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A new Dodgers owner? Be careful what you wish for

T.J. SIMERS

The assumption for Dodgers fans is that anyone will be better than Frank McCourt, and his selling the team can't be anything but good. But there's so much we don't know, and a lot that could go wrong.

January 28, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier sits out a game against the Chicago Cubs because of elbow inflammation last spring.
Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier sits out a game against the Chicago Cubs… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Anyone is better than Frank McCourt.

Listen to me — I'm starting to sound like the Screaming Meanie.

But in truth, we don't know.

The new owner of the Dodgers will not be selected because he considers the team a local treasure.

It will not matter if he's a good guy, makes himself available to the fans like Arte Moreno or treats the Dodgers like just another investment in his portfolio.

There's no way of knowing whether he will be from New York and have the Dodgers wearing their Brooklyn duds more, spend like the Red Sox or replace Nancy Bea Hefley with a mascot.

He could be the guy who owns the Rams, and how good were they this season?

Right now, we just don't know because the only thing that matters is how McCourt benefits from someone else becoming owner.

So with the second round of bidding underway, I was wondering if anyone besides McCourt is really assured of being better off with such a change.

Certainly not Page 2.

Unless the new guy turns out to be a bigger Bozo with Kim Kardashian as his wife — now there's someone who really could be the face of the Dodgers — it's just not going to be as easy pickings without the Parking Lot Attendant and Screaming Meanie.

And no way of knowing yet if you will be better off, no matter what you think of the Parking Lot Attendant.

Some folks probably thought the Dodgers could do no worse than Fox's ownership.

Change is difficult. This one will certainly involve higher ticket prices as the Parking Lot Attendant has lowered them for this season and the new guy will be paying more than $1 billion to please McCourt.

The payroll and stadium are going to need an upgrade. And just because the new guy isn't McCourt doesn't mean he's not going to eventually hit Dodgers fans with the bill.

If he's a loser, and there's no guarantee just because he's replacing McCourt that he's going to be a winner, it's going to take more than Magic Johnson waving to the crowd every night to keep folks happy.

And what about Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti? Do you think they're going to be happy with the new guy?

Do you think the new owner is going to maintain the status quo? Let me help you: No!

No one is going to be safe. When Fox bought the Dodgers, Mike Piazza was a goner. And when Bob Daly took command, he essentially banished Tom Lasorda.

If I'm the PR guy for the Dodgers, I'm already sending out my resume. Oh, that's right, he did and he now works for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Most of the Dodgers can't be very happy with the prospect of having a new owner. A new owner will arrive talking about making a winner out of the Dodgers. And he's certainly not going to be able to do that with the likes of most of these guys.

Matt Kemp might be happy with a new contract. But how will he feel when he realizes a new owner would have paid anything to keep him from leaving for New York or Boston had Kemp waited and become a free agent?

Until we learn who pleases McCourt the most, I can think of only one person who might benefit from all this no matter what happens: Andre Ethier.

Forgot about him, didn't you?

There was a time around here when Ethier and Kemp were almost interchangeable. Ethier was sixth in MVP voting in 2009, an All-Star the last two years and a Gold Glove winner this past season.

Then Kemp left Ethier behind and so far so the Dodgers are essentially done with him. They gave him a one-year contract, which makes him free to walk after this season.

There aren't supposed to be many attractive free agents available next off-season, so a productive Ethier would almost certainly be in demand, giving everyone a chance to learn something about the team's new owner.

But first, Ethier will have to overcome Ethier and his relentless insecurity. He began last season telling the media he might be released, and finished saying the team was making him play even though he said he was injured.

When challenged by management, he changed his whine. But his teammates wrote him off as being selfish, many turning away from him.

"I apologize," Ethier says by telephone from Arizona. "I've made a lot of mistakes and I should have handled things better.

"I'm not trying to win a popularity contest in the clubhouse but I'm also not trying to be a bad guy. I was hobbling around so I wasn't a great teammate; they were playing and I wasn't contributing."

Ethier's knee has been repaired. "I'm not going to worry about last year or anything but living in the moment," he says. "I think we have a legit shot to compete and maybe get the one or two pieces we're missing at the halfway point."

Whatever his own fantasies, it's a dream scenario for Dodgers fans. Ethier is required to prove he has what it takes, which would then require a new owner to do the same to keep him.

But until then, we really don't know.

It'd be nice if we knew more about the plans of those bidding on the Dodgers. If only we had known more the last time around.

What's to hide? Everyone arriving next year to find a sign reading Frank McCourt Parking Lots, and the voice of the Dodgers, Eric Collins, telling everyone "It's time for Dodger baseball"?

Right now the only one the prospective new owners are trying to impress is the Parking Lot Attendant, and isn't that a kick in the rear the way McCourt botched his own ownership of the team?

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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