Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/4/12
Wednesday marked the dawning of a new era in Los Angeles, a day of celebration as the new ownership group of the Dodgers was introduced in a news conference at Dodger Stadium. The Guggenheim Baseball Partners are the new stewards of the franchise, purchasing the club for a record 2 billion from Frank McCourt. New controlling partner Mark Walter said the chance was too great to pass up. "I viewed it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to own the most fantastic franchise in all of sports," Walter said on Wednesday. With arguably the most famous sports icon in Los Angeles history, Magic Johnson, a partner in the new ownership group, smiles abound regarding the Dodgers. "Believe this: We are going to win again," Johnson told Dodgers fans simply happy to see the end of the McCourt era. Things weren't all bad under McCourt, as the club advanced to the National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009, the only postseason success the Dodgers have seen since winning the World Series in 1988. But a prolonged and messy divorce with wife Jamie McCourt, herself a former Dodger executive, and taking the club into bankruptcy made McCourt a name the new ownership group was reluctant to even say on Wednesday. Walter referred to only to "the former ownership," but the McCourt name was hard to avoid. The fall from grace for McCourt should serve as an instruction to Guggenheim Baseball Partners, as McCourt was once also seen as a savior of sorts, rescuing the team from the tumultuous era of Fox ownership that saw limited success on the field. The new owners got off to a fan-friendly start on Wednesday by announcing that standard parking at Dodger Stadium would be reduced from 15 to 10. New CEO Stan Kasten also announced a way for fans to offer their suggestions to the new ownership -- fanbox@ladodgers.com -- as a way to gain favor with the fans. But ultimately the fans will come to see a winner, something Kasten helped build as president of the Atlanta Braves during the bulk of their run of 14 consecutive division titles. "We committed to build a winning organization, a championship organization, a culture of winning from top to bottom," Kasten said. "For me that has always began and ended with a scouting and player development system. "That was pioneered by the Dodgers in Brooklyn. That's the tradition that we are going to build on and continue." The 2012 Dodgers are off to a great start, atop the National League West at 17-8 through Thursday. But they are not a team without flaws. Outside of the superb starts by Matt Kemp (.411, 12 home runs, 25 RBI through Thursday), Andre Ethier (.287, six home runs, 27 RBI), and 31-year old first-year starting catcher A.J. Ellis (.306 with a .449 on-base percentage and a team-high 16 walks), the offense is filled with below average bats. Someone like third baseman David Wright, who has a club option for 2013 with the New York Mets, could be available this season, especially with the Mets going through financial problems of their own. Kasten said the Dodgers, in addition to building from within, would also pounce on an chance to add payroll and acquire an upgrade this season should an opportunity present itself. "These fans expect and deserve a team that can contend and compete and win now," Kasten said. "We intend to be aggressive with that as well. We're not going to pass up any opportunity. When we can acquire someone now, we're going to do that." Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke at the Wednesday press conference, and counseled the new ownership group. "I have just one piece of advice. Win. A lot," he said. The new Dodgers owners will need to win to keep their goodwill going past this honeymoon period. NOTES, QUOTES Suspension over, Belisario comes off restricted list --RHP Ronald Belisario was activated from the restricted list Thursday after serving his 25-game suspension for violating the MLB Joint Drug Agreement. Belisario, who missed 2011 after failing to get a work visa, pitched in four minor league games in the last week on a rehab assignment, two games each with Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Class AAA Albuquerque. --RHP Mike MacDougal was designated for assignment Thursday to make room on the roster for RHP Ronald Belisario, who was activated from the restricted list. MaDougal had a 7.94 ERA in seven games in 2012 with six walks and four strikeouts. --3B Juan Uribe re-injured his left wrist during batting practice Tuesday in Colorado and missed two games. Uribe received a cortisone injection for the injury that also caused him to miss four games in Milwaukee and Houston in April. --C A.J. Ellis has reached base via hit or walk in a career-high 16 consecutive games. For the season, his .449 on-base percentage ranked fourth in major league baseball through Wednesday. --RF Andre Ethier had six home runs and 27 RBI through 25 games this season. In 2011, Ethier drove in his 27th run of the season in his 58th game, with five home runs at the time. BY THE NUMBERS: .449 -- On-base percentage by C A.J. Ellis through Wednesday, fourth-best in major league baseball. QUOTE TO NOTE: "These fans expect and deserve a team that can contend and compete and win now." -- New Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten, during the introductory press conference of the team's new ownership group.
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