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Dodgers' new owners shouldn't repeat mistakes of the past

T.J. SIMERS

The Guggenheim folks have some explaining to do, starting with the claim about McCourt's share of parking lot revenue. Something isn't right here, and we just went through that with the McCourts.

May 08, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • Dodgers co-owner Stan Kasten signs autographs before Monday's game against the San Francisco Giants.
Dodgers co-owner Stan Kasten signs autographs before Monday's game… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Which is it?

Either Magic Johnson, the face of the Dodgers, is clueless on how the organization will be run ...

Or he knew he wasn't telling the truth when he became the dominating voice of last week's news conference and told the media enough already with the questions about Frank McCourt.

We can all understand "enough already with Frank McCourt," but the Guggenheim folks should have taken that into consideration when they bought the Dodgers.

Now they have some explaining to do.

But so far for Magic, it's been one turnover after the next.

He wants to "build on the fantastic foundation" laid by McCourt, misjudges fan sentiment and sits beside him on opening day, and now is emphatic in saying McCourt won't get a dime from parking.

Our Bill Shaikin reported the new owners of the Dodgers will pay $14 million a year to an entity half owned by Frank McCourt for renting the parking lots.

That's a lot of dimes.

Something isn't right here, and we just went through that.

Some of us were suspicious of the McCourts from the day they arrived as owners. It took almost eight years and a divorce to convince the mayor, Dodgers fans and other columnists in town the team was being mishandled.

Now I have those same suspicions about Guggenheim, and it's Guggenheim's fault because it has misread Los Angeles.

Transparency, as McCourt promised from the start and never delivered, should have been Guggenheim's plan of attack from the outset.

Mark Walter should have stood at the microphone and said, "What do you want to know?"

If you're going to include McCourt as partner, his role with the organization should be detailed on fliers and passed out to everyone sitting in Dodger Stadium.

Why be so evasive? What's the big secret about who owns what? How much does Walter own? Magic? Stan Kasten? Who are they hiding those totals from?

The operative pitch so far has been one of deception.

Magic Johnson is not the owner of the Dodgers.

To introduce him as so, as the new ownership group is doing, is to mislead Dodgers fans.

He has a small piece of a $2-billion-plus property.

Last week's news conference in Dodger Stadium appeared to be a farce. I was in Memphis watching and listening on the Internet, and if ever there was a news conference in which the media should have walked out, this was it.

Why is the mayor speaking? He almost spent more time in McCourt's owner's box at Dodger Stadium than Tom Lasorda. Is he here to tell us now what a great judge of character he is after spending a little time with Walter?

Why is some City Council member speaking? This is a news conference to get answers, and no City Council member has the answers folks would like to hear.

Who cares whether a bunch of old-time Dodgers are sitting in center field unless they are going to ask Walter questions?

Peter O'Malley was there to certify the new owners as good for the Dodgers. Peter vouched for the McCourts when they wanted to become Jonathan Club members.

Vin Scully said a lot of nice things about the new owners. I would never criticize Scully — until now. How does he know what they stand for in such a short time?

He used to sit beside McCourt in his TV booth, and good soldier that he is, he apparently didn't say, "No, I don't want to be associated with someone who has apparently done so many bad things."

When it came time to take questions almost an hour into the song-and-dance routine in Dodger Stadium, Jim Hill asked Magic how he felt about being owner of the Dodgers. Magic cried.

I wasn't there, so I'm guessing he bawled when he became a minority owner of his beloved Lakers. I wonder whether he cried when he sold his interest in the Lakers.

The McCourts made a cottage business out of hiring image makers to help them pull things over on Dodgers fans. Guggenheim hired Magic.

No one learned anything at that news conference except that McCourt wasn't going to get a dime from the parking lots, and apparently that wasn't a fact.

McCourt came from Boston, using other people's money to buy the Dodgers. Walter comes from Chicago, apparently using other people's money to buy the Dodgers.

Why should someone be skeptical? Maybe everything they are doing is on the up and up. So why does it feel semantics are involved in every question and answer provided?

If there is a provision for naming rights at Dodger Stadium, why make it sound as if it's never been discussed and just popped up in the small print?

Why is Walter thanking his wife and daughter? Shouldn't he be thanking the folks who bought life insurance, allowing their premiums to help Walter buy the Dodgers?

Why is Kasten telling The Times a few days after the news conference, "I regret we left that impression," after telling everyone McCourt would make no money from the Dodgers beyond future development of stadium property?

Does he just regret being caught?

As e-mailer Colin Thomas put it: "You can't make this stuff up. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

There is no question new ownership is just trying to gloss things over rather than explain their intentions. But why?

Do I have this all wrong?

I'll be in Memphis with the Clippers for Game 5, but if Walter returns to Chicago, I'll be happy to make a stop Thursday and let him do what he should have done last week. He's the guy who needs to answer questions.

If he's still parked in L.A., he just needs to give me a call to set up something. All he has to do is ask McCourt, his partner, for my number.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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