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Under a new regime and fresh off a not so good road trip, home is always where the heart is and for the Los Angeles Dodgers it was a much needed change of pace. It’s official, the Dodgers have new ownership that consist of Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Earvin “Magic” Johnson” to guide the Dodgers back to their winning tradition.
On hand to throw out the first pitch was Dodger great Don Newcombe, who was hugged by outfielder and current Dodger Matt Kemp, and greeted by Rachel Robinson widow of Dodger great Jackie Robinson and new owner Magic Johnson. Johnson also made the first call “its time for Dodger baseball” to all of the fans who cheered.
Another great thing for fans to enjoy officially was the new lower parking prices at Dodger Stadium, and their Dodgers certainly put on a clinic against the hated rival San Francisco Giants.
Ted Lilly and Barry Zitto were determined not to give either team an opportunity to score, however that changed in the third inning as Mark Ellis doubled to left, and Matt Kemp was intentionally walked. The Andre Either walked which moved Ellis to third base and Kemp to second. Juan Rivera grounded out yet Ellis still scored.
Top of the sixth inning Miguel Cabrera moved to third base on a wild pitch by Lilly, then Joaquin Arias singled to right center which scored Cabrera.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Bobby Abreu hit an infield single to third, then catcher AJ Ellis doubled to deep right that scored Abreu and moved Juan Uribe to the third. Tony Gywnn Jr pinched hit for Ted Lilly who reached on a bunt single to third, and Uribe scored because of throwing error by Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie.
Giants reliever Steve Edlefsen came into for Barry Zito, which didn’t stop Kemp who doubled to right. Rivera grounded into a fielder’s choice to the pitcher that scored Kemp, however Rivera ran to second thanks to a throwing error by Edlefsen, where the crowd cheered loudly.
Travis Blackley relieved Edlefsen that provided no help as the Dodger owned the eight inning when Dee Gordon reached on bunt single to third, AJ Ellis moved to third and Gwynn moved to second base. With the bases loaded Blackley walked Ellis, AJ Ellis scored, and Gywnn moved to third while Gordon advanced to second. Adam Kennedy pinched hit for Josh Lindblom and connected on a single to right that scored Gywnn, advanced Ellis and Gordon to second and third base. Either then singled to left that scored Gordon and Ellis, which moved Kennedy to second base. Later Rivera grounded out to shortstop but not before Kennedy scored to increase the 9-1 lead over the Giants.
Dodgers reliever Scott Elbert came in to close out the ninth inning getting Ryan Theriot grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Matt Kemp spoke about what it meant to see Newcombe and seeing Magic as the new owner “It felt great. I think the fans were pretty excited to see Magic and all those guys sit in the owners’ seats. It was definitely a different atmosphere, Magic’s right by the on-deck circle, so I could probably give him a high-five whenever I want to.”
Ted Lilly (4-0) gave up a run and four hits, walked two, and struck out six, while Barry Zito gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings.
On a cool, crisp, party cloudy Wednesday at historic Dodger Stadium, Wednesday was the day that the city of Los Angeles and Dodger fans across the globe could breathe alot easier, thanks to new ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The three main faces of the new ownership group, Guggenheim CEO and Chairman Mark Walter, new Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten, and part owner & CEO Earvin “Magic” Johnson sat before reporters, city officials, and fans watching on the internet to unveil their plans to revive the Dodger spirit.
The press conference was held in center field. Lots of classic Dodger superstars and ex-teammates were in attendance such as the great Maury Wills, Don Newcombe, Steve Garvey, Tommy Lasorda, and others. It was only fitting that the golden voice of baseball and the Dodgers Vin Scully was the master of ceremonies. The crowd heard from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and councilman Ed Reyes both were excited about the new ownership group taking over the Dodgers.
The sale of the team, Dodger stadium and land surrounding Chavez Revine became official on Tuesday as the group closed its $2 billion purchase, finally ending the McCourts’ terrible eight-year ownership run.
Vin Scully introduced the three main owners in a fashion only he could express “it’s time to meet the group that will bring the Dodgers higher than the Sistine Chapel.”
Magic Johnson graced the podium as only he could with the larger than life personality and bright billion dollar smile, opening with “God is so good, and I know that because, I’m standing here a Dodger owner, wow.” An excited Johnson continued to say that he spoke to the employees, and informed them that it starts with you, excellence travels all the way to the players on the field. He also stressed to the media and the public that this will be a very safe and family friendly environment, and he reminded us all that that this group is totally committed to winning. Johnson was so eager he expressed that he would start working today, but his office won’t be ready until Monday. “Mr. O’Malley, you put pride in the Dodgers,” Johnson said, as he asked the former owner to stand. “What we want to do is bring the pride back to the city and organization. We want to win on the field and make sure the fans have the best experience they’ve ever had.
Johnson also announced that the parking will be cut from $15 to $10 starting with the next home stand on Monday against the San Francisco Giants.
Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley who took over the team for his late father Walter owned the team until he sold it in 1998.
A very elated Stan Kasten former president of the Atlanta Braves, Hawks, Thrashers, and Washington Nationals reassured the crowd, “we’re in a market where fans expect to contend now. There’s this real thing called Dodger pride. As someone who has competed 3,000 miles away, it’s a feeling that doesn’t exist with other franchises. Players feel it the first time they put on their uniforms.” He also stressed that they weren’t going to wait two years, if they have the opportunity to win now, that’s what is going to happen.
“We commented the other day when we spoke to the team that we would build a winning way, a culture of winning from top to bottom. For me, it begins with player development. It was pioneered by the Dodgers in Brooklyn. That’s the tradition we’re going to continue.”
Kasten will be working along side of current GM Ned Colletti with player personnel and other moves to restore the Dodgers to greatness.
A very tall and smiling CEO Mark Walter approached the podium and said he grew up not far from the “Field of Dreams” an Iowa based baseball movie starting Kevin Costner, and called this an incredible happy day. Along with that he thanked his parents for teaching him the value of hard work and love.
Announced March 27 the purchase, was the key element in the Dodgers’ emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Frank McCourt was force to file for bankruptcy last June when he couldn’t meet player payroll, after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig declined to approve a $3 billion agreement between FOX Sports and the Dodgers to extend their television rights. One of the best things Selig did to aid in the process of turning the franchise around.
Scully recognized Dodgers greats Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Tommy Davis, all wearing Dodgers jerseys. Bill Russell, Maury Wills and a collection of stars from the past appeared also.
Jim Hill questioned Magic about how much it meant for his involvement in such a ground breaking franchise like Dodgers, when they brought in Jackie Robinson, and now to break that cycle in ownership. Johnson fixed his Dodger hat, fighting to hold back tears responded “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Jackie Robinson and also all the other unbelievable players we have here.” As he continued maintaining his composer “it’s very emotional. I can’t even put into words how it is. … It’s a great time — loving this community, loving the Dodgers, loving baseball — to be part of this. My wife Cookie is here, my son Andre. My staff is here. We’re going to get it done.”
Mark Walter added “As much as this is a big day for us, we’re very, very happy to be here, this is not about us. This is about the Dodgers, one of the most honored and storied franchises in history. We are passionate about making this organization the best that it can be from every respect, from winning, from its relationship with the community, from all the philanthropic and other things that it can be a platform to help with.
And as always there were a few dumb questions by a couple of reporters, and a very stern Magic Johnson spoke after the questions had already been answered by Kasten and Walter in regards to the involvement of McCourt. “We own it 100 percent, he won’t get a dime for the parking. Now we don’t need to even mention Frank McCourt, we’re here, we should be clapping about that!”
Walter continued to stress that McCourt can profit only from future development, “We don’t have any current plans for development. Nothing can be developed unless we think it’s good for us.”
Following that, a message from Dodger superstars Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp played on the jumbotron expressed how elated they were about the new ownership taking over the Dodgers. Kemp, also reminded Magic he could take him one-on-one in a scoreboard video message, received a response from the great point guard.
“Matt Kemp challenged me, Matt we’ve got to win the World Series first. Ad after that then you’ll get the chance to play me.”
Vin Scully concluded the press conference by saying that this would be the last ownership exchange that would have his involvement.
On that note this was a great day for baseball, Dodger fans, and sports enthusiast alike as we witnessed history, and I trust we will experience more history and ground breaking moves withing the coming days, weeks and years.
*The Guggenheim Baseball Management is the third owner of the team since 1998.
SAN DIEGO, CA – Once you heard the golden voice of baseball make his announcement “it’s time for Dodger baseball” you knew the 2012 Season was official. The Dodgers started the season this year on the road with the their neighbors to the south, the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw never though he’d wake with a bad case of the stomach flu for Thursday debut. After pleading and convincing manager Don Mattingly not to scratch him for the start, Kershaw went out and battled like a champ, throwing three shut out inning before calling it a day due to effects of the stomach flu. Mattingly pulls him just before the fourth inning to replace him with pitcher Josh Lindblom, who ironically wasn’t sure he would make it to the Opening Day roster.
The fourth inning proved to be the breakaway opportunity the Dodgers needed as Padres pitcher Edinson Volquez threw several walks allowing the Dodgers to score two much needed runs. The Padres also picked up three errors in the inning. The scoring didn’t stop in the fifth inning as the Dodgers got into position to score again thanks to a Dee Gordon triple error as the ball bounced off the glove of Padres Cameron Maybin. Matt Kemp hit a grounder that allowed Gordon to score making it 3-0.
The Padres finally got on the board as they scored a run thanks to Jesus Guzman RBI double, ending the scoreless drought in the sixth inning.
