An early history of McCourt concerns

Several people remarked online Tuesday that they were worried about the possibility that the next Dodger owner could be awful as well. There’s no guarantee that won’t be true. But as I wrote Tuesday, that widespread wariness at the outset of the process, from the commissioner’s office on down, should make a disaster much less likely.

Back when Fox was first selling the Dodgers, wariness was a relatively lonely place to be … though it did spread. From the Dodger Thoughts archives:

March 5, 2003:

When News Corp. purchased the Dodgers near the end of 1997, the new owners fixated so much on how much money they could wring out of the operation immediately, that they failed to consider what was best for the long term. As a result, they and the people they hired made detrimental decisions that have prevented the team from being successful, financially or otherwise, for years.

Amazingly, as News Corp. prepares to sell the team in 2003, it’s becoming clear that things could very well get worse.

James Flanigan’s article in the Business section of the Los Angeles Times today is sobering. It points out that the interests of leading ownership candidates for the Dodgers are every bit as crass, if not more so, than those of News Corp. …

October 10, 2003:

… Paranoiacs, start your engines. This means people like me, who don’t assume that things like ownership can’t go from bad to worse. It’s bad enough that Schwarzenegger says he can balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting essential programs. What will McCourt’s plans for the team contain?

Having said that, I’ll try to be positive. Most of all, I’ll try not to jump to conclusions, positive or negative, about McCourt, until more information comes in. I feel like I know less about this guy than (take your pick) Nottingham knew about Robin Hood or Iowa knew about Prof. Harold Hill.

November 17, 2003 (a personal favorite):

In response to Monday’s challenge to Frank McCourt, an e-mail thread between Dan Reines and Jon Weisman:

Dan: Jon, you said what I’d been thinking. I’ve got some serious doubts already.

I feel like I’m all dolled up and nursing a Manhattan at a restaurant bar, watching man after man walk through the door and wondering which one’s the blind date. And it’s getting late, and I’ve been waiting nearly an hour, and the bartender keeps asking if I want another, and I’m really starting to wonder if I’ve been stood up.

Frank McCourt, don’t stand me up! I’m a sure thing, baby, a rebound! All you have to do is buy me dinner, open the door for me, treat me nice. All you have to do is not be Rupert Murdoch. That’s it, Frank. It’s so easy.

Please don’t tease me, Frank. Please don’t be cruel. I’m really vulnerable right now.

Jon: Thanks, Dan. I guess I’m like the jaded divorcee who is starting to think that all the good ones are taken, and the rest ain’t worth even a one-night stand.

Dan: Yes. And your sister just met a really nice guy named Arte, and that hurts as much as it helps, doesn’t it?

I could go on all day with this metaphor, Jon. It just feels right.

Jon: Oh, it feels right now, Dan, but what about in the morning?

Dan: Screw the morning, Jon. I’m drunk and haven’t had a man in seven months.

Okay, I think I found the limit to this metaphor. Hm. …

January 29, 2004:

Frank McCourt makes me feel powerless.

He could be the next great disaster for the Dodgers. Or, he could be a hidden treasure of, well, adequacy.

But how disturbing is it that after Thursday’s press conference to discuss his purchase of the team, there is nothing that actually inspires confidence? Every potential positive statement made by or about McCourt had to be qualified.

Whatever the future holds, good or bad … today, the Dodgers really seem to belong to someone else. Maybe this feeling will go away, but they don’t feel like the city’s team right now. They don’t feel like our team.

Literally, they never were ours, but figuratively, they were. Not today.

Consider this: throughout the entire day, I didn’t find a note of celebration that the News Corp. (majority) ownership of the Dodgers was over. Can you believe this? A few months ago, the city of Los Angeles would have held a bonfire of revelry at Fox’s departure. Today, there’s just uncertainty.

It’s perhaps the oddest feeling I’ve observed in following the Dodgers. …

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