Powers like Dodgers allow game to thrive
Parity is fine. Actually, it's pretty good, but only if it doesn't keep certain teams and cities from seeking dominance.
That's because dominance is fine. Actually, it's also pretty good, particularly when it involves those teams and cities with the ability to draw attention across the planet in their direction for long stretches.
Everybody associated with Major League Baseball should get one of those rhythmic beats going that was used in the old days of hip-hop, then say at the top of their lungs while chanting, "Go Dodgers, get busy. Go Dodgers, get busy. Go Dodgers, get busy. Go Dodgers, get busy."
More specifically, "Go Mark Walter," as in the primary financial leader of the group that bought the Dodgers from Frank McCourt earlier this season for more than $2 billion. "Go Stan Kasten," as in the noted baseball man who is running the day-to-day operations. "Go Magic Johnson," as in the smiling face of it all as a Los Angeles icon.
That terrific trio of Walter, Kasten and Johnson is definitely getting busy, matching its words with action. Big-time.
Whether the Dodgers get immediate or long-range results from their recent mega-trade with the Boston Red Sox is secondary to this: The Dodgers are thinking the way that all big-market teams should think, and the operative word here is gigantic.
In this case, we're talking about approximately $260 million worth of "gigantic," since that's how much payroll the Dodgers zapped away from the Red Sox in acquiring four-time All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, speedy outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto.
Remember, too, that the Dodgers spent July making a deal with the Marlins for former All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez and his contract, which had an outstanding balance of around $37 million. The Dodgers also got accomplished veterans Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton from the Philadelphia Phillies.
The more the Dodgers seek to become the New York Yankees, the better it is for everybody in the game.
First of all, it's OK for the Yankees to continue as the Yankees -- you know, through the decades, baseball's most successful franchise at doing whatever it takes to stay potent, relevant and interesting.
Except for the coming of Kenesaw Mountain Landis as commissioner, nothing helped the game more after the 1919 Black Sox Scandal than the arrival of Babe Ruth to the most important city in the world. His slugging turned the Yankees and baseball into an obsession. Then, after the Yankees got Lou Gehrig, the pinstriped formula was set forever for the benefit of everybody in the sport.
That pinstriped formula? You keep seeking the next Ruth, the next Gehrig, the next Joe DiMaggio, the next Berra, the next Mantle, the next Jackson, the next Winfield, the next Rivera and the next Jeter.
You keep seeking World Series championships, period.
For the hundreds of thousands who love the Yankees for such a formula, you have nearly as many who dislike them.
But you have few who ignore them.
As a result, you always have huge national television ratings for the Yankees, which brings more attention to baseball, and before long, you have more revenue generated throughout the game.
Here's something else: The Yankees' yearly thirst for power has triggered an arms race with the Red Sox, and that has also been splendid for baseball. Just like New York and Los Angeles, Boston is a city that draws universal attention -- especially when its baseball team has the potential for wonderful things.
Chicago matters along these lines, but only to a point. No matter what the White Sox do, they will consistently rank a distant second behind the Cubs both locally and nationally. And although the Cubs haven't won a pennant since 1945 or a World Series since 1908, they've become the epitome of the lovable losers.
Then there is Los Angeles.
Baseball needs the Angels to maintain their aggressive approach toward remaining a force beyond just a few years, which involved the club spending $240 million before the season on Albert Pujols and another $77.5 million on C.J. Wilson.
Even more, baseball needs the Dodgers of now to keep trying to become the Dodgers of old. They were once the Yankees of the National League when it came to baseball royalty.
In addition to Tommy Lasorda and the Big Dodger In the Sky, they had the guy who broke baseball's color barrier in Jackie Robinson. They had a premier ballpark in Dodger Stadium. They had a pitching legacy that spanned from Don Newcombe to Sandy Koufax to Don Drysdale to Fernando Valenzuela to Orel Hershiser. They had speedster Maury Wills and sluggers Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and Steve Garvey.
They also had a slew of home sellouts resulting from all of the above combined with teams that contended each season for division titles, pennants and World Series titles.
As for the Dodgers of now, they haven't won a World Series since 1988. That's the last time they reached one. Not only that, at the end of the McCourt regime, the Dodgers finished 80-82 in 2010 and 82-79 the following season. Worse, there were no signs of this franchise escaping mediocrity without a long struggle.
Then along came that terrific trio, with its dynamic duo of money and optimism, and Hollywood is glowing more.
So is baseball.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.