Dear Guggenheim Baseball Partners,
Blind faith is a rare commodity in sports. There are only a couple of owners in professional sports history who have ever been able to attain it for any extended period of time.
Magic Johnson, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, happens to have known one of those owners very well. Dr. Jerry Buss, whom many consider to be the best owner in major professional sports history, achieved absolute blind faith from the Los Angeles Lakers fan base. Laker fans didn’t need to know what Dr. Buss was up to or what the plan was for the upcoming season. They blindly put their faith and trust in him and his staff to do what was best for the organization. Questions weren’t needed and they weren’t asked. This is because Dr. Buss delivered time after time. This is what you want to attain as an owner of a major professional sports team.
You, the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, have an opportunity to earn that blind faith. What you have done for the city of Los Angeles and the Dodgers organization over the past two seasons has been immeasurable. You’ve reconstructed the franchise, invested in infrastructure, and, most importantly, given the fans hope and an exciting product to watch. While these moves ultimately benefit you and your wallets, we should and will applaud your ownership group for understanding your importance to the city and for doing your civic duty. It is commendable.
However, here comes the but…..
The cracks are beginning to show in your ownership. These cracks aren’t quite like the ones in the Chavez Ravine parking lot, but they are beginning to reveal themselves. This is the last thing you want at this point during you’re tenure. If the 2014 Dodgers are able to win the World Series and this season goes off without a hitch you will have earned blind faith from every single Dodger fan across the city and country. It’s still possible. However, you guys must fill these cracks.
The crack that I want to address in this letter is the SportsNet LA issue. Us fans are happy that you’ve launched your own network and sold the distribution rights to Time Warner Cable for $8.35 billion over 25 years. While we, the fans, will pay a price for the new network, most of us don’t mind IF you provide us a quality product to watch and deliver us championships. Dr. Buss understood this better than anyone. The Lakers have always had one of the most expensive tickets in town and he was selling the MOST expensive tickets in all of sports: the floor seats. However, the Lakers were always entertaining (it’s sad I have to say this in a past tense) and delivered championships. You, the Guggenheim Baseball Partners, are on your way. However, any misstep along the way may have disastrous results. Don’t let our current faith in your ownership misconstrue reality: if you mess with OUR Dodgers we will revolt. Just ask Frank McCourt.
We are at the precipice of the 2014 MLB season and, as of right now, Time Warner Cable has not reached an agreement with any of the other cable or satellite providers in the Los Angeles area to carry SportsNet LA. This is absolutely unacceptable.
The Dodgers open the 2014 season on March 22nd in Australia and we are beginning to wonder whether or not we, the Dodger faithful, will be able to watch the game on our new station. Those who have Time Warner Cable will have access to the game but all other cable or satellite users, as of right now, won’t be able to hear the immortal Vin Scully, who is making the trip to Australia, say “It’s Tiiiiiiiiime for Dodger Baseball!”. This would be unacceptable.
We understand that TWC has to make it’s money back and that they would like to charge $4-5 per subscriber; however, you’re ownership needs to make sure that TWC doesn’t mess with your product. At the end of the day this comes down to getting the Dodgers to as many homes as possible. You may have to steer TWC into offering a lower first year price to cable and satellite providers and introduce the new product to your fan base and make it an essential part of their television viewing diet.
If you’re ownership and TWC fails to deliver OUR Dodgers and Vin Scully to us by March 22nd then you can bet your bottom dollar that the Dodger fans will come after you in droves. This is absolutely the last thing you want on your hands.
Remember, blind faith is the pinnacle for owners of professional sports teams. Don’t ever let your fans believe that you’re not doing what is in the best interest of your team and your fans. If they believe they are getting screwed, even for a minute, that faith is broken and your ownership reveals another crack. Don’t allow any cracks. Build that faith up. Do what’s right. Get us our Dodgers and do it now.
Jason M Gold
Dodger fan since 1989