It’s happened to every great team. The Yankees had their dry spell in the 1980s, the Celtics in the 1990s, the 49ers in the mid-2000s, the Montreal Canadiens right now. Bad drafting, bad trades, bad signings, bad ownership … one or more of them will come back and bite every team sometime.
For Los Angeles Dodgers fans, the last few years must have seemed like an endless parade of eye-gougings. Lost in the wilderness? They were on a different planet. Owner Frank McCourt’s very public, very messy imploding marriage bankrupted the team and crippled their baseball activities (despite having Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and shoulda-been MVP Matt Kemp, L.A. finished third in their division last year); if that weren’t enough, a Giants fan was nearly beaten to death at Dodger stadium. The damage to one of baseball’s most historic franchises was catastrophic – and it proved to be a real black eye for baseball. America’s second-biggest market deserves better.
The good thing is they got better, real quick. What better person to turn the Dodgers around than the man who absolutely epitomizes Los Angeles sports – the architect of the “Showtime” Lakers and one of the towering figures of 20th century sports, Magic Johnson. Johnson and his partners paid an astonishing two billion dollars for the Dodgers, the highest price for any sports franchise. Ever.
It’s a lot of money, but we all suspect that Magic will get his money’s worth out of that cash. Of course, he can’t fill out the rotation, bat cleanup or bring back James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to run the fast break from the owner’s box and distract the opposing team – but what he will bring to the Dodgers is his astonishing business acumen and a sense of credibility that the franchise had been lacking. Check out this Times article; the man’s been a creative, brilliant businessman since he left the game in the 1990s. He’ll back make all the bucks he laid out for the franchise soon enough.
More important than that, though, is the credibility factor. The first image of Magic’s smiling, jovial face at Chavez Ravine will wipe away all those ugly memories of McCourt and the team’s off-the-field mess. It’s something that Los Angeles deserves, and it’s something that baseball fans everywhere should feel good about; a strong franchise in the City of Angels helps the game immensely.