Remember a few weeks ago when NBA czar David Stern blocked the Lakers acquisition of Chris Paul? Stern took heat from everyone for basically playing general manager of the of the New Orleans Hornets. And rightfully so. The NBA was in a precarious position because they actually own the Hornets. Well, it's not a league ownership issue, but, still, the veil is thin for Major League Baseball. Joe Torre, the Vice President of Baseball Operations, ie. Bud Selig's top assistant resigned his post with the MLB office to pursue ownership of the LA Dodgers. Nothing to see here, move along, right?
On the outside, this looks like a good move by Torre. He's never been one to be someone's assistant. He's a leader at heart. And he did manage the Dodgers from 2008-10, after he left the Yankees. So you can imagine he has an actual interest in owning a team that he is familiar with.
Then there's the other side. A MLB executive resigns to join a group that wants to buy a team MLB is running. David Stern approves. Part of me wants to think, wants to know, really,
that Torre's ambitions here are legit. Torre has always been a standup guy, as far as I'm concerned. The other part of me hopes this is some orchestrated take over by Bud Selig, so he can be tossed out on his rear.
Think about it. Torre, as an executive at MLB's offices, probably has inside knowledge of what it would take to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt. Or more or less, what would be needed to appease other baseball owners as part of a group to buy the Dodgers? Whether or not this is some giant conspiracy remains to be seen, but it cannot help but look shady for Selig and baseball.
Unfortunately, at least from an entertainment value, there aren't any Mark Cubans in the baseball ownership fraternity. And that's the rub with any major sport. Even if you have the money, other owners have to approve of you. It's like the most exclusive country club ever. That's why I seriously doubt Torre's bid will get the scrutiny it rightfully deserves. He's already a member of the club.
And what about other groups? NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson is part of a competing group trying to buy the Dodgers. Is Selig trying to block a basketball guy from being an owner of one of baseball's flagship franchises? Johnson is part of a group that is backed by Guggenheim Baseball Management. They have over $125 billion (with a B) in assets, so I seriously doubt money is an issue, as it was with McCourt. Unfortunately for MLB, they found that out too late. The group that Torre is a part of includes real estate developer Rick Caruso. Ah, the ol' real estate developer. Real estate developer rhymes with Frank McCourt in case you haven't heard. With Torre the face of the bid, that will take heat off other members of the group, if needed.
If you are MLB, wouldn't you rather have an owner with deeper than deep pockets right now? Especially considering the mess the Dodgers are currently engaged in? Johnson's group, if the financials are true, sounds like a home run. Although not a baseball guy, Magic Johnson is a LA guy, and that should count for a whole lot right now. McCourt was not, and is not a LA guy. He's from Boston, and had originally tried to buy the Red Sox. He just wanted to be in the frat, no matter the chapter.
I hope, for the sake of baseball, that everything here is on the up-and-up. If not, the McCourt saga will be mild by comparison. And the only thing Selig will do is shrug his shoulders and straighten his comb-over. Book it.