The Fans Speak: New Dodger Owners Are Succeeding
The Dodgers got off to a terrible start, then made a dramatic recovery and reached the Al-Star break with a 47-47 record, good enough to be a contender in the Western Division.
It remains to be seen if they’ll continue their recent surge. But one conclusion can be drawn. Fans are very happy with the new ownership.
The fans spoke their mind when more than 206,000 turned out to see the Dodgers play the Colorado Rockies last weekend.
It was the fifth largest turnout in Dodger Stadium history for a four-game series.
After eight years of Frank McCourt, fans obviously are thrilled that the group headed by Mark Walter and Magic Johnson, featuring Stan Kasten in the front office, has rescued the Dodgers.
These guys spend plenty on players. I caution you that the biggest spenders don’t always win championships, but constantly upgrading the roster gives a franchise a good chance of succeeding most of the time.
Ricky Nolasco, who pitched Sunday, was with Miami and it was likely the Marlins were going to trade him. Of the various bidders, the Dodgers emerged.
That’s one example. A more sensational one is Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers were acquiring big-time talent such as Carl Crawford, yet they made $42 million available to sign a kid from Cuba who was going to start the season in the minor leagues.
It so happened that Puig came on so fast he was called up and energized the Dodgers as they rushed toward the top of their division.
Then there’s the stadium. It’s been modernized and I hear fans raving about it. More improvements are planned too.
On the field, Manager Don Mattingly now has more options, like being able to rotate four outstanding outfielders.
On Sunday, Crawford and Puig weren’t in the starting lineup as let injuries heal. The Dodgers lost the game but they have experienced reserves Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston Jr. who can give the regulars some rest. It’s a good roster now.
A lot will be determined right after the All-Star break. The Dodgers have some challenging games coming up, including a trip to Washington to play the Nationals and a home series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Vin Scully told me Sunday he won’t be broadcasting for 17 days, the longest inactive stretch in his career. It’s just the way the schedule turned out. First there’s the All-Star break. He doesn’t work games in the East, which will follow. Personally, I’ll miss his Hall Of Fame work a lot.
But a good portion of the season when everything is decided comes up later.
Will Matt Kemp regain his stroke? Will Puig cool off or continue to amaze? Will another team in the division get hot like the Dodgers did?
There’s a lot of interest. The change of ownership has made it clear they’re sincere about making the Dodgers a factor in pennant races.
The fans notice and show their appreciation by showing up.