Magic can, with passion, enthusiasm, and that award winning smile.
With the 50th Anniversary of the Dodgers playing at Dodger Stadium this year, this news couldn’t have come at a better time.
Mr. Walter O’Malley can rest easy, as the historic franchise he worked so hard to build and maintain through out the years is back is great hands. Hands that will continue the team into greatness for many years to come.
Is Major League Baseball ready for Black ownership, I would say, they are on the right track. Tuesday’s groundbreaking announcement could potentially open doors for other teams to allow other black businesspeople to be apart of MLB at the ownership level.