I give all due credit to Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News for raising the topic of community ownership of the Dodgers and giving it a realistic appraisal. It has generated a lot of online conversation, which you can follow at his blog, Farther Off the Wall.
Having said that, can I tell you just how much I hate this idea? I don’t just mean that it’s unrealistic, which it is, as pretty much everyone concedes. I mean it is really, really unappealing to me.
Don’t construe my response as an endorsement of anyone named McCourt as owner – far from it. But fan ownership to me is completely not the answer in my mind. It is the fire that has the potential to make the frying pan look comfy.
Has everyone gotten amnesia about what it’s like when a group of Dodger fans talk about what’s best for the team? Opinions, to eschew a coarser term, are like snowflakes – none are the same. Now imagine millions of them at once. The cacophony of disagreement would be deafening. And yet somehow, a person or persons hired by the fans to run the team would somehow transcend all of this and make everyone happy? I’m not buying that for a second. Yes, they would put the Dodgers’ interests over swimming pools, but the thrill would end there.
The last thing I want to do is make this a political discussion, but as an example, we do gather as a community and choose someone to run something rather near and dear to us – it’s called the city of Los Angeles. And as we can say, some things would get solved, but it’s not like all our problems go away. Given the impatience of most of the fan base in Los Angeles, the instability for the Dodgers in almost every aspect of the organization would probably be like nothing we’ve ever seen before (which is saying something in this era). In my mind, community ownership would essentially turn the Dodgers into a political football – a sport I have no interest seeing the team play.
The best hope for the Dodgers is for a responsible ownership to come in and support a responsible front office. That in itself is much easier said than done, but whatever happens, if we have stuff to complain about, at least we’d be complaining at them, not at each other. On the upside, we could end up with something like the Lakers, whom I think are fine to consider a role model in this respect – not perfect, but much better than what a few million co-owners would achieve.
My vision of community ownership brings to mind the final moments of “The Graduate,” with Ben and Elaine on the bus, having finally gotten together, and saddled with those gloomy “Now what?” expressions on their faces. And even so, I give Ben and Elaine more hope than I’d give the fans who own the Los Angeles Dodgers.