The eight inning, it was all Matt Kemp as he hit a home run that flew to right of pitcher Brad Brach, to give the Dodgers a commanding 5-1 lead. The Padres weren’t done as Maybin blasted about a 445 foot home run off Kensley Jensen to bring the Padres back within two, down just 5-3.
Javy Guerra came in the ninth inning to secure the save as the Dodgers take the first game of the series 5-3. Lindblom who pitched two perfect innings in Kershaw’s absence, get the win. Kemp finished the day with 3 RBI’s and 1 home run. After the home run, a happy Kemp talked about what happened when he was congratulated by new owner Magic Johnson “right when I came back from hitting the home run, he stuck his head in the dugout and said, ‘Nice job, kid”.
Padres manager Bud Black talked about the absence of Clayton Kershaw “It’s nice to get him out of the game, thinking the Cy Young Award winner is out and you have six innings to go score runs”.
Friday the Padres have another opportunity to turn things around as they send Cory Luebke to the mound against Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley at 7:05PM.
*In attendance was former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt sitting next to one of the new Dodger owners Magic Johnson. An enthusiastic Johnson was seen several times cheering on his new ball club throughout the game.
LOS ANGELES – The dawn of a new era starts in the city of Los Angeles, Major League Baseball (MLB), and amongst Dodger fans across the nation. The most hated man in Los Angeles, Frank McCourt who purchased the Dodger back in 2004 for $430 million from FOX’s NewsCorp has chosen a new owner. Over the years the McCourts have ruined the historic franchise that began with the O’Malley family from the days in Brooklyn. Through the divorce drama of Frank & Jamie McCourt, the savage beating of San Francisco Giants fan Brian Stow, and fans boycotting by not appearing at games. Many of us never thought this day would come soon enough. The Dodgers hadn’t had the lowest attendance in the league since 1992.
On Tuesday those dark days would become bright again, as it was reported that Frank McCourt sold the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Guggenheim Baseball Management group. The group includes Mark Walter, former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, Mandalay Bay CEO Peter Guber, and former Los Angeles Lakers star and businessman Magic Johnson. The group purchased the team for a reported $2 billion dollars, the highest amount in North America for a sports franchise.
Greatness has truly been restored to the Dodger image, as well as to the millions and millions of fans waiting for this day.
Having Magic Johnson being apart of this ownership group was absolutely genius. Not only being a successful businessman, a five time NBA world champion, Magic has always had the insight to make things better. Along with being a long time Dodgers fan, he is the first black owner in MLB history. More than 60 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier back in 1947, the Dodgers have always been groundbreaking. From acquiring a jewish pitcher in Sandy Koufax, to tapping into the Latin American market bring us Fernando Valenzuela “Fernando-Mania”, Ramon Martinez, to going into the Far East of the world that brought us the pitching sensation Hideo Nomo.
The Dodgers have always knocked down barriers both racially and economically. It will take the Dodgers some time to get everything situated and planned out, but the future looks very bright and promising for this franchise.
Stan Kasten has stated that the people who are in upper manager such as GM Ned Colletti will remain in place, and trust that they are doing the best job that can be done in their respective positions.
With the agreement of the bankruptcy judge, the selling of this team, McCourt will be able to pay off debts. Which consist of his ex-wife’s divorce settlement of $131 million, paying off debts accumulated during the his ownership tenure will bring the Dodgers back into the positive financially.
Although McCourt does retain 50% of the parking lots and land at Dodger Stadium, the new ownership would acquire the land surrounding the stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million. There will come a day where McCourt will be a distant memory in Los Angeles, and have no ties to the team, parking lots, land or anything else. McCourt will walk away from this deal with over $600 millions dollars.
For Commissioner Bud Selig, the purchase of the Dodgers by the Guggenheim Baseball Management Group that includes Magic Johnson, just elevated his legacy into the stratosphere. When Selig retires from being commissioner on his resume, he can clearly state he was the one who brought back the Dodgers back from a relic and made them relevant again.
Also history was made on his watch by Magic Johnson being the first black owner in Major League Baseball.
With McCourt now out of the way, Selig has realized all is right again in baseball land again. The group should be officially in place by April 30th. Magic has said he’ll have an office at Dodger Stadium, but will remain out of the way of what he calls “the baseball guys” such Stan Kasten and others.
The moment of free agency, look for Magic Johnson to be recruiting players as only Magic can, with passion, enthusiasm, and that award winning smile.
With the 50th Anniversary of the Dodgers playing at Dodger Stadium this year, this news couldn’t have come at a better time.
Mr. Walter O’Malley can rest easy, as the historic franchise he worked so hard to build and maintain through out the years is back is great hands. Hands that will continue the team into greatness for many years to come.
Is Major League Baseball ready for Black ownership, I would say, they are on the right track. Tuesday’s groundbreaking announcement could potentially open doors for other teams to allow other black businesspeople to be apart of MLB at the ownership level.