Dodgers Fans Are Being Played for Suckers – Again
Someone has to say something, and never one to be shy to voice an unpopular take; I guess it will have to be me.
The Dodgers, as we mostly all know, have been playing good baseball, especially the past 7 games. There is pre-summer excitement, of course, as LA sports fans love their Dodgers – well, unless the Lakers are doing well, which they haven’t been for some time. At one point, the Dodgers owned the city. It’s been a rocky time since as Dodger games seem more a diversion, a thing to do, a place to eat soggy, overrated hot dogs and shake to bad pop music at high prices. There are serious Dodgers fans, diehards even, but many of the folks who come through the gate each year are there for a little baseball, but more a warm weather diversion. The fact the Dodgers are always near the top, or at the top, in attendance has a lot to do with the legions of people living in LA and its surrounding areas (just look at the traffic all around LA, if you don’t believe me), as much as an interest in baseball, or more specifically, the Dodgers.
I am fed up with the way this latest bad step parent has treated we actual Dodgers fans, and I know many people who feel the same. In a nutshell, here’s how it seems to have gone…
After decades of family ownership, the O’Malleys decide to sell, partly annoyed with not getting an NFL deal, partly for inheritance tax reasons. They pass this baseball crown jewel to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation.
Fox, not interested in baseball at all, but having eyes on building a Southern California sports presence on TV. Fox hires a desperate to please his new employers GM, who immediately fucks things up, and allows entertainment executives to trade Mike Piazza to Florida, mostly for Gary Sheffield, who they could have gotten for third tier prospects since the Marlins were desperate to unload Sheffield’s contract.
Fox runs the team into the ground, not allowing their better GM – Dan Evans – to spend a red cent. After an underfunded team failed to make the World Series, and having what they came for in terms of a new TV presence, Fox funds a “sale” to Boston parking lot heir Frank McCourt.
McCourt is worse than a faceless corporation – much worse – which would seem hard to do. He and his wife use the Dodgers and the fans for personal gain, bankrupt the team, injure and cripple fans and finally – after a long, painful, disgusting drawn out process, sell the team to a Dream Team “led” by the smiling, familiar face of LA’s own Magic Johnson.
Guggenheim, the financial arm behind all this, makes a plan, fails to win a World Series, changes the plan and along the way, makes a fortune with a new TV deal. The Guggenheim folks, flush with cash, don’t mind that 70% of the team’s fans can’t watch games under the new TV pact and all-Dodgers programming. The money is in their hands, why care?
There apparently is still a need, however, for butts in the seats – after all, why not? $8.5B from the TV deal is sweet, but a massive gate, selling soggy dogs, expensive beer, pricey merch, etc., is nice too. Oh, don’t forget the raised parking prices. To ensure fans will come to games, Magic Johnson, who had disappeared somewhere between plan one and now plan two, pops up to tweet out some nonsense (his intern, I guess, actually does the tweeting – Magic knows nothing about the game or the fans), urging fans to come to the stadium since it’s the best way to watch the Dodgers. He doesn’t mention that it’s the ONLY way to watch. Just days before, actually, Magic tells the LA Times that the team’s brand is strong and there’s no problem with the games not being televised.
You may be a Sabermetrics devotee or love Magic for his great exploits as a Laker, but if you don’t agree this is all bullshit, you’re deluding yourself. The greed is palpable and beyond offensive. As I noted, there are people who just like to go to a game after a long day at work, chug down some beers, hang out, maybe see a celebrity sitting in better seats, etc. But… there are also actual baseball fans, real devoted and long-abused Dodgers fans, who are put into the position of going, paying more, enabling, and helping Guggenheim get even richer, or not see the games at all. After decades of being kicked, lied to, screwed over and dissatisfied, the fans are now told literally to drop everything and come to the stadium to watch a team that in all honesty won’t be the same team, by a longshot, even next year.
This isn’t to argue that the 2015 edition of the Dodgers aren’t good, or are. It’s to make a statement about how fans of the organization have been mistreated for a long time, by multiple owners. It was pretty evident that once Peter O’Malley sent us to live with evil Uncle Rupert, that it wasn’t an ideal situation. Frank McCourt was apparent from day one, for anyone with a brain, as being a phony out of towner who just wanted to parlay “ownership” (Fox funded his antics just to quickly get out of the baseball business – and MLB commissioner and scumbag Bud Selig allowed it to happen) into vast riches. But when the latest owners came in, they used a Trojan horse to gain access to the city and fans’ hearts. Using Magic Johnson was a dirty trick, and selling their ownership as different, and a return to Dodgers greatness, was inaccurate. It’s hard to say they’re better than Fox or Frank McCourt. While not bankrupt, at least games were on TV. That may be a stretch, of course, since under the last owner, it was too dangerous to even attend a game, if you dared. But, you get my point. Another owner, a slicker approach, a familiar smile, but the same horse shit as ever before.
My last article I spoke about how Dodgers fans have been reduced to quarreling with one another – the pro-Moneyball fans, the casual folks who like to chill and hit a beach ball occasionally, and those who are fed up. If you go on Twitter, you will see the bickering left and right. In theory, fans should get along because they’re all supposedly in love with the same team. But data is thicker than water, so the nouveau hotshots point out how longtime fans of the game know nothing – they can’t, it has to be this way for their statistical love to make sense. With everyone fighting, most not getting TV access to games, and now Magic Johnson pulled out of mothballs to tell us how wonderful everything is and how we should hand over our children’s’ college savings to Guggenheim, it’s become unseemly business being a baseball fan in LA.
My hope is that the new ownership group steals everything not nailed down and get out of town like Fox did. I don’t feel warm and fuzzy about the Dodgers anymore and they’ve managed to sap a lot of fun out of what was a seasonal reason for living. Baseball isn’t fun in LA. You can’t come home, turn on a game and relax. You can’t discuss baseball without pro-Andrew Friedman fans attacking you, telling you why you’re wrong. It’s the latest chapter in a 30 year problem that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. It’s why I started Dodger Therapy – a place for fans to talk it out. I try to ignore the jackasses who favor snarky executives and corporate wealth over the average person’s need to have a pleasant distraction. They’re too far gone to save.