Magic Johnson leads a group of very rich men who have purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion, and one of America’s most beloved athletes now has a minority stake in one of America’s most popular sports franchises. The play for the Dodgers effectively ends (well, mostly ends) Frank McCourt’s nightmarish tenure as owner, and seemingly ushers in a new era for the francise’s fans.
Out is McCourt’s messy divorce case, embarrassing bankruptcy filings, and inability to protect people from getting beaten nearly to death in the parking lot. In is Magic’s beaming face. Everyone wins, and the town is saved.
OR IS IT?
The L.A. Times’ TJ Simers, ever the Dodgers pessimist, would like everyone to take a deep breath. Because, according to him, there are some potential downfalls to Earvin’s New Deal. Namely: Lon Rosen, Magic’s former agent (he drove Magic to the doctor’s office on the day Magic received the news that he was HIV-positive) and most trusted advisor.
I hear Magic Johnson’s name and I’m wondering who picks Nancy Bea Hefley up off the floor knowing Lon Rosen is attached at the hip to Magic.
You remember Rosen, who was Magic’s agent and who now works at Magic Johnson Enterprises. He worked for Frank McCourt’s Dodgers, scaling back Hefley’s work on the organ while turning up the volume on the music in Dodger Stadium and silencing Ross Porter.
According to Simers, Rosen had some not-so-good ideas during the McCourt Era.
He helped come up with the slogan “This is L.A. Baseball.” Got paid for it, too. He also took notice of the Angels’ Rally Monkey and explored the idea of the Dodgers’ having their own mascot for the first time in franchise history.
Too bad he was fired before he got the chance to put together a Rally Dog campaign.
Now maybe Magic is smart enough to put a leash on Rosen and allow him nowhere near Dodger Stadium again.
Overall, there are too many good things about this deal for L.A. fans to get hung up on one guy who suggested the organization implement a variation on the Rally Monkey. Chiefly:
Magic Johnson will instantly increase free agent interest in a team that, recently, wasn’t always sure it could pay its players.
Magic Johnson will attract fans to a ballpark where, again, a guy almost got beaten to death.
An important point here is that Magic, although the new face of the Dodgers, won’t be pulling the day-to-day strings. The main money man is a guy named Mark Walter, who is the CEO of Guggenheim Partners, a Chicago-based finance firm. And the person who will actually be running the club is Stan Kasten, former president of the Braves and Nationals.
But, again: having Magic Johnson be the face of anything is a good idea. Selling used cars? You want Magic as the face of your franchise. Opening a TGI Friday’s? Get Magic. Baby formula? IT’S SHOWTIME!
Trying to get people to come see your baseball team, even though it has been an absolute nightmare in every conceivable way since the 2009 NLCS? Magic is your man.
Overall, this can’t be seen as anything but a win for L.A.