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MIKE DOWNEY

Will He Let a Fox in the Stadium?

May 12, 1997|MIKE DOWNEY

Speculation abounds that Peter O'Malley will ultimately sell the Dodgers to megalomaniac media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose holdings include some of the globe's most distinctive publications and television networks. Nothing's final, but that's the gossip . . . and Murdoch's newspapers do love gossip.

Ever since O'Malley's announcement Jan. 6 that the Dodgers were for sale, we have been waiting to see who shows him the money. Personally, I thought Sony would step in, or MCA or some other possessor of vast wealth, like, oh, you know, Jim Carrey. But if it has to be Rupert Murdoch, all right then, Rupert Murdoch it is.

Could be worse. Could be Larry Flynt.

Among other things, I presume Murdoch's ownership would mean that the Dodgers would be in bed on a permanent basis with his TV network, Fox, which in turn means that Vin Scully will be doing promo teasers for that other Scully from the "X Files," plus other fine Fox programs featuring aliens or Aaron Spelling's daughter. The best news is, it's Fox, not NBC . . . so hey, at least we'll always know the score of the ballgame.

I suppose this also means that from now on, the Dodger Blue newsletter will be a tabloid. Mike Piazza Captured by UFO. Hideo Nomo, Fran Drescher in Secret Love Nest! How Tommy Lasorda Lost 200 Pounds, and You Can Too!

Murdoch certainly has the wherewithal to buy the ballclub from O'Malley, having more money than most people other than that fellow who created Wal-Mart. I can see where the classy O'Malley would be tempted to take the declasse Murdoch's dough, even if these two do seem, at face value, to have less in common than any couple this side of Pat Boone and Alice Cooper.

The downside of all this continues to be O'Malley's steadily diminishing role in landing an NFL franchise for this city. As he points out in an interview with The Times, the Dodger owner was willing to act as a "friend to the city" in acceding to the mayor's wishes to get behind the L.A. Coliseum, but it definitely didn't make his day.

We, the pro football fans of Southern California, those of us who hail from San Luis Obispo to San Clemente, are stuck more than ever with the Coliseum now, thanks to an agreement struck between the city and the owners of the Kings. Be sure to order those 49er or Charger season tickets today, because the NFL will come to the Coliseum at approximately the time I accept the Nobel Prize beside my wife, Princess Di.

Cleveland and a Canadian city will get the next two NFL expansion teams, while Mayor Riordan fiddles and the Coliseum crumbles.

I know that the good people and neighbors of Echo Park objected strenuously to O'Malley's scheme to build a second stadium beside his baseball park. Many apparently consider it harmful to their tranquillity and general well-being, seeing no advantage, I gather, in living in such proximity to one of America's great sports and entertainment complexes. I guess eight football games a year would make those autumn Sundays a living hell.

Well, if that's the way they feel, then that's the way they feel. That leaves us with "the Figueroa corridor" plan, with a new hockey-basketball arena down the block from a restored Coliseum, with liberty and Super Bowls for all. Mayor Riordan will have acted on behalf of downtown Los Angeles, and the Coliseum will become an even more beautiful place . . . for soccer and USC football.

In the meantime, in place of Mr. O'Malley, this town's beloved baseball team would be owned by Mr. Murdoch, who, with any luck at all, will still grill the Dodger Dogs and won't use the DiamondVision scoreboard to promote this week's episodes of "America's Most Wanted" and "Cops."

Better yet, maybe another buyer will turn up at the last minute. I only hope it's not those guys who own the Kings. First thing they would do is make the Dodgers move to Figueroa.

* DODGER SALE IS NEAR: Peter O'Malley says the city's rebuff of his football plans affected his decision to sell. A1

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