SBD/May 15, 2012/Franchises

L.A. Times' Simers Has Challenging Conference Call With Dodgers' Magic Johnson, Mark Walter

Fans were upset to see Johnson (l) sitting next to McCourt on Opening Day
Details of a conference call between the L.A. TIMES' T.J. Simers with members of the new Dodgers ownership group are featured under the header, "Dodgers' New Owners Appear To Have Hangups About Full Disclosure." Simers writes, "In what was supposed to be the new Dodgers owners' chance to better explain themselves after a misleading introductory news conference, it was a struggle during Monday's conference call even to get an admission that Frank McCourt is not well-liked around here." Among the highlights from the conference call:

*Simers asked Dodgers Chair Mark Walter, "Did you underestimate how fans feel about Frank McCourt?" Walter said, "I don't know if I really had any sense for how fans felt about Frank McCourt. ... I understand there is a lot of negative, whatever word you want to use, towards Frank in that community. I understand that."
 
*Simers told Magic Johnson a "number of fans had emailed to express their admiration for him, but they were upset he sat beside McCourt on opening day in San Diego." Johnson said, "That's what you do when you are buying a business and talk to the previous owner to find out about the company. That's business. OK? That's what I did. I took care of Dodger business. ... He explained a lot of different things I did not know. I'm happy I sat next to him to learn Dodger business."
 
*Throughout the conference call, Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten "frequently interrupted," and "repeated that they're 'not going to reveal personal or private details.'" Kasten said, "T.J. is only interested in Frank; he doesn't care about the Dodgers, the fans or the community."
 
*Simers noted after "living through Fox and McCourt ... people are very suspicious when it comes to Dodgers ownership." Walter responded, "There is a tremendous amount of positive response outside of you."

Simers noted it appeared Johnson "had misled folks or was not aware of the parking-lot lease that will benefit McCourt" as during the ownership group’s introductory press conference, Johnson told the media that McCourt "wasn't going to get a dime." Johnson said yesterday, "I didn't say anything wrong." Walter said, "I believe we said (McCourt) doesn't get any of the revenue from parking, which is completely correct, and he does not get half of that revenue stream. It's just not correct." Simers asked, "So what is correct?" Walter responded, "We're not going to talk about that today. But that's not correct" (L.A. TIMES, 5/15).

MAGIC TOUCH: MLB.com's Ken Gurnick noted Kasten on Friday "held his first team meeting since taking charge." Kasten told players that ownership "will make acquisitions to improve the club and is considering a renovation of the clubhouse along with other updates to Dodger Stadium." When players returned from a recent road trip, they "found that the wives and family room had been renovated." When the Dodgers "reported to the clubhouse on Friday, each player and uniformed staff member found a pair of No. 32 Lakers jerseys signed" by Johnson. One was "personalized for each Dodger, the other autographed so each could be donated to the charity of the player's choice." Kasten said, "I told them that what I needed from them was to reach out to the fans and community. We're going to ask more of them in personal appearances and philanthropy. I told them, 'You know how excited you are to get Magic's jersey? That's how everyone feels when you give them your autograph.' I think they're all-in. I hope so" (MLB.com, 5/12). 

PERSONNEL NOTES
: CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman noted while nothing has been "firmed up yet," signs point to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly "remaining in their jobs ... into next year, and probably beyond that" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/14). Meanwhile, in L.A., Bill Dwyre profiles Dodgers Chief Revenue Officer Michael Young, who was "hired three years ago by the McCourts," and is getting a "chance here because he is smart, articulate and had a successful athletic career." In addition, he is an "interesting story of how a football player can use his brain instead of getting it bashed in." Young said, "I have never seen so many people live and die with a team like I see in Dodgers employees. I'm hooked. This place has a spirit I've never seen before" (L.A. TIMES, 5/15).
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