Wednesday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced its plans to take over the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Commissioner Bud Selig said his "deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball" prompted him to make the decision. We now turn to the fallout.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told the media he assured his players "this doesn't affect you guys" and "it's your responsibility to play hard, to concentrate and to focus on what you're doing." Both he and manager Don Mattingly cited MLB's recent takeover of the MLB-controlled Texas Rangers, who advanced to the World Series in 2010, as an example of the ideal for which their club will strive.
That is, of course, the positive spin coming from the league and the team. There are real questions, perhaps with negative answers, that have yet to be answered.
Eric Stephen, elsewhere on SB Nation Los Angeles, says the writing is now on the wall for owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, whose bitter divorce has distracted the media and fans from the team's performance on the field. Issues with attendance reflect waning interest in Dodger baseball, says Stephen:
During the Dodgers' second homestand of the year, three of the last five games have had crowds under 30,000, something that hasn't happened since 2004. Don't forget, that number reflects tickets sold; judging by the actual number of people at the park, it appears attendance has been far lower.
Writing for ESPN Los Angeles, David Schoenfield contrasts the Dodgers' current predicament with the prosperous first few years of their presence in Los Angeles. Though he notes the Dodgers have made four postseason trips in the McCourts' seven years owning the team, he also says L.A. is on the decline. He also asks seven questions the team now must answer, among them, "If the Dodgers are fighting for a playoff spot (or dumping payroll), how does an MLB executive make a deal that won't potentially upset another franchise?"
Indeed, the Dodgers have more questions than answers at the moment. No team needs these sorts of distractions, but especially not one that's lost six of its last 10 games and already faces a 4.5-game deficit in its division.