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


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.

Kris Bryant wants to be Cubs’ player rep, vows to “fight” for next collective bargaining agreement

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Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”

As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”

It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.