The Empire Strikes Back: Dodgers Edition
The empire has struck back in the land of Dodger blue. Major League Baseball will oversee all aspects of the business and day-to-day operations of the club in addition to continuing the investigation of the operations and finances of the Dodgers during owner Frank McCourt’s reign.
What does this mean?
“I don’t know,” General Manager Ned Colletti said while the Dodgers were taking batting practice. “I haven’t talked to anyone from Major League Baseball. This is still fairly new. I expect we’ll all be hearing soon how it’s going to play from here.”
How Colletti would like to have it play from here is something similar to the Texas Rangers’ situation last year. MLB took control of the team last year and still allowed trades to occur: the Rangers acquired starting pitcher Cliff Lee, catcher Bengie Molina and infielder Jorge Cantu. They rode that to a spot in the World Series.
“Well the Rangers last year went to the World Series,” Colletti said. “I don’t think this is in place to hinder the Dodgers.”
As for the Dodgers, they must still trudge on with the season.
“As a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, our responsibility is to play baseball and win as many games as we can,” centerfielder Matt Kemp said. “We can’t worry about off the field issues.”
And that’s the sentiment echoed by everyone in uniform.
“It shouldn’t affect us at all,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s still not going to have any control over if we make pitches, or get good pitches to hit, or make plays.”
However one guy in uniform that it affects on an emotional level is catcher Rod Barajas who grew up a Dodger fan.
“You’re a little disappointed that it happens,” Barajas said. “For me this is the best franchise in all of sports growing up in L.A.”
But Barajas emphasized that all of the hubbub surrounding McCourt’s insolvency had no effect on the team.
“[MLB] not going to let the players go home without a paycheck. They’re going to figure out a way to pay the guys what they’re due. If it came to the point where [McCourt] couldn’t meet the payroll, Major L eague B is going to step in and cover it.
“There was never any worry inside this clubhouse about us getting our salary.”
A lot of fans greeted the news of this bloodless coup d’état with jubilation not seen since 1988. However Colletti tempered the emotions within the organization.
“It’s not a good day. When you have turmoil within an organization and when you have a situation like this, I don’t know how it can be considered good.”
At the point things are unsure for the future of the organization although it is an almost certainty that McCourt will not be involved. Whether Peter O’Malley takes control during this transition period; whether McCourt tries to sue MLB even though it is likely he signed a contract upon purchasing the team that prohibits him from doing so; whether Jamie McCourt uses this as a way to wriggle back into the situation.
This was the implosion necessary for the Dodgers to have a healthy future.