The Los Angeles Dodgers hadn’t won a World Series since 1988 until Wednesday of this week.
My thoughts went back to a visit I had with retired Cincinnati Reds executive John Allen at Reds spring training in 2012. Allen had just completed an assignment to monitor the financial side of the Dodgers on behalf of Major League Baseball which had seized ownership of the club.
Here’s the backstory. The once prosperous franchise ran into disarray under the ownership of Frank McCourt during the early part of the new century when McCourt borrowed heavily to buy the team. The real estate magnate then utilized the team’s increasing value and profitability to extend his primary interest. He borrowed further from many sources, especially the Dodgers. It was often said that the storied baseball team “was his personal ATM” for his real estate exploits.
The national economy tanked in 2008 and he was sued for divorce a year later with the Dodgers being held hostage in the settlement process. Both husband and wife wanted to own the team and a messy situation got worse as real estate values plummeted. Eventually MLB took the team over to clean up the situation and select a new owner. The McCourts were out but would be paid.
MLB selected two retired executives to provide stability, one on the baseball side and one to oversee the business. Allen was ideal on the latter side He had run the Reds and is a Certified Public Accountant. After several months things were on firm footing and Allen headed back to retirement in Kansas.
I saw John at the next spring training and asked about his brief tenure in “Dodger Blue.” He responded that it had been amazing. “You wouldn’t believe all the assets and revenue streams,” he began. “MLB is reviewing five outstanding bids from potential ownership groups. The winner will bring in great management and the Dodgers will win. They’ll have plenty of money.”
…..and now they have their first championship in 32 years…..appropriate since one of their owners used to wear that number for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross covered Reds spring training from 1991-2018 and is a lifelong Reds and baseball fan.