Small Wonders: A 'Dear John' letter for Frank McCourt

Dear Frank, You don't know me and I don't know you. Not personally, at least. But I read a lot about you in the newspaper. Probably more than you read about me.

If you do read about me, you’re welcome to email to tell me how you think I’m parenting, to take issue with my political or religious beliefs, or to suggest a good butcher.

But since I’ve got a bit of a view into your life, I have a small request: Please sell our team.

I know you have many legal documents demonstrating that the Los Angeles Dodgers are your team. Or your ex-wife’s team. Or both. And most likely the property of some bank. But that’s a mere legal technicality, a clerical concern to be decided by a judge. And either way, we don’t really care.

Because, you see, as an Angeleno and a Dodger fan, I have to tell you something that does not appear in any contract, tax filing or deal memo.

It’s our team.

You came to our party a few years ago, 12-pack under one arm, family under the other, and we welcomed you. We had a few laughs, shared some good times. For a while we actually enjoyed your company. But then you had a few cocktails and got a little weird. The shiny veneer began to fade and you started to make everyone else at the party uncomfortable.

You drank all the good liquor in the cabinet but didn’t chip in when we needed a beer run. Or a reliable pitcher.

To you, the team is an asset, a mere pawn in your chess game of financial properties to be mortgaged, leveraged, monetized and collateralized. You don't care about this team as anything more than another line item in your portfolio.

This week, when you threatened to gouge any future team owner for exorbitant rent, should you somehow retain ownership of the land upon which the stadium stands, you made it very clear once again that this team is but a tool to you, a legal and financial weapon.

But to us, the Dodgers are home. They embody our pride in a fractured, manic city. As an institution, it is a part of the collective memory of all our childhoods, hopes, failures and triumphs. It is one of the few good things that bring us together in this town. And it means a hell of a lot more to us than it does to you.

You’ve run the team and its dignity into the ground. Sell it now before its value decreases even more. And every day that goes by, that is exactly what’s happening. There are hungry buyers out there who actually see the real value in our team, a value that does not show up on a financial report.

You’ve played all your cards and your hand keeps getting worse. It’s a cornered businessman’s tactic to threaten lawsuits he has no chance of winning. Sell our team now and walk away with a few $100 million for both you and your ex. That should be more than enough to continue your real estate deals back in Boston.

You're only hurting yourself at this point. Every game photo in the newspaper shows a background of empty seats. Scalpers outside the stadium aren’t able to feed their kids and millionaire players don’t know if they’ll be able to make this month’s country club payment.

The stands will remain deserted, even if you somehow find a way to stay and rebuild. Sure, we’ll come back eventually. We always do. We’ve endured bad seasons, front-office scandal and on-field shenanigans. We’ve supported lousy teams in the past, and will in the future. Heck, we’re doing that now. But we’ll do it from afar. Until you let our team go.

Stop crying about your beloved Fox TV deal, the one in which half of the proposed $385 million would have gone to you, your ex-wife, your attorneys and debtors, and not to the team. You fooled us once, Mr. McCourt, when you bought our team. We won’t be fooled again.

So we're asking you to leave the party. I'm sorry, but we don't want your kind of behavior here. For the sake of the rest of the people who are here to enjoy the party, we're kindly asking you to leave. Take what's left of your cheap beer and go.

Sell the team, Frank, preferably to an interested, local entity that actually puts the team before the business.

Mr. Garvey? Mr. Hershiser? Mr. O’Malley? Are you there?

PATRICK CANEDAY is a Dodger fan. He may be reached on Facebook, at www.patrickcaneday.com and patrickcaneday@gmail.com.
 
 

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