Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Reply From Frank McCourt To The Rash Of Open Letters To Frank McCourt

I've always found the device of "an open letter" to be a fairly hackneyed journalistic ploy, allowing a reporter to shed his or her veil of objectivity in exchange for a rant of opinions ungrounded in fact. It's not necessarily that the opinions aren't well-founded; it's the whole idea of the construct of packaging these opinions in the form of a private letter, which was not really intended to be private in the first place (since it's running as an article or blogpost).

And who the hell writes letters, anyway? And who thinks Frank McCourt actually reads anything besides legal briefs, let alone correspondence?

But, hey, if a writer can be arrogant enough to think that his or her personal-yet-not-intimate letter should merit publication, then why can't we take that device to the next logical step, and just speak on behalf of the recipient himself? And so, in response to a number of letters (some more cliched than others), here is a reply letter from Frank McCourt himself. (Sort of.)

Dear Steve, Tony, Patrick, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike,

I really appreciate the letters that you all have written to "me." Before Steve Soboroff up and left me, I had him read your words out loud to me, speaking very slowly so I would understand your opinions and sentiments.

I know you want me to sell the Dodgers, to let MLB take over and for me to pack up my bags and quietly walk away, like Manny Ramirez did when he left the Tampa Rays this year. You insinuate that my ownership...no, leadership of this franchise has been corrosive. And that the pride and tradition of the organization merits that I withdraw from their stage once and for all, for the good of the Dodgers franchise.

This is not about the Dodgers. This has not ever been about the Dodgers.

This is about me, Frank McCourt.

As you probably recall, although I tried to clarify my comments later, I believe that the McCourts are the brand, and the Dodgers are only the product. And when I say product, I mean "commodity that serves to enrich the value (and lives) of the brand." Like packaged baloney or toilet paper. Because that's all the Dodgers are, and always have been, to me: a by-product of a way for me to generate my own wealth.

And I'm not going to let that wealth be taken from me just because you think it's the right thing to do. When I look at the Dodgers, I see the leaps forward in progress that my reign has brought.

I've given the Dodgers and their fans four playoff appearances in seven years (or four appearances in eight years, if you're counting this one), as well as the first winning post-season series since 1988. I've given you a completely renovated field level concourse, complete with secret rooms of environmentally-sound, flush-free urinals. I've added Baseline Clubs and Club Seats and an All You Can Eat Pavilion. I've added fan-friendly traditions like Don't Stop Believing and God Bless America (okay, maybe both of those have run their course, but at one point people liked singing along to these).

I've retained Vin Scully. I've kept Nancy Bea Hefley. I even get Kirk Gibson to come back and visit regularly (true, as the manager of the Diamondbacks, but still).

Heck, I even hired someone dedicated to and focused on improving the fan experience. And that would have been his only priority, had he not been pulled in other directions.

I've heard that there have been some issues in the Dodgers parking lot, but really, I don't know much about them. In fact, ever since I implemented the new parking system that completely hijacked opening day, I've been staying out of parking-related issues. In fact, my style is just to shrink from controversy altogether, and just grab the spotlight when I'm bringing good tidings.

But when you try and come at me for trying to maximize my own wealth, especially when I'm just following the American way--then I'm going to fight back. My story, the story of a Boston parking lot owner turned failed Boston Red Sox buyer turned failed Anaheim Angels buyer turned failed Tampa Bay Buccaneers buyer turned opportune Los Angeles Dodgers owner, is a true Horatio Alger story rooted in the American way. I've risen from cracked asphalt to lush green fields, from the Back Bay to Hollywood.

And like red-blooded Americans, I am litigious by nature; we file lawsuits at almost 3x the rate of the UK. It's what we do here.

And you know another thing we do here? We lever up, well beyond the bounds of what is fiscally responsible. This is no different from you rolling over your credit card debt from month to month; I just have a much larger line of credit. And all those shell holding companies that I've created? This is just financial engineering to increase my ability to increase debt, a mechanism which the rich use all the time.

Taxes are for the common people. Not for me.

It's not my fault that my wife decided to have an (alleged) affair, causing me to air all of our family's dirty laundry in a grotesquely public trial, which I ultimately lost. (I'm still pursuing legal channels on that one, too.) It's not my fault that MLB attendance measures tickets sold, allowing me to obfuscate how severe the dropoff in attendance truly is (that is, until the gaping holes in stadium sections, natural for a fourth-place team ten games off the division lead, became glaringly clear). It's not my fault that awful tragedies happened in the parking lot earlier this year, shining a light on my budget cutbacks made in the security department.

No, those are all the problems of the Dodgers. Not of Frank McCourt. I've still got legions of attorneys ready to deploy and amass billable hours (which I will charge back to the team, of course), bankruptcy declarations to file, and banks willing to finance my short-term liquidity needs (albeit at ridiculous interest rates).

And I've got an array of palatial houses from which I can order my peons, as I shield myself from public derision. Let Selig eat cake.

Meanwhile, in order to get mine today, I am totally comfortable salting the hallowed ground of Dodger Stadium for all future owners to have to deal, sticking them with obligations too onerous to inherit. I care not about the future of this team. I'll be lounging in luxury while others pick through the discarded carcass of a once-proud franchise.

So it's kind of you journalist types, the guys who work an honest living and actually have a creative craft, to write me "personal" letters of appeal. But you've got it all wrong. I don't care about the Dodgers. I never did.

Appealing to a "higher cause" to try and motivate me to more altruistic actions is irrelevant, because in my mind, the team itself is totally irrelevant. The Dodgers are but a tangential means to the end of McCourt personal gain. I just want my money.

And I'll bring the whole sacred house of baseball down before I let anyone else take it away. So save your ink and column inches for someone who cares.




Kyle Baker said...

God damn, can't a Son get some comment love for his undertaking?

Sorry I'm only just now getting to this post, Sax.

Steve Sax said...

Thanks Dusty for the shout out. Man, I was lonely here for a while.

Greg Hao said...

I'm apparently a comment thread killer so I purposedly stayed away but apparently my master plan backfired on me.