An open letter to Frank and Jamie McCourt:
I know, I know, this is a worn and hackneyed literary device, about as fresh as a Dodger Stadium concourse, but I don’t really have a choice.
I want to send a message to both of you, but you’re never together anymore. I see Frank looking lonely in a half-empty owners’ box. I hear Jamie sounding defiant behind some fancy Beverly Hills designer desk. I long for the days when you stood together next to the dugout and engaged in a theatrical postgame smooch.
Well, no, not really.
But this open letter is the only way I can get a message to both of you before you drag this town’s oldest sports treasure through the humiliation of a late-summer trial. This is the only way I can reach you before your lawyers publicly tear apart the fabric that once held this town together. This is a last cry for help before your public debasement of the Dodgers is complete.
This is, simply, a request on behalf of all those Dodgers fans to whom you both once promised selfless stewardship of their family heirloom.
Be those stewards and sell the team.
This is a plea on behalf of all those who were listening to you, Frank, when you said, “I can provide the leadership that this team needs to win.”
Be that leader and sell the team.
This is a downright begging of you, Jamie, to heed your own words when you said you wanted to make the Dodgers “the most fan-friendly experience in all of sports.”
Be the fans’ best friend by selling the team.
C’mon, McCourts, stop glaring at each other long enough to look together at the reality. This is your way back to community respect. This is your way back to a lasting legacy. After spending the last 10 months trapped in a storm of boos and jeers and jokes, this is your way out.
Don’t wait until a judge decides who owns the team, a decision that could be destructive to both of you. Sell it first and you both win.
Announce that, for the good of the city, you have each agreed to give up your fight for sole ownership and decided to work together to sell the team to a qualified owner.
You know, like one who can afford a pitching trio somewhat more illustrious than the one the Dodgers trotted out in a dreadful sixth inning against the New York Mets on Saturday — McDonald to Taschner to Schlichting?
Despite the horns that have been affixed to your mugs the last few months — c’mon, can you blame us? — you McCourts have done some good things in your tenure.
You brought back October, four postseason appearances in your six seasons. You brought back credibility, Joe Torre in the dugout and Ned Colletti upstairs. Heck, you even brought back Tommy, with Lasorda playing the leading ambassador role that he always deserved.
You’ve done great things, but then real life intruded, and although this town certainly understands divorces, it can’t understand why you have allowed yours to rip apart our baseball team.
Those postseason appearances? Probably not this year, maybe never again under your ownership, not with a team operating on a payroll of about $83 million, far less than the $100 million you once promised, and now even less than that of the Minnesota Twins.
Credibility? You’re on the verge of losing Torre, who is seemingly weary of running a team that doesn’t have the money or prospects to quickly improve.
Lasorda? OK, you’ll never lose him, but you are losing fans who think like him. There were huge patches of empty seats at Dodger Stadium on Saturday in a game that was sexy enough to be shown to the majority of the country on national television. The other night I was arguing with a former season-ticket holder who thought I had wrongly maligned Dodger Stadium in a recent column, but the argument ended when he admitted he had not attended one game this season.
If you keep fighting over the franchise, McCourts, you will destroy everything you built here, leaving the team as vacant and rudderless as that parting gift from Fox.
Besides, Frank, what if you win that fight? You know you can’t afford to keep the team as a sole owner, so it will only mean several more years of flailing. And Jamie, what if you win? The team will have to be divided anyway because it will become community property, so a sale would probably happen anyway, only in a long and messy manner.
Sell now, together, cleanly, and there will be buyers lining up to celebrate and continue your success. Sell now, nobly, and there will be fans lining up to applaud you on your way back to Boston.
Remember what you once said, Jamie? That one of your goals for the team was to “become a model franchise in giving back to the community?”
So join forces with Frank to give back to the Los Angeles community in one final act of model selflessness. Sell the team, and return to the Dodgers their dignity.
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