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Who’s Gonna Buy the Dodgers?

SPORTS BUSINESS - I am submitting a bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers before it is too late.
Why? Because I have been seeing all those other potential buyers out there looming just beyond the gates of Stadium Way like Wal-Mart shoppers prepared to pepper-spray any bastard who gets in their way. It is buy or die.
Now that the People’s McCourts case is all but closed, I have decided that I too want this community property of theirs and will go to any length to make it mine. Oh, I might look unqualified to Major League Baseball’s naked eye—I’ve never owned a Massachusetts parking lot or anything—but I do own a minority stake in Class A ball’s Yakima Bears, a minor-league affiliate of the (boo, hiss) Arizona Diamondbacks, so I may very well have more moneyball acumen than that Harold & Kumar Buy a Baseball Team comedy act of Frank & Jamie.

You ask, “Mike, can y  ou afford this?” I can. I have more money than Greece. I am too big to fail. I have more than $400 in my 401-K, which is more than anybody at American Airlines or Tribune Company can say.

Here is a 25-man (or so) Dodger-bidder roster I have been able to assemble thus far. (I say “man” because to my knowledge no woman has yet come forward seeking to follow in Jamie McCourt’s red Louboutin-soled footsteps as our resident queen of diamonds.)

—ELI BROAD. I see Eli’s name bandied about, mainly because the Dodgers could cost you in the neighborhood of $1 billion, and Eli resides in this neighborhood. I haven’t a doubt that Eli’s got a billion bucks—and I mean on him. If he wants to bid jointly, Eli and I together could come up with upward of $1,000,000,500.

—RON BURKLE. I see Burkle’s name bandied about, because anytime anything on the West Coast is for sale, Burkle’s name gets bandied about. When I worked for the L.A. Times, there was a rumor that Broad or Burkle might buy the L.A. Times, a rumor I believe was begun by the L.A. Times. I know that Ron is co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, so perhaps he prefers having pucks to having balls.

—OREL HERSHISER. Dubbed “The Bulldog” by Tommy Lasorda back in the ’80s before nicknames like A-Rod and J-Lo came along. (“O-Her” would have sucked.) “I have seen Orel Hershiser sit at a gambling table with $5,000 in his pocket and seen him wager the whole thing on one hand of baccarat,” the old catcher Rick Dempsey once told me. “He’s not afraid of anything. He’s a gambler. He’ll go for broke on one pitch.” I approve of an owner who goes all-in. Frank McCourt was more like none-in.

—STEVE GARVEY. Steve’s got guts. This is a man who had the courage to wear a 1984 San Diego Padres uniform in public. I have seen better-looking costumes on rodeo clowns. I’d prefer the clam-digger shorts worn by Bill Veeck’s White Sox. Of course, the Dodgers will require cash.

—PETER O’MALLEY. Dial O and there he is. Out of the past. Back to the future. He’s the son of Walter O’Malley, who brought the Dodgers from Brooklyn to the West Coast in 1958. He would lend the organization a lot more class than subsequent owners have, with their promotions like “Manny The Overpaid Steroid User Bobblehead Night” or the more recent “Beat A Fan Into A Coma Night.”

—MARK CUBAN. The mayor of Los Angeles has publicly implored the Dodgers to sell only to someone with L.A. ties. Mark Cuban is to California what whale watching is to Iowa. He is a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball fan, a Dallas Mavericks basketball fan, and a man so refined that he changes T-shirts before verbally abusing a game official from his seat.

—DENNIS GILBERT. Dennis sits behind home plate. I know this because anytime I see a home game on TV, I say, “Well, there’s Dennis Gilbert again behind home plate.” To which my wife responds, “Who is Dennis Gilbert?” I then explain for the 10,997th time who he is. A former agent. A baseball associate of Jerry Reinsdorf’s. A guy who did magic tricks for me around a batting cage once. A fine fellow in my book.

—MAGIC JOHNSON: Only Mr. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr., a young man of humble origins from Lansing, Michigan, son of an assembly-line worker and a school custodian, could one-up Lakers owner Jerry Buss by buying the Dodgers and bringing Showtime to the ravine. I can tell you this much: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is going to look truly cool in his uniform out there swinging a fungo bat in batting practice.

—JOE TORRE. “Who knows? It’s certainly something you’d have an interest in,” Joe recently non-responded to The New York Times. Joe Cool, that’s him. He survived working for George Steinbrenner, which was like being designated whipping boy for the Marquis de Sade. Joe would make a superb Dodger boss. He might even model his ownership methods on Steinbrenner’s, wildly overpaying players and firing Don Mattingly five or six times.

—FRED CLAIRE. Fred was general manager when the Dodgers were victorious in 1988. The franchise has racked up zero championships since 1988. I am partial toward Fred because he was once a struggling young sportswriter, just like me, and now apparently can make a few calls to raise a billion dollars or more, just like me. I know he always has the Dodgers’ best interests at heart —plus, he never would have traded Mike Piazza.

—LARRY ELLISON. He is a billionaire, trillionaire, Zuckerbergaire, or whatever comes next. He owns the Oracle Corporation, which, for all I know, makes oracles. He also made a bid to buy the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. I would rather own a condo in Chernobyl than own the Golden State Warriors. They couldn’t beat the Lakers in a seven-game series if it was five of them versus Kobe and four Laker Girls.

Others whose names have surfaced, fairly or un, include the L.A. Marathon’s frontman, Bill Burke, who is said to have big yuan from China behind him; Larry King, the longtime TV talk-show host, who ought to get back on TV so we won’t need to endure Piers Morgan; businessmen Alan Casden and Alec Gores, whose names I found in the Times in a Steve Dilbeck blog; and actor Ashton Kutcher, which is a totally made-up rumor that you should tweet.

Other people’s money could come from Warren and Jimmy Buffett, Bill and Dr. Conrad Murray, Snooki, the Situation, Jay-Z, Ice-T, Kenny G, the guy from TMZ, the Ruth Madoff family trust, the Winklevoss twins, the E-trade baby, Metta World Peace and his wife I Heart World Peace, Kanye and Jerry West, Barry and Phyllis Diller, the town council of Bell, three of the real housewives of Beverly Hills but not the one named Vanderpump, 50 bankers from bankrupt banks who each have a $50 million bonus due, and, of course, me. You could do worse. (You have.)

(Mike Downey is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times. This column was posted first at zocalopublicsquare.org) Photo courtesy of srd515.

Tags: baseball, MLB, Dodgers, LA Dodgers, Los Angeles, Dodger owners, Frank McCourt, Magic Johnson, Joe Torre, Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, Orel Hershiser, Steve Garvey, Peter O’Malley, Mark Cuban, Dennis Gilbert

Vol 10 Issue 2
Pub: Jan 6, 2012