Los Angeles Times: Bill Plaschke (barf) talks to the key figures in the new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership.
For now, as the initial celebration fades and the close examination begins, Dodger fans need to see proof that this dream team won’t just turn into another nightmare.
“You know I’m going to do this right,” promised Johnson. “I would not be putting millions of my dollars into this if we weren’t going to do it right.”
The questioning started here with Johnson. Will he be more than just a new Dodger face and voice? Will he have the freedom to help run the Dodgers with his considerable business acumen and competitive spirit?
“You want to know Magic’s title? It’s owner,” Kasten said.
Johnson confirmed that he has already picked out a Dodger Stadium office and that, while he still has other business interests, this will be his main job and focus.
“I take, very seriously, the honor of being a minority owner in an organization where Jackie Robinson played,” Johnson said. “I’ll be there every day, fans will see me every day, I’ll be working hard to spread the word about how we’re going to make this a great franchise again.”
I think we’ve known all along that he was a figurehead, but he’s an awesome figurehead, so whatever.
Walter said he will remain in the background of the club’s daily operations, allowing Kasten to oversee baseball and business matters while Johnson is the caretaker of the image.
“I’m a baseball fan, but I’m not qualified to make baseball decisions, and I don’t want to pretend to be,” said Walter. “I’m here to support and help my people as much as I can. I’m here to cheer as loud as I can.”
But since he still controls the purse strings, the bucks still stop with him, no? Will he give Kasten the freedom to spend them? How does he view the idea of paying the sort of big money for the sort of big free agents that the Dodgers have avoided signing during most of their 14-year championship drought?
“Stan has a very proven formula for building a team that doesn’t win one year, but wins 12 years in a row [Atlanta Braves], so for me to tell him how you build that is completely inappropriate,” said Walter. “But having said that, we really want to win, and it’s OK if, while we’re producing the best players in the world, we also have the best players in the world on our field.”
In other words, said Johnson, “We are going to have all the resources available to us to put a championship team on the field.”
Oh dear, I think I’m in love.
“We understand what we just bought, we understand what it needs to be,” said Kasten. “We make more money when we win. We are real cognizant of that. While we want to build a long-term plan, we want to have a winner now.”
To understand Kasten’s baseball philosophy, check out his Atlanta Braves team that won the 1995 World Series. His front office was led by powerful General Manager John Schuerholz. His starting rotation was led by a high-priced free agent, Greg Maddux. His everyday lineup was filled with homegrown stars like Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko and David Justice.
“I believe in scouting and player development, and a starting rotation,” Kasten said. “With both, anything is possible. Without both, nothing is possible.”
It’s just words, and I prefer actions, but they are saying literally everything right so far.
Haven’t been this excited about the team since they swept the Chicago Cubs in the 2008 NLDS.
Los Angeles Times: Walter Hamilton takes a look at the Guggenheim Partners.
Guggenheim Partners is connected to the family of Meyer Guggenheim, who came to the U.S. in the 1840s and made a fortune in mining. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is named after the family.
Peter Lawson Johnston II, a great-grandson of the Guggenheim’s patriarch, launched the financial services company in 2000. The company is run day to day by chief executive Mark Walter and executive chairman Alan Schwartz, the former CEO of Bear Stearns & Co.
The firm is a full-fledged investment bank in the mold of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Guggenheim has become a big player in commercial real estate debt, managing the type of investments that tripped up so many big Wall Street firms during the global financial crisis.
Guggenheim has varied holdings, including being a co-owner of the company that operates the Hollywood Reporter.
It has a large investment operation in Santa Monica, with more than 200 of its 1,700 employees based there. The firm manages about $125 billion in assets.
Mining, huh? It’s like they’re trolling Josh Macciello.
MLB.com: Richard Justice with a nice profile on Kasten.
He has some unshakeable core beliefs about running a baseball team. He believes the fan experience should be pleasant, that teams must be accountable to their customers. And he believes teams should be built from the inside through scouting and player development.
If he’s approved, he’ll surely use the work done by Cox and Schuerholz with the Braves as a blueprint for how to run the Dodgers.
He’s also a student of the game’s history and will almost certainly both understand and tap into the things that have made the Dodgers special, from the former players who created the team’s aura to the ballpark that is one of the signature destinations in Major League Baseball.
In both Atlanta and Washington, he told his employees that there really was no magic formula to succeeding. It was a matter of doing things right and getting better every single day.
Fox Sports: Ken Rosenthal believes Kasten will be the difference maker for the product on the field as well.
Wall Street Journal: Scott Austin has short blurbs on all those involved in the new ownership of the Dodgers.
ESPN Los Angeles: Jon Weisman has a to-do list for the new owners.
The bottom line is, you can’t expect perfection, but you can demand excellence. Every effort must be made at making the best possible decision a thousand times over.
The new owners might fail. But, finally, Dodgers fans can at least say there’s hope.
Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness: Mike Petriello gives 19 random thoughts on the new ownership of the team.
Dodgers Now: Dodgers players give their thoughts on the new owners, including Juan Rivera and Juan Uribe, who hadn’t heard of the deal until Dylan Hernandez told them.
Dodgers Now: What do Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol think about Magic Johnson‘s involvement with the Dodgers?
The question reminded me of this: