When the book is written on the Los Angeles Dodgers, let it be noted that when Frank McCourt’s tenure ended, the league and others got their digs in. Few owners have been formally (and informally) beaten up so much when they left the building.
McCourt surely deserved it, but one wonders just how bad it really was.
In most all businesses there are guidelines for internal and external communication. The term “information for public consumption” is something that most every PR exec worth their salt has passing over their lips often. So, it was somewhat surprising just how hard Commissioner Selig hit McCourt on the way out the door and how new ownership made a clear point of distancing themselves from the embattled former owner.
Here is Selig’s statement that was released with my highlighting of words (carefully crafted, mind you) that were clearly meant to sting McCourt:
“After a long and difficult road, the sale of the Dodgers is now complete, and I am pleased that the club can have the fresh start it deserves under new ownership. I congratulate Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and all of their partners, and I look forward to working with them. In addition, I want to personally thank all Dodger fans for their patience and loyalty during this trying period. I have said many times that we owed it to them to ensure that the club was being operated properly and would be guided appropriately in the future. It is my great hope and firm expectation that today’s change in ownership marks the start of a new era for the Los Angeles Dodgers and that this historic franchise will once again make the city of Los Angeles proud.
“Despite going through bankruptcy court, this process required the same due diligence and analysis that any other sale would demand. Through all the challenges of this highly unique situation, our requirements were met. Ultimately, the sale produced a record figure in all of sports, illustrating the strength of our industry.
“The 2012 season is off to a remarkable start. As we welcome the new stewards of the Dodgers, I am grateful that the unbecoming events of recent years are behind us and the focus can be squarely on the field, where the Dodgers currently hold the best record in the National League.”
For those counting, that’s seven all-too-clear comments about Selig’s dislike for McCourt. Along with the comments, there is the absence of any positive statements about McCourt, something that Selig and the league nearly always do when there is an outgoing owner.
Now, see what Magic Johnson said during the press conference on Wednesday where the new ownership group was introduced. Johnson made the following statement when asked what role McCourt would have as part of the group that will develop the 300 acres surrounding Dodger Stadium:
"Frank McCourt is not involved in any shape and fashion," Johnson said. "Frank is not here. He's not a part of the Dodgers any more. We should be clapping just for that."
It’s adamantly clear that as part of the rebuilding of the Dodger brand, one of the very first steps is to clearly distance yourself from McCourt wherever possible. If Selig said such things in a public statement, imagine what he said to the new ownership group of the club.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook