Blog Entry

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

Posted on: January 31, 2012 6:07 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 5:52 am

At least eight groups advanced to the second round of the big Frank McCourt Dodgers sweepstakes. Several of them look like powerhouses. But one of them looks like a winner of the Dodgers from here.

That would be the Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten group.

For one, that group has Magic Johnson. For another, that group very likely will have Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Soon-Shiong isn't Magic in terms of jump shots, fame or even local cache. But in terms of moolah, Soon-Shiong blows everyone in L.A. away.

Soon-Shiong is reported to have $7.2 billion, and sources suggest to me he will very likely join the Magic-Kasten group. I mentioned this on twitter recently, and the Los Angeles Times, which has been all over this story, wrote soon after that Soon-Shoing is mulling over which group to join. That's very likely the way Soon-Shiong or someone close to him wants it played. But he is a close friend of Magic's, bought Magic's 4.5 percent stake in the Lakers (and is believed to be pleased with that purchase) and is a basketball junkie. It's possible he's holding out like Bill Clinton's buddy Ron Burkle, who appears to be waiting to see who's leading before committing. But if the Magic-Kasten group is in it to the end, and they should be, expect Soon-Shiong to join them.

The L.A. Times identified eight of the finalists as the Joe Torre-Rick Caruso group, Connecticut hedge fund magnate Stevie Cohen, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, ex-Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, Stanley Gold and the family of Roy Disney, L.A. real estate mogul Alan Casden and the Leo Hindery-Marc Utay-Tom Barrach group, and I can confirm all of those but the last one. There may also be another one or two groups.

Great list, but even better for McCourt, I have heard the bidding is already in the $1.5-1.6 billion range. That's some serious loot, and means that McCourt, unfortunately and undeservedly, stands to make at least a $1 billion profit. He has run up a lot of debts living like a rich man before he actually was one but will walk away with a couple hundred million. No justice here.

The bidding could get to $2 billion, which is probably more than the storied franchise is worth. But consider all the cash still in the running, and all the competition. This looks like a vanity buy. But these guys are no dummies, so maybe they know better.

If it gets to $2 billion, Cohen would have to be considered a major threat. He is by far the richest guy in the field and reputed to have as much as $15 billion. It doesn't hurt that he has recruited a big baseball name Steve Greenberg, son of Hank, former deputy commissioner and current baseball investment banker, plus respected longtime baseball-basketball agent Arn Tellem. Those were smart adds by Cohen, as MLB likes those guys. Greeneberg has done a lot of business with baseball, including arranging the Astros sale to Jim Crane (though that took a lot longer than most sales). But of course, the big key is the reputed $15 billion. That's a lot of cake Cohen has.

The one issue with Cohen is Cohen himself. He has never been caught in scandal but some of the high-ranking guys at his firm SAC Capital have been picked up for insider trading charges. There's no word he's involved, but it doesn't look good for the firm. I have a friend who knows Cohen and says he's OK. He recalls him as the quirky genius at the University of Pennsylvania sitting in his fraternity in his pajamas and reading the Wall Street Journal. Weird, yes, But disqualifying? Probably not.

MLB is used to having a big say in who gets to own the teams, and in this case they have approval rights over the final eight to 10. You can bet MLB's going to take a close look at Cohen's dealings. There are a lot of rich guys in the bidding, and MLB doesn't want any future issues cropping up. McCourt could try to challenge MLB if it nixes Cohen (or anyone else). But MLB has been given that right. And the clock is ticking. the team is changing hands April 30, so there's little time for legal challenges.

That's one reason I think Magic-Kasten is going to win. They have the money (or they will once Soon-Shiong joins), and no issues. It's all positive with that group. Magic is not only an alltime great athlete, he is beloved. He is also local. And he is a minority, yet another plus. MLB also likes Kasten, who they hooked up with the Nationals after he did a terrific job running the Braves for a long time. They also have Mark Walter from Guggenheim Partners, yet another local rich guy. Then there's Soon-Shiong. He's a wealthy guy who's a genius, like Cohen. But he isn't a hedge-fund guy. He's a biotech genius. That's probably better in baseball's eyes. (And everyone else's, too.)

Mark Cuban and Dennis Gilbert headed groups that didn't quite make the first cut, and there's speculation that it's because Gilbert is close to MLB commissioner Bud Selig. That's not a good reason. Nor was it likely determinative. If anyone's really close to Selig, it's Torre, then maybe Kasten. In any case, while McCourt may be a fool, he isn't foolish enough to eliminate the highest bidders over petty disagreements, or even dislikes.

The Gilbert group, which also contained L.A. money men Jason Reese and Randy Wooster plus talk show icon Larry King, would have made a great choice. But they didn't bid high enough to make the final cut. It didn't help that King publicly ripped McCourt. But again, this is about the loot, not likes and dislikes. Torre was McCourt's manager, and he knows better than anyone bidding what McCourt's about, but Torre is no fool. He isn't about to say what he thinks of McCourt, at least not publicly.

Let's just assume they all think McCourt is somewhere between a goofball and scoundrel, and let's forget about that.

Then know that this guy is about to become one very rich goofball.

Category: MLB

Since: Feb 8, 2012
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:34 pm

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite


So if MLB is ultimately going to push for one group to get the Dodgers over another, why wouldn't they push for an L.A.-based group to get the Dodgers and put the Connecticut-based Cohen, who's reportedly one of the Wilpons' $20-million-per-share vanity buyers, in a position to buy the Mets if the Wilpons end up needing to sell the team, something some people feel is inevitable? I understand the correlation between the bids on the Dodgers and the Wilpons' ability to keep the team (in essence, if the Dodgers go for $2 billion, then the value of the Mets will skyrocket, and the Wilpons will likely be heading straight to their lenders for more money to pay their debts as a result), but if MLB cares so much about ownership groups how can they keep a straight face as they allow the Wilpons to keep running the Mets? It seems MLB would be best served choosing an L.A.-based ownership group for the Dodgers while stumping for Cohen to buy the Mets.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2012 1:12 pm

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

Question: Who allowed McCourt to purchase the Dodgers in the first place ?

Answer: The same people that are going to approve his successor.

Doesn't THAT give you a warm fuzzy ?

O'Malley obviously knows more about owning a successful MLB team, specifically the Dodgers, than anyone else in this group...but if the McCourt decision is any evidence, that will have very little to do with the decision. I'd advise having the IRS dig deep into Bud Selig's finances immediately after the decision. 


Since: Mar 18, 2009
Posted on: February 5, 2012 11:38 pm

Funny You Don't Check Back

Sigma, it's sad that you don't follow up with your own inquisitions.  As such, I will not respond to any of your jibberish after this post, as it seems apparent that your only intention is to attempt to make others look inferior to you (not!!) and to degrade others posting comments that you either disagree with or decide to challenge in your efforts to make others look inferior.  Thanks for all the one star votes, by the way.  I will now spend every waking moment for the next 20 years lowering your reputation, which is truly what you deserve.  If I can, I will convince everyone I come into contact with to do the same.  You are pathetic!

Since: Mar 18, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:26 pm

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

Michael Jordan.  Best basketball player ever, but terrible owner.

Why don't you list some of the 1% where it has worked.  Or really, any of them, for that matter.

Since: Jan 10, 2012
Posted on: February 1, 2012 2:40 pm

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

What a shame that a bum like McCourt is going to run away with a fortune for doing nothing but running the Dodgers into the ground.
Let's just hope that however ends up buying the Dodgers acutally has a love for the game and not just a love for money. 

Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: February 1, 2012 11:48 am

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

people seem to forget that he is not obligated to include the parking lots at the stadium in the deal; he could continue to stick around and collect rent on the lots each year . . .

But, jkaflagg, do the high bids the article reports include the parking lots? I'm assuming they do.

Now that Frank has outsmarted MLB, Dodger fans and whatever rich guys pony up to overpay for the team, I suggest the GOP get in touch with him about a presidential run;

Oh, I don't think so. As you acknowledged earlier, if he'd played his cards right he probably could have gotten such bids without going through bankruptcy--or perhaps even higher bids if there weren't the fire-sale aspect to it. And a guy whose most-famous enterprise had gone through bankruptcy--i.e., a guy who couldn't or wouldn't pay the bills on time without help from that nasty ol' federal government in the form of bankruptcy protection--being thought even facetiously to be someone those hate-the-government Republicans would be interested in for a presidential run: again, I don't think so. 

Since: Aug 4, 2008
Posted on: February 1, 2012 10:40 am

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

I am biased in my opinion as to who should be the new owner for the Dodgers. I want Magic and his group to become the owners. He was part owner of the Lakers. I am sure he had a say in player persona as I know magic is not a wallflower and would want his voice heard.
It would not be bad to have a black man as minority owner or a major league baseball team. How many black men are baseball owners. Though  this is not a requirement, it would be nice to see a black man as a major league baseball owner.

I am equally sure that some of Dr Jerry Buss knowledge about how to run a winning sport franchise rubbed off on him. The fact that he has Stan Kasten in his group make it stronger in my opinion because of his work with the Nationals. Of course there was the comment about what he did in Atlanta. You would have to know the authority he had with the Braves. Because you have the responsibility, does not mean you have the authority.

I am sure he would be given the responsibility as well as the authority to make the Dodgers the best team possible.

My second choice would be the former owner of the Dodgers Peter O’Malley. I am sure he would make a very good owner once again. He would hire the best possible baseball minds in baseball to make the team better. He is a well respected former owner of the team, as his family owned the team in Brooklyn and for the time it relocated to Los Angeles.

I like those two groups because both have long local ties to Los Angeles. I think both would want the team to represent the city well an bring a championship to the city.


Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 10:25 am

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

Don...Rhymes with moron. Wake up dim bulb.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:43 am

Magic, with secret weapon, may be Dodger favorite

Who cares? The Dodgers SUCK!!


Since: Feb 1, 2012
Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:43 am
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