Those of you who went to high school in the United States before the educational system was destroyed may remember the term “carpetbaggers.” They were the Northerners who went south after the civil war and helped prolong the agony of the South while the rest of the country was attempting to heal. The term has stuck in our lexicon and retained a very derogatory meaning. It is now applicable to the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are on course to destroy one of America’s most iconic sports franchises.
As winter turns to spring, the Boys of Summer return to the field to play the American Pastime. In Los Angeles, the Dodgers will be returning to the field amidst a self-destructive phase which began with the sale of the Boston Red Sox and was imposed in a backroom deal made by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
In 2002, the Yawkey Family Trust, long-time owners of the Red Sox, put the team up for sale. Bud Selig, a former used car salesman, pulled the rug out from under the bid by a parking lot owner, Frank McCourt, and made a deal to sell the team to John Henry, who had just sold the Florida Marlins. Selig engineered these high-stakes maneuvers in an attempt to appease Jeffrey Loria, whose Montreal Expos were taken over by the league and moved to Washington D.C., a city that had twice failed to support Major League Baseball teams and had lost those teams to Minnesota and Texas. It was a game of musical chairs and McCourt was left without one. In the true modern American tradition, he threatened to sue and Selig therefore promised him the next available franchise.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a small town out west, the O’Malley family had sold their interest in the Dodgers to Fox, the entertainment arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The Dodgers are a golden franchise, having been extremely successful since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. The O’Malley family was beloved by fans and city leaders alike. When Fox decided to sell, there were several wealthy, civic-minded multi-millionaires who would have loved to own the Dodgers. Alas, that was not to be because of the Faustian deal made by Bud Selig and foisted upon the people of Los Angeles.
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