The Los Angeles Times has been amusing itself and its customers the past few months or so with the travails of the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fun-couple ownership problems, but we suspect the Times may be missing the real story here.
Namely, the introduction of a new ownership group for the team headed by Charlie Sheen.
|Charlie Sheen couldn't be any more of a train wreck than Frank McCourt. (Getty Images)|
More quietly, though, Dodgers kinda owner Frank McCourt has just been refused permission to float a $200 million loan from Fox that would keep him in capital but lower the value of the team in case of the inevitable sale.
Refused, that is, by Bud Selig, the commissioner of All Owners. For the details, see the Times link.
McCourt, as we know is engaged in a divorce proceeding/asset distribution with his wife Jamie that makes the Battle of Antietam look like a teenager's first attempt at foreplay, and the Dodgers are so crippled that they can barely get permission to order baseballs.
Frank has no money, so this is pretty much his only way to keep his head above the battery acid without actually selling the team, which he vows not to do.
But in trying to loan out chunks of the operation to Fox, which would get an extension of its TV deal with the team, he has to get permission from Selig, who is giving every indication that he would just as soon let McCourt starve outside a restaurant to be rid of him.
And since we know that owning a baseball team is not currently in fashion with the cool rich kids (that's where European soccer and the NBA come in), we can only assume that they're trying to grease the skids for Charlie.
There are actors who love the game, but most of them seem either to love the Yankees or Red Sox. There are some rogue celebrities who like other teams, but none of them look to have the kind of will, let alone the kind of jack, required.
Now we don't know if Sheen has the will or the jack either, but we do know he is making Major League 4, or some filmed derivative thereof, and has gone to the length of inviting Giants closer Brian Wilson to the Sheen manse last weekend to discuss the project.
And maybe he would like the Dodgers to be the new version of the Cleveland Indians of the movies, owned by a serious nutcase who wants nothing more than to use the team to enrich ...
Hey! Plot point!
We know Bud would never contract the Dodgers, for the same reason he wouldn't contract the Kansas City Royals. One does not cross the wealthy and live to tell the tale. But he has in Sheen someone who would at least make the Dodgers more stable than they already are, because the only thing less stable than the Dodgers ownership in its current state is a solar flare.
The Times, and to a slightly more hilarious level the blog DodgerDivorce.com, has been monitoring this gelignite pie fight between the McCourts, and with Selig continuing to punch holes in the buckets Frank produces to keep himself afloat, we can only assume that Jamie will eventually sell her half of the Dodgers and leave Frank in need of a new sugar daddy.
And if that isn't Charlie Sheen, then I don't know my sugar.
The Dodgers have become an irrelevance in a town it once owned, a punchline to a joke nobody has the strength to tell. L.A. is a Lakers town now, the USC Fightin' Probationeers football team a distant second, and Blake Griffin comes before the baseball team in local consciousness.
The McCourt show is a one-trick pony now, an old Shetland that can barely drag itself across the sawdust on the circus floor. Thus, it is a team that needs buzz, damn it, and if Charlie Sheen can't do it, well, what's the point?
The introductory press conference alone would be Internet platinum. The hires, spectacular (pitching coach Conchata Ferrell? Why the hell not?). The team's image -- well, better than it is right now.
And the sad alternative, contraction, with an expansion Dodgers team created from the shards and thrown to the highest bidder, wouldn't be the same. It would, hard to believe, be worse than even the McCourts.
Thus, Sheen. We know nothing other than he seems to like baseball movies and inviting players over to meet about them. Maybe that's Bud on Line 2 now, to play the commissioner in the upcoming film.
Or maybe he's just drumming up future clients just in case the Dodgers thing finally implodes, as it seems increasingly destined to do.
And the whole idea of Bud Selig and Charlie Sheen on the same dais is, well, too delicious not to contemplate. Ask any Dodgers fan right now if you don't think so.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.