I understand that enthusiasm about Magic Johnson’s ownership group buying the Dodgers. Frank McCourt is leaving. Magic is awesome. L.A. loves him. The Dodgers are in the pits. He shall save them. Woo-ha!
But I think it’s possible to blow this up a bit too much.
For one thing, Magic is not the controlling owner. That’s a man named Mark R. Walter and a company called Guggenheim Baseball Management. Magic is pretty rich himself and likely has a lot of his own money in the game, but let’s remember how quickly the nominal head of the Texas Rangers ownership group — Chuck Greenberg — was cast off after that team was sold. No, I’m not saying the same thing will happen to Magic, but let’s not pretend that he is totally in control here. There are a lot of chefs, and if they don’t want to do what Magic Johnson wants to do, they’re gonna win.
For another thing, this is a huge amount of money being invested in the Dodgers. So much so that, no matter how optimistic the projections are regarding a TV deal and future revenues are, there are likely to be some financial restraints in play, aren’t there? I mean, you can’t spend $2 billion on a team and then expect to have no limit on payroll, can you? The current Yankees ownership group invested something like $10 million originally, they have higher revenues and even they have a budget.
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here. It’s great that Magic Johnson is buying the Dodgers. He’s the perfect man to invigorate the fan base. And of course, it’s great that Frank McCourt is leaving.
But this is still a business. Thanks to McCourt, it’s still a franchise that has to do a lot to bring the people back to the stadium and fix the product on the field. So hold off on the champagne and wait and watch what the new owners do before popping the corks.
Based on his track record so far I don’t think Tim Tebow deserves to play in the major leagues on the merits. Not even close. But then again, I’m not the general manager of the New York Mets, so I don’t get a say in that.
Sandy Alderson is the general manager, so his say carries a lot of weight. To that end, here’s what he said yesterday:
Noting the Tebow experiment has “evolved” into something greater, general manger Sandy Alderson on Sunday said, “I think he will play in the major leagues.”
To be fair, Alderson is pretty up front about the merits of Tebow’s presumed advancement to the bigs at some point. He didn’t say that it’s because Tebow has played his way up. He said this:
“He is great for the team, he is great for baseball, he was phenomenal for minor league baseball last year. The notion that he should have been excluded from the game because he is not coming through the traditional sources, I think is crazy. This is entertainment, too. And he quietly entertains us . . . He benefits the Mets because of how he conducts himself. He’s a tremendous representative of the organization.”
I take issue with Alderson’s comment about people thinking he shouldn’t be in the game because of his background. Most people who have been critical of the Tebow experiment have been critical because there is no evidence that he’s a good enough baseball player to be given the opportunities he’s been given. I mean, he advanced to high-A last year despite struggling at low-A and he’s going to start at Double-A this year in all likelihood despite struggling in high-A. If he does make the bigs, it will likewise come despite struggles in Double-A and maybe Triple-A too.
That said: I don’t mind if they promote Tebow all the way up as long as they’re being honest about why they’re doing it and aren’t trying to get everyone on board with some cockamamie idea that Tebow belongs on the baseball merits. If they do put him in the majors it’ll be because he’s a draw and a good promotion and because people generally like him and he’s not hurting anyone and I can’t take issue with that.
That’s basically what Alderson is saying here and if that’s the case, great. I mean, not great, because Tebow in the bigs will likely also mean that the Mets aren’t playing meaningful games, but great in the sense of “fine.” Baseball is entertainment too. No sense in pretending it isn’t.