Some Scant Praise for Frank McCourt

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Sure, Frank McCourt was an unholy disaster for the Dodgers—but before we bid him a bitter adieu, let us take a moment to thank him, just a wee bit, for his gross incompetence as a businessman. Any other right-thinking chief executive would have fielded a serious contender, if not a world champion. But he or she would also have built at least a couple of thousand homes—or several times that many condos—on the few hundred acres of Chavez Ravine property that came with the purchase of the Dodgers. McCourt, a former Boston parking lot mogul, didn’t manage to break ground on a single subdivided plot before the bubble burst on the most lucrative housing market in modern L.A. history—inadvertently preserving the bucolic view from Dodger Stadium’s upper deck and reserved level. Though he flooded the stadium with a fresh inundation of electronic advertising, and expanded luxury seating for the top one percent of Dodger fans while letting the rest of us 99 percent rot, he did, bafflingly, fail to sell naming rights. So the Dodgers, rare among major-league teams, finished this past season in their own eponymous ballpark—not in Health Net Stadium or CB Richard Ellis Stadium. Then there was McCourt’s indentured servitude to FOX, which precluded him from launching a Dodgers cable network, keeping many more games, abysmal though they were, on the free airwaves. Perhaps the Dodgers can find new owners who will maintain these throwback touches—not because they’re up to their eyeballs in debt and too busy getting in-home hair treatments and collecting mansions to bother much with the team beyond plundering it, but because they have sentimental hearts and tens of millions to burn, having made their fortunes in more sensible industries than baseball. Of course, a decent manager and new multi-year contracts for Kemp and Kershaw would be all right too.

 

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