The Dodgers begin play against the Cardinals in the NLCS Friday night, and the team has replaced the Yankees as MLB’s most “dominant financial power” since Guggenheim Partners bought the team for $2.15B in ’12, according to Brian Costa of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Restraint is “hailed as a virtue” in MLB more than ever, but at “every turn, where others see risk, the Dodgers see opportunity -- and pounce on it with fervor.” They have "benefited from the very pattern they have defied." It was the "failed spending spree in Miami" that in part compelled the Marlins to trade SS Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers in July '12, and it was a "losing, bloated roster in Boston last summer that prompted the Red Sox to unload" more than $270M in salary commitments in a deal that sent 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LF Carl Crawford and two other players to L.A. If the Dodgers "took a risk in acquiring these players, it was a risk they could afford," because in '14, they will "begin a 25-year local television deal with Time Warner Cable" valued at up to $8.5B. It is the "expected revenue from that deal that puts the Dodgers in a different stratosphere than their opponents." The TV-fueled spending is "reminiscent of how the Yankees more than doubled their payroll" between '00-05 amid the creation of YES Network (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/11). However, in N.Y., Tyler Kepner reports despite sporting a $216M payroll this season, the Dodgers do not expect to keep a payroll exceeding $200M "in perpetuity." Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said, "Very soon we will gravitate to a number that is below that, not because we’re aiming for a number but because, organically, we will morph into more of a homegrown team. And as mature contracts get offloaded, they’re going to be replaced, finally, with the farm system that’s producing replacements" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11).
A TALE OF TWO WORLDS: In DC, Thomas Boswell writes the NLCS will feature a "clash of baseball worldviews and a collision of regional cultures." The Cardinals have "always hugged Midwest virtues while the Dodgers loved movie stars in the box seats and star power on the field." But this year, both teams are "such extreme versions of their traditional selves it’s just delicious." The Cards are "drilled in fundamentals and are often greater than the sum of their parts," so they "don’t need superstars." But the Dodgers "have more stars than Orion." Dodgers CF Matt Kemp is out for the season, but "you hardly notice since Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game." Meanwhile, former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke "backs him up and five other Dodgers are playing under contracts" with an average value of over $100M (WASHINGTON POST, 10/11).
NECESSARY BREAK-UP: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck noted Johnson is not returning to ESPN's "NBA Countdown" studio show and writes it "should already have been clear to Magic there was no way he could continue as a basketball commentator while keeping up with all his other professional and personal interests, while adding his role as part-owner of the Dodgers." Johnson was "supposed to be the face of the Dodgers’ new ownership and promised to be at Dodger Stadium every day at 8 a.m. ready to work." He was "supposed to be all in on his grand adventure in owning the Dodgers," so clearing his schedule of a "time-consuming and unnecessary role with ESPN releases him to now give that enterprise more of his attention" (L.A. TIMES, 10/11).