It's not that hard to own a baseball team, once you've acquired the fortune it takes to buy one. It can be done by following one simple edict: Try to win the World Series. Sounds simple, doesn't it? That's because it is. If every day you wake up and think, "How can we improve our chances of winning the World Series?" then you're going to be a great owner. George Steinbrenner may have had his warts, but Yankee fans never had to wonder whether winning mattered to their team's owner.
You see, owning a baseball team isn't like owning any other business in town. You aren't allowed to be in it for the money. The money comes when the product entrenches itself into the fabric of the community, which can only happen if the fan base believes that their support is part of the winning equation.
Frank McCourt has never understood this. He bought a beloved franchise that routinely sees over three million paying customers come through the turnstiles each year and tended to it as just another part of his financial portfolio. Players, both free agent as well as trading deadline posibilities, who could have tipped the scales and pushed the Dodgers over the top, were never seriously considered if there was significant cost involved. He appeared to believe that losing in the NLCS in back-to-back seasons was enough to keep the Dodgers' faithful happy. Rather than look for offseason ways to get those last missing links to a championship ballclub, he did less.
Well, Dodger fans aren't so easily fooled. Last season was a joke and this past offseason offered nothing in the way of hope for much better success this year. Seeing Bud Selig step in to change the course of action was a welcome relief for the fans of a franchise that appeared in nine World Series from 1958-1988, but hasn't been back in twenty-two years.
Perhaps it was all those years with the O'Malleys in charge, but there is an unmistakable sense of what being part of the Dodgers is all about. It's Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda, an infield that plays together for almost a decade (Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey). Manny Mota. Not everyone can join the family. Kirk Gibson could, even if he was only here for a couple of years. Guys like Rupport Murdoch, Davey Johnson, and now Frank McCourt, just don't fit in with the Dodgers' tradition.
I'd love to own the Dodgers and bring that next World Series trophy to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I'm lagging behind on that acquiring the fortune part of the deal. Hopefully the guy who shows McCourt the door has the passion needed for winning. Is it possible Bud Selig has lobbed a phone call to Peter O'Malley?