The Light in the Tunnel Isn't a Train

Somewhere in this Dodger Land The sun is shining Bright, Fans are Smiling once again And many hearts are light. McCourt said he had done no wrong But Frankie here's the rub, Bud Selig did the proper thing When he took o'er the club.

Howard Cole, of the Orange County Register spoke for Dodgers fans everywhere in his Thursday column. You can read the entire piece at dodgers.ocregister.com/author/hcole/ and we hope he will forgive us for quoting a bit of the story.

"My first reaction: Ding, dong, the witch is dead; happy days are here again, Holy bleep, Batman. and yo ho yo ho, a Dodgers life for me!

"My second reaction: Bud Selig, I could kiss you, and you might as well pucker up right now. You're not getting past me without a big wet smooch. You are a man among men, a real live hero, and are hereby forgiven for the boner that was 1994 – you know, the canceling of the World Series. That little thing. And the tie in the All-Star Game. And steroids. This makes up for everything."

"I'm going to start practicing my cartwheels now. If you don't hear back from me, just assume I tore a hamstring, lost my voice screaming with joy, broke a bunch of fingers reaching for the sky, and am temporarily unable to operate a keyboard."

That speaks for Dodgers fans, not only in Los Angeles, but from every corner of the world where they had been hiding their embarrassment with indifference.

But first love dies hard and although you hoped that the bargain basement assortment of players handed Joe Torre and now Don Mattingly, would somehow fill the bill, the whole thing smacked of the Philadelphia Phillies of the 1930s and 1940s and the pathetic St. Louis Browns.

But these weren't the old Phillies, or Pittsburgh who is attempting to put on a stiff upper lip with a $50 million payroll while clubs are bidding twice that amount for a front-line pitcher.

A long string of cash-strapped general managers have told the waiting media that they are not being constrained but are forced into deals that quickly contradict the statement, such as giving Cleveland their top minor league catcher (Carlos Santana) instead of paying the $2 million owed after the pickup of Casey Blake.

The problem was clearly outlined by the comments of Frank McCourt and his former wife:

Frank: "Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines which all 30 teams must follow. The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines. On this basis, it is hard to understand the Commissioner's action today."

Jamie: "As the 50% owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I welcome and support the Commissioner's actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction for the franchise and for Dodgers fans everywhere."


What tipped the scales in favor of the takover?

The move came directly after a reported $30 million personal loan that McCourt received from Fox that was believed to be necessary to meet the Dodgers' payroll. An indication of how weak McCourt's financial foundation was. McCourt had wanted to accept a much bigger figure from Fox in return for lengthening the Fox television contract but was turned down.

Perhaps it was the brutal beating of Giant fan Bryan Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and McCourt's response that nothing could have been done to prevent it . He scrambled quickly to overcome a statement that was as brutal as the act itself with press releases and media conferences as well as a drive to collect money to help with the fans expenses --mostly too little and too late.

Many fans reacted to all of this much like the Brooklyn fans did when the club moved to Los Angeles. You couldn't dislike the players or the field management but you just didn't want to be a part of the whole thing. You still enjoyed the wins, what there was of them, and the individual performances but you were embarrassed when friends asked you how your Dodgers were doing.

It was left unsaid that they weren't "your Dodgers" anymore.

Jon Weisman pointed out in his Dodger Thoughts: "There will be problems, short-term and long-term, but I don't see much reason to think the Dodgers will be any less capable of making moves to better the organization on or off the field than they were before today. There is a question of whether the next stewards will be good ones, but tonight, I do see the light."

As for the future, an interview with former Dodgers GM Fred Claire by Jim McConnell of the Pasadena Star, gives his thoughts:

"It's a sad chapter of Dodger history," Claire. "But it is also a sign that things are going to get better. When we talk about the Dodgers we're talking about one of the premier franchises in sports, a legendary franchise," Claire said. "So this step by the commissioner is almost unthinkable. But it's obvious that (Selig) is so concerned about the Dodgers that he's taken the ultimate step.

"But, at the core, the franchise is strong enough to weather this. You can't solve a problem until you address it, and now it is being addressed."

Selig will appoint a trustee to run the day-to-day operations of the team. Some have urged that he appoint former owner Peter O'Malley.

"When you hear that, it's a statement of a longing on the part of people to return to the past," Claire told McConnell. "The team was so consistent, so well-run for so long that it's hard to believe it has reached the current state. It's understandable that people would look back to those better times.

"I have no idea who Selig will select. I know if they ask me to go back and help sort things out, I would be glad to do that. I have always felt the Dodgers are more than a business, they are a part of the community. There is an emotional connection on the part of Los Angeles with the team."

O'Malley and Claire -- now there's a winning solution.

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