Ding, dong, the wretch has fled.
Ending the saddest chapter in Dodger history, Frank McCourt has finally agreed to sell the team, giving up ownership Tuesday on a day appropriately filled with thoughts of upcoming Thanksgiving gratitude while occurring hours after the horror of Halloween.
After eight seasons that featured four playoff appearances, one divorce, one bankruptcy, and an alleged $189 million siphoned from the team for personal use, McCourt has agreed with major-league baseball to seek approval from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court for an auction of the Dodgers.
Yes, he’s finally been taken out of the ballgame, and I don’t care if he ever gets back.
McCourt will sell the team that his financial mismanagement allowed to become the saddest of baseball jokes. He will sell a stadium that his unpopularity turned into a ghost town. And, glory hallelujah, he will sell the parking lots that were the site of a vicious beating this season, parking lots he turned into ATMs by charging $15 for the privilege of being stuck for 45 minutes.
Finally realizing he’s out of money and out of options, McCourt is giving it all up, and he’s giving it up so quickly that the league hopes the Dodgers will have a new owner by opening day.
Who will that be? It’s fun to even start imagining, isn’t it? Now that McCourt has quit blue, we can once again Think Blue, and how cool is that?
The new owner could be anybody from the Dallas Mavericks’ Mark Cuban to the Milwaukee Brewers Mark Attanasio to some anonymous rich businessman who steps out of the shadows at the last minute. Remember, nobody had ever even heard of Arte Moreno until seemingly hours before he bought the Angels, and the same thing could happen here.
The candidates are many, the brand will be strong again, the financial ceiling here is limitless, it will be the best job in baseball the minute someone takes it. And there is only one thing for certain.
Bud Selig owes us. The baseball commissioner who allowed a seriously underfunded McCourt to take the team from desperate Fox in 2004 owes us a strong and viable owner this time.
Selig will pick the person, believe me. No sports commissioner has a stronger influence over who is allowed entry in his league. Selig will pick this owner like he has picked other owners, but never before has his selection been more important, more mandated, and more tied to his legacy.
Selig owes us. He owes Los Angeles a well-funded, competitive-minded businessperson who understands that the Dodgers are about a family experience, Hollywood entertainment and, most important, winning.
Selig owes us an owner who wants to win and doesn’t care how much money it will take to do that. The Dodgers were baseball’s most successful franchise when they were owned by the O’Malley family. The potential is there for it to happen again.
A good question for a potential new owner will be, can you sign Matt Kemp, and can you do it now? Another question would be, can you sign Clayton Kershaw, and can you do it within the next year?
Of course, there is one question that must be asked first: Do you value Vin Scully and will you keep him behind the microphone forever?
The new owner needs to be accountable to a public that has proven it will not tolerate deceit. Don’t walk in here like McCourt and make promises you can’t keep. This season proved that even fiercely loyal Dodgers fans have their limits.
The new owner needs to be willing to shake things up by shaking up Dodger Stadium, perhaps even updating it to the point of gutting it. As part of this remodeling, the new owner need to turn the stadium into a family place again, making it uncomfortable for thugs while allowing children to roam the concourses safely again.
The new owner needs to rebuild the scouting and player development departments again, spending the money to remind the baseball world of the days when the Dodgers stars were homegrown and the Dodgers scouts owned Latin America.
The new owner should allow the team of Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti to keep their jobs for now. They have both achieved enough, even in Mattingly’s one year here, to be given a chance to win with a full dugout and championship budget.
And if this an owner can be found in the next month or so? Hey, feel free to show up with Prince Fielder.
Before delving too deeply into the potential new owners, though, perhaps I am remiss in not using this era’s last moments to remember the McCourt regime.
Maybe I should recall how Frank and wife Jamie showed up as this city’s newest power couple, only to allow their power struggle to tear the team apart. Maybe I should remember how Frank and Jamie preached family and community, then watched fans stand in two-inning-long concession stand lines while filling their pockets for mansions and private planes.
McCourt did bring us two appearances in the National League Championship Series … but both times the Dodgers fell short because he wouldn’t spend the money on a starting pitcher.
McCourt did bring us Manny Ramirez … until he was busted by baseball’s steroid police.
McCourt did bring us Manager Joe Torre … until Torre quit because he couldn’t function in that dysfunctional environment anymore.
McCourt did bring us … you know, forget it. I’m just so sick of fussing and fuming about this man, I’ll just celebrate the fact that even a mere thought of him is no longer required.
Take a hike, Frank. Don’t let the Chavez hit you in the Ravine on the way out.