Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dodgers' Management Style: Bold, Albeit With Risk

The Dodgers win the 2013 NLDS, and suddenly we're talking about how bold and aggressive and risk-taking the Dodgers are. Look, risk goes both ways; we were one more bunt attempt away from probably losing this series! But alas, we won, and as such, the revisionist history begins, starting with this Ramona Shelburne piece:

LOS ANGELES -- At the very end, when the deal really gets done, there are only two people in the room. One who wants something, the other who has to give it up. The negotiation is over; only the prize remains.

On the night of March 27, 2012, Mark Walter called former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt directly and asked for a meeting -- man to man, buyer to seller -- and said, "Let's do this now." The final auction with all the other bidders for the Los Angeles Dodgers was scheduled to take place the next morning. Walter wasn't about to wait around to see what happened. He wanted the franchise, and he was prepared to make the largest offer in history for a professional sports franchise to acquire it.

But this was it. No more lawyers. No more accountants. No more negotiation. The deal needed to get done that night.

"We really wanted to get the team," said Walter, now the Dodgers' chairman. "We'd been through a number of rounds [of bidding on the team], we had the contracts in front of us. I just thought instead of waiting to see what happened, we'd just put our best offer out there and say, 'This is it.'"

Final offer, take it or see if somebody else will give you $2.15 billion once we're out of the bidding. It was a huge gamble. McCourt could've called his bluff and played that massive final offer against the other bidders in the morning for a sweeter deal.

But Walter and his partners were only going to play it one way. [...]

How they each got to the same point of view isn't nearly as important as the ways in which they so clearly share it. How they all share it. From top to bottom, the Dodgers have become risk-takers.

If there's an envelope to push, they're pushing it.

If there's a prize to be won, they're spending or doing whatever it takes to get it.

"People thought we were crazy," part-owner Magic Johnson said of the record $2.15 billion purchase from McCourt. "But you pay for what you want."

Actually, people have called them crazy on several occasions. The trade for Gonzalez, Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto last season was derided as a significant overreach. The $147 million contract for Zack Greinke this winter was considered excessive. The $42 million for Puig last summer was reckless.

"What's the alternative?" Walter said. "Not get the Dodgers? Not get Puig? I don't think L.A. is used to that. L.A. is used to winners."

Revisionist history or not, I do hope Shelburne is right. Bring us a winner, Guggenheim Group! Be bold!