Frank McCourt, the Dodgers owner, hopefully only temporarily, is the most reviled man in Los Angeles. (A title formerly held by O.J. Simpson.) McCourt earned this distinction by pillaging the storied Dodger franchise to support his and his wife Jamie’s opulent lifestyle. (Seven houses? Buy another house rather than drive ten more minutes?)
This sad saga is somehow reminiscent of “Whitey” Bulger, the legendary crime boss who was arrested in Santa Monica two months ago on 19 counts of murder. (Is that all?) Here’s my connection. What Frank has done to the Dodgers is criminal. Whitey is in fact a criminal. Both men are from Boston. To paraphrase Robert DeNiro, “I’m not saying nothin’, I’m just saying.”
Looking back, Los Angeles was a very different city before the Dodgers arrived in 1958. To appreciate this you’d have to have seen the L.A. skyline. Actually there wasn’t one. The only skyscraper was City Hall, completed in 1928. Compared to New York City, Chicago or even Philadelphia, L.A. was something of a small town. (Except for our traffic congestion, that is.)
During the past 50 years, L.A. has become a world famous metropolis. The Dodgers, who have won five World Series, have helped, albeit in a small way. And it’s been a beautiful love affair between Angelenos and the Dodgers. Now, however, in the bitter McCourt divorce, the fans have become the abused children and Frank is the deadbeat dad.
How loyal are Dodger fans? In 1978 the Dodgers were the first team to attract more than 3 million spectators in a season. And we accomplished that feat six more times, before any other franchise did it once.
In fact, the Dodgers have drawn over 3 million fans for the past 15 seasons, the longest streak in the MLB. (Fittingly, this year the Dodgers will likely draw 2.3 million and are lucky to get that.) During McCourt’s ownership, the Dodgers set a record for single-season attendance, 3.8 million in 2007. And how has Frank treated the loyal, dedicated fans? Two words: like chumps.
To be fair, in the seven years of McCourt’s ownership, the Dodgers have made the post-season four times. But, to be real, the Dodgers are eleven games under .500, practically in the cellar of the Western Division, and stuck in bankruptcy court with no end in sight. It’s there that legal documents have revealed a great deal about Frank’s integrity, or lack thereof.
When Frank and Jamie bought the Dodgers from Fox in 2004 they didn’t use a penny of their own money. (A red flag, folks.) Then they proceeded to fleece the team’s financial coffers as they used the Dodgers as their own personal ATM.
Instead of pitchers, they bought houses. Instead of a power hitter, they paid lawyers. (Their divorce may cost an estimated $35,000,000!) And everyone says there’s nothing we can do about it. Well, to paraphrase Howard Beale in “Network,” “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”
I realize that for true-blue Dodger fans what I’m about to suggest won’t be easy. To collectively force Frank to sell the team, here’s what we ought to do, ASAP.
Number one, don’t buy a single ticket to any remaining games this season. I know it’s tempting because the stadium is half empty and one can easily sneak into premium seats. But I plead with you, don’t give Frank another dime of your hard earned money. He doesn’t deserve it.
Number two, don’t go to a Dodger game, even if someone offers free tickets. Be strong, resist the temptation. Now that I think of it, maybe we should have Dodger Anonymous 12 step programs. We could call them D.A. for Dodgers Anonymous. “Hello, I’m Jack and I’m a Dodgerholic.”
Number three, be careful about watching the Dodgers on TV. If you miss the boys in blue (although aside from Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, there’s not much to miss), you can listen on radio. And you can watch on TV, but only if you are not a Nielsen family, because ratings mean money funneled into Frank’s greedy little hands. (Speaking of Nielsen, have you ever met a family with a Nielsen box?)
Number four, for those so steamed about Frank McCourt they need to vent, I’ve set up a Facebook page entitled “Don’t Support McCourt.” (What a coincidence!) Actually if you just type the word “Don’t” the page comes up.
So please go to the webpage and feel free to share any and all thoughts and get your friends to do so as well. All I ask is that you be polite. For example, someone posted that Frank’s facial features, squinty eyes and furtive glances, make him look like a weasel. I think that’s uncalled for and warrants an apology … to weasels.
When Jack isn’t busy at Facebook collecting members for “Don’t Support McCourt,” he can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.