Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MAGIC JOHNSON (and a bunch of rich white dudes) BUYS THE L.A. DODGERS!!!

The news came out late last night, late enough to make it seem like one of those smokey backroom deals. The ownership group fronted by Magic Johnson- but including longtime baseball man Stan Kasten, movie producer Peter Guber, and ominous-sounding mega-corp Guggenheim Partners has agreed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers off of Professional Villain Frank McCourt. They paid over $2 billion for the team. Magic is great and all, but tell me this "Guggenheim Partners" thing isn't trying to weaponize Dodger Dogs. Just try to tell me that.

Anyway, fun fact here is that Magic Johnson will be the first African American owner in Major League Baseball. Just how much control he'll get to exert is an open question; presumably, Stan Kasten will make the baseball decisions and Guggenheim Partners will handle the money (as well as silence any potential whistle-blowers). But he's the first to even be the public face of a team's ownership, as near as I can tell.

One can't help but notice that the first African American owner in baseball had to be accompanied by an experienced baseball man and $2 billion dollars. And yeah, he had to be Magic Johnson- absolutely beloved in his city and an HIV survivor who dragged the country, kicking and screaming, into broader acceptance of the disease. And on top of that, he's also become a rather successful businessman. That's a hard guy to say "No" to, and I don't think every African American owner needs to be quite so exemplary. It's certainly true that every white owner isn't.

Still, this is MLB ownership, the most insular and out of touch club on the planet. These are the guys who let it be known- and by the way, these are the guys who never say anything, they just "let things be known"- that they'd keep Mark Cuban out of baseball simply because he'll criticize things he doesn't like. So, baby steps here, people.

(Accuracy demands that I point out that the sale isn't final yet, and the MLB hasn't approved, but that feels like a formality at this point. With Kasten there, MLB likes this group very much).

One more thing: Frank McCourt, the Dodgers' previous owner (or still current owner, I suppose), bought the team for $430 million in 2004. He was an absolute disaster, and marched the team resolutely toward bankruptcy. As we've discussed before, just an utter shitheel. And for his troubles, he's going to get $2 billion for the team.

If any of you Dodgers fans want to go all Occupy Chavez Ravine this summer, I'll understand.

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