Thank you, Christopher Columbus! Your pals, the Indians.
The world is full of bad sports journalism. There used to be an entire site devoted to it, but the guys who wrote it stopped because they were too busy doing things like developing NBC sitcoms. Sheesh.
As a college student I loved reading the L.A. Times, but it’s the home to an awful lot of bad sports journalism these days. Most specifically, they pay Bill Plaschke, the worst sports columnist in the world. (Yes, folks, I did include Jay Mariotti in that sample.)
But here’s a piece by someone else, Bill Dwyre, that takes the cake.
On the day after he won the war and gave the Dodgers back to Los Angeles, Bud Selig took on an entirely new persona.
Toast of the town.
Now I admit, Frank McCourt is about as bad an owner as you could invent. And he has been forced to sell the team largely because MLB and Bud Selig pressed the issue. This much is true.
As of early evening Tuesday, there was no deal to have Frank McCourt agree to sell the Dodgers at auction. But in New York, negotiations were percolating.
And where was Selig? He was sitting in a banquet room at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, there to make the keynote address at a function sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America, Los Angeles Council. It was called the Good Character Gala, and Selig’s topic was “Character, Leadership and Values.”
Could it have been more fitting?
Maybe a little. In that Bud Selig’s motivation to “save” the Dodgers was largely because, should McCourt have succeeded in strip-mining the franchise, the value of his industry and the value of all his owner bosses’ franchises would also have dropped.
But also in that Bud Selig was the guy who approved the sale of the Dodgers to McCourt in the first place!
There were warning signs all around McCourt. He was rejected as an owner of the Red Sox. His finances were questionable. He was highly leveraged. And despite all that, Bud Selig, the steward of the game who shows Character, Leadership, and Values decided to push McCourt as owner.
“There comes a time in your life as commissioner,” he said, “when you have to do things, even when there is no great percentage in the certain result. I did what had to be done. It was a gamble I had to take.”
What a gamble! The delightful Jonah Keri details how delightful at Grantland:
But the issue really is a national one, with McCourt’s malfeasance throughout his years owning the Dodgers threatening to have an impact that extended well beyond Southern California. Had Major League Baseball not stepped in, a dangerous precedent would have been set: Convince the league to let you buy a team, and you can do anything you want to it. Anything.
Basically, Selig had to step in. He was not a hero for doing so. He was doing his job. And cleaning up the mess he made himself. Keri again:
From the start, it was clear that McCourt didn’t have anywhere near enough money to buy the Dodgers; at the very least, he didn’t have the will to spend it. Instead, he bought the team using $421 million in debt. In a sense this is really MLB’s fault, more than McCourt’s: Baseball’s owners will raise holy hell to prevent a new owner from buying into the club if they think he might shake up the status quo. They apparently have no such qualms about owners violating the debt-to-equity ratio limits that are supposed to protect the league from financial disasters.
Bud Selig and MLB saddled the Dodgers with a terrible owner who almost destroyed their baseball team, but at the last minute when there was no other alternative, they made the moves that were required of them.
Back to Dwyer’s cow patty:
“The Dodgers are a great franchise, have been a great franchise,” Selig said. “I expect the sale process to be vigorous, with multiple bidders.”
Indeed. And for that, Los Angeles clinks its glasses to the man of the hour, Bud Selig.
Yes, let’s let the people of Los Angeles clink a glass for Bud Selig. What a hero.