When it comes to Frank McCourt’s legacy, money changes everything

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Sorry that I’m a bit hung up on the Dodgers/Magic Johnson stuff this morning, but there’s something about irresponsible jackwagons falling into $2.15 billion that captures my attention.

Anyway, in the past few minutes I have come across two quotes that just astound me. One is a factual assertion that is totally correct but which misses all that should matter. The second one is plain wrong, but which is something that many will echo at some point because of the way narrative works.  Both of them, then, are distortions of a type, made possible by virtue of billions of dollars being thrown at something.

The first one is from Forbes, where Mike Ozanian makes that factual assertion:

If Frank McCourt’s sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to a group with Magic Johnson as the front-man holds up, he will become the most financially successful owner of a team in Major League Baseball history.

Again, basically correct. But still horribly troubling, no? Troubling in that it makes us realize the tremendous disconnect between what baseball owners are interested in — getting a return on their investment — and what fans and players and everyone else in the baseball universe care about. A broader form of success either from winning ballgames or, at the very least, from an enjoyable product being put on the field or on our televisions, computers and radios.

The second statement comes from Jon Morosi of Fox, who claims that the fans will one day thank Frank McCourt:

A word here about McCourt: Even though he’s walking away with a huge profit — the purchase price was a whopping $2.15 billion; he bought the team in 2004 for $430 million — he is no longer the most vilified sports figure in L.A. The perception that he used the Dodgers as an ATM, along with the reality that he drove them into bankruptcy, will never go away. He never will be liked by Dodgers fans. But he is selling the team to Magic.

From this day forward, when Dodgers fans see Frank McCourt around town, the word before “you” will be “thank.”

I’ll be shocked if Frank McCourt is genuinely thanked by a single Dodgers fan. But I won’t be surprised if his role in nearly destroying what was once the gold standard for a professionally-run baseball organization is whitewashed. If the money thrown at the Dodgers by Magic Johnson’s crew and any subsequent success they have makes people forget just how destructive McCourt’s reign truly was. People will let him off easier. Some may even give him credit for extending Matt Kemp’s contract, maybe.  But he won’t be thought of as the malignant force that he truly has been these past several years.

I have my opinions, obviously, but I try not to be an overly judgmental person. Frank McCourt has made that pretty damn difficult in the past few years, because if there is anyone who deserves a good judging, it’s him.  He’s not gonna get it though.  He’s going to walk away richer than he was when he walked in. He will be admired by some for his savvy.  His transgressions will be ignored by some because of his successor.

It will be yet another reminder that, when tons of money is involved, not much matters but the money.

Must-read: A profile on former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, currently in jail for alleged murders of three men

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Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.

Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.

Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.

Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.

Pedro Martinez: “If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him.”

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On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.

Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:

If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.

Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.

Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.

The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.