SBD/August 9, 2012/Franchises

The "New Look" Dodgers Are Making A Positive Impression On L.A.

Ramirez (l) and Victorino were marquee players acquired at trade deadline
The ownership transition from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball Management “hasn’t been perfect,” but as Dodger Stadium celebrates its 50th anniversary, “many longtime observers say the team is primed for a resurgence,” according to a cover story by Daniel Miller of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. With CF Matt Kemp and RF Andre Ethier signed to long-term contracts and serving as the "pinup-ready faces of the organization, the team is poised to solidify its place as the West Coast’s answer to the New York Yankees.” A bidding war for TV rights “is expected between Fox Sports, which now airs games along with L.A.’s [KCAL-CBS], and Time Warner Cable, which signed the Lakers to an agreement last year that could be worth $5 billion over 25 years.” Dodgers President Stan Kasten said that the organization “enjoys a good relationship with Fox Sports, though if a deal cannot be struck, the team would ‘start talking to other people.’” Miller notes Fox will have an “exclusive 45-day negotiating period” starting Oct. 15, though sources said that "preliminary discussions already have begun.” Dodger Stadium also is in need of “changes big and small,” with the changes possibly including a “potential $100 million-plus renovation that might add more kid-friendly amenities, new restaurants and a Dodgers museum.” Meanwhile, after years of former owner Frank McCourt’s “neglect, the organization’s commitment to the on-field product has been apparent.” The team in June signed Ethier to a five-year, $85M extension, and then were "major players in the lead-up to the league’s July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline," acquiring former All-Stars CF Shane Victorino and 3B Hanley Ramirez. Dodgers announcer Vin Scully: “All the other statements were very nice -- you know, a new look. But they did something, and that has made a huge impression in the sports community in L.A. They’ve come to play, but they’ve come to win” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 8/17 issue).

THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER: CBSSPORTS.com’s Jon Heyman wrote everyone in MLB is watching the new Dodgers ownership "with varying parts admiration, awe and fear as the new group attempts to reinvigorate the once-proud franchise and rule the sport.” Guggenheim Baseball's outlook regarding player acquisition “is somewhat Steinbrennerian, though not any of the rest of their methods.” That combination "is proving perfect.” Attendance, "at an average of 41,357 per game," is up 12.6%. Meanwhile, "competitiveness, effort and morale (and spending) are up even more.” Heyman: “Even better, the Dodgers' payroll, driven down to a bare-bones $90 million or so to start [off] the season, already is up more than 20 percent to about $110 million. And counting” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/7).

LISTEN AND LEARN: In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom noted the Dodgers “let it be known they were angry over what they viewed as a serious breach of ethics" by the Cubs in letting P Ryan Dempster listen in on negotiations between the Cubs and Dodgers prior to the trade deadline. The Dodgers “never approved of Dempster’s eavesdropping.” Cubs Exec VP & GM Jed Hoyer has been “denying all of it and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti supposedly got a call to that effect.” Dempster was eventually traded to the Rangers. Rosenbloom: “Credibility and integrity are in the eye and ear of the beholder." But the "appearance of credibility and integrity issues can be as bad as actual credibility and integrity issues." Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and Hoyer "seem to have a problem," as there is "a hole where their reputations used to be” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/6).
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