The L.A. Dodgers made their debut in April, 1958. Owner Walter O’Malley moved the team cross-country, drawn by the promise of a new stadium with convenient parking, new fans enjoying the disposable income generated by full employment, attractive weather with little worry of rainouts, and minimal competition for the sports-directed entertainment dollar. Brooklyn was in decline, its workforce having fled to the suburbs, its demographics altered by a flood of hispanic immigrants, gangs in control of too many of its streets, and a city government more concerned with enriching public employees and special contributors than serving its citizens. Any resemblance to present-day Los Angeles is purely identical.
The media enjoyed a “feeding-frenzy” following the tragic attack upon a Giant’s fan as he left a game at Dodger Stadium early this season. Frank McCourt was repeatedly castigated for failing to provide adequate security. Bud Selig argued team management couldn’t protect its fans, seizing the moment to attempt an MLB takeover of the Dodger money-machine. McCourt countered bankruptcy and the team is now “on the market”. No consideration has been given to moving the team out of L.A. It has been a “cash cow” for the league and Selig’s feigned interest in the fans thinly masked MLB’s interest in maximizing shared revenue. But why should consideration of new ownership be so limited? The Dodgers are one of baseball’s “storied franchises”. Baseball fans around the country deserve better than a new owner in a declining market.
Orel Hershiser has joined with Steve Garvey to assemble an investment group to buy the team. Why not add Mitt Romney to the group and talk “Salt Lake City Dodgers”. Think about it, a new stadium with team-owned parking, fans enjoying the disposable income reflecting relatively low unemployment, attractive weather with little worry of rainouts, and minimal competiton for the sports-directed entertainment dollar. Sound familiar? Its just one option, but Dodger fans around the country and MLB fans everywhere will be better served by opening up the bidding process to include the possibility of relocation. The team that gave us Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Walter Alston, Maury Wills, Roy Campanella, and Jackie Robinson deserves better than a sanctuary city in steady decline.