Given the 24 hours news cycle, by the time you read this, there’s a remote possibility the Dodgers’ signing of All-Star shortstop Manny Machado will be “old news.” I hope not because, for local sports fans, it’s terrific news. Praise goes to Andrew Friedman the 41-year-old Dodger President of Baseball Operations. (Mannywood 2?)

The Dodgers gave up 5 prospects to the Orioles, but only one was considered “top ten.” Meanwhile, Machado dramatically elevates the Dodgers’ chances to win the World Series for the first time since 1988. (Reagan, a Republican was president then and now Trump, a Republican is president. I’m just sayin’.)

Some east coast sports pundits are criticizing L.A. that our “spoiled fans” are addicted to “stars,” as opposed to their cities where their fan base love the game for itself. “Hogwash” motivated by jealousy. But even if it were true, so what?!

Yes, we love stars, from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to our politicians (Reagan and Schwarzenegger) to our sports franchises (Koufax, Baylor, West, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Gretzky, to name but a few. And, of course, our latest and possibly brightest star of all, LeBron! My view is, if we’ve got horrific traffic congestion and smog (again, to name but a few) the least we are entitled to, is our stars.

Yes, of course, we have great beaches and fabulous weather but personally, with climate change, I miss the seasons. People back east and in the mid-west complain in the winter about frigid temperatures and snow and scraping ice off their windshields. (We don’t have to worry about that unless we are DUI and plow into a meat packing plant in Vernon.) But we’ve got earthquakes and, especially this summer, threats of massive forest fires. So getting a few stars to highlight our sports teams, seems a fair trade-off.

With training camp opening July 23 (Hall of Fame game August 2) people may have forgotten that in March, the Rams signed Ndamukong Suh, star defensive tackle and former Defensive Rookie of the Year, to a 1-year $14 million contract. If the Rams successfully resolve Pro-Bowl defensive end, Aaron Donald’s contract, they could be one of the most imposing defenses in the league. Yes, we love our stars and with them maybe this year the Rams will make it to the Super Bowl, assuming we don’t have an earthquake.

And of course, only a week ago (seems forever) LeBron officially signed his 4-year $153,312,846 contract with the Lakers. (Makes you wonder how they arrive at such an odd number and not just round up to $154 million.) The Lakers have little (as in none) chance of making it to the NBA Finals this coming season but, unquestionably with LeBron, the future is as bright as his shining star. And that brings us back to Machado.

I suppose there are two worries with Machado and the Dodgers. One, being, will he be enough to propel the team through the playoffs, given their suspect middle-relief pitching. (Hopefully that issue will be addressed somehow before the July 31 trade deadline.) And two, will Machado stay past this season or wind up just a “rental.” The latter problem would only likely occur if free-agent Machado’s asking price (10 years/$300 million?) would break the Dodger bank.

Breaking the Dodger bank, however, is impossible given their 25-year local TV deal in which they receive $330 million a year. It’s not the bank, it’s the Dodger ownership that doesn’t want to go above the $197 million luxury tax. or as the league prefers to call it, the “Competitive Balance Tax.”

Limiting the payroll is obviously the Dodgers right. My attitude, albeit perhaps peculiar, is when traffic gets manageable and the air is clean, I’ll cast no judgment on their decision to be under the luxury tax

Keep in mind, Dodger fans are among the country’s most loyal. Even if you and I were on the team, they’d still draw 3,000,000 a year. (Assuming you and I are ambulatory.)

Historically, the L.A. “star” phenomenon may have started with the first Rose Parade in 1890 where our weather was the “star.” The event was essentially designed as an ad campaign by the L.A. Times to lure easterners buried in January snow to move here after seeing images of Los Angelinos basking in the sun. More residents, more Times subscribers, more power.

And of course the movies have always been star-driven. Today, to get movies financed, it’s not the script or the director, it’s which bankable star can play the lead opposite which other star.

Even our stadiums will be “stars.” Just wait until 2020 when the $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood opens. In the meantime, the Rams have Suh, Donald, Gurley and Goff. The Lakers have LeBron and the Dodgers have Kershaw, Jansen, and now, Machado. Cynic that I normally am, I say there’s no harm in wishing upon our stars.

 

Jack also writes “Laughing Matters,” which appears every Friday. He’s at jackdailypress@aol.com.