Next owner is no sure thing for Dodgers

Next owner is no sure thing for Dodgers
November 2, 2011, 3:36 pm
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There are a number of assumptions floating about the air now that Frank McCourt has been convinced in that Stop jumping up and down on my feet way by Bud Selig to sell the Dodgers, and most of them are, well, wrong.Starting with the asking price. With numbers being bandied about between 1 billion and 1.5 billion, the assumption is that suitors will be both plentiful and deep-pocketed. This aint necessarily the case.For one, we are running out of egomaniacal billionaires in this country, and buying the a sports franchise is a monument to ego. The Dodgers are a crown jewel in baseball, true, but so are the problems, including stadium issues. In short, the overhead is prodigious.And for two, this is a distressed sale, as McCourt is basically broke with creditors chasing him down the street. A smart buyer can avoid a bidding war and then get down to choke-slamming McCourt into accepting his terms, because McCourt cannot not sell. Well put the price at 850 million, and are willing to consider a lower end result, no matter what is eventually announced. Ball teams, after all, have a way of reporting one price and actually fetching another.Then theres the notion that what replaces McCourt is by definition better. After all, Major League Baseball does not have a great track record of vetting owners, as proven by the fact that Frank McCourt got in in the first place. Texas was bought in a panic auction and within a year had tossed out Chuck Greenberg as its principal owner. The Giants have changed hands twice in three years. And those are successful teams. Baseball ownership is, in short, a very volatile market.To that end, some ownerships are better than others. The Dodgers could get a guy like Mark Cuban, who has a reputation for throwing money around on the product, but is also a hardliner in the NBA lockout battle. They could get a bunch of investment bankers who want the quarterly reports to be tidy. They could get a blowhard with money, or an invisible guy with none. They could get another Frank McCourt. Oh, yes, they could. And there is also the possibility that McCourt could renege on the deal on the grounds that none of the offers are good enough for him. Even cornered as he is now, McCourt has that wrench-in-the-spokes look, as though he might want to screw Bud Selig one final time in some small and unsustainable way.In short, what we think we see here is a longterm solution to the Dodgers problems and therefore a long reign of stability and power in the National League West. What we actually see is someone different who is a short-term solution to Bud Seligs problem of having approved a guy who turned one of the franchises he is charged with safeguarding into a glorified money-laundering operation.Beyond that, we have no guarantees at all.So yes, for baseball, getting rid of Frank McCourt is a good thing on a lot of fronts. But what comes next is not a slam-dunk boon to society, or even to Bud Selig. There are, as hard as this seems to fathom, worse potential owners than McCourt, who have not yet revealed themselves.In sum, this isnt better automatically. This is, however, different. If, in fact, it turns out to be anything at all.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com