03/28/12 5:23 PM ET
Dodgers' sale gives fans cause for excitement
By AJ Cassavell / Special to MLB.com
But when the 22-year-old Carmel, Calif., native showed up at Scottsdale Stadium for Wednesday's Cactus League game between the two teams, he held his head a little higher than usual following the sale of the Dodgers to a group headed by former Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson.
Sayad's upbeat sentiment was indicative of the general mood of Dodgers fans at Wednesday's game. Most used the words "excited" and "relieved" to describe their feelings about the sale of the team following a year of turmoil that centered around the club's bankruptcy and its impending sale.
"It's been a day all Dodgers fans have been waiting for, and it took far too long," Sayad said. "You see Matt Kemp and the numbers he put up last year, and then you see [current owner] Frank McCourt is on the front page and Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw aren't getting any credit."
Now with the deal in place, Dodgers fans are happy to have 2011 in the past, and their focus strictly on baseball. For what seemed like an eternity, most of the national headlines surrounding the Dodgers had to do with the bankruptcy, the divorce of McCourt from his wife Jamie, or the beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow outside of Dodger Stadium on Opening Day last March.
Tuesday night was what Sayad termed "the best night to be a Dodger fan in a while." Sayad said the minute he heard the news he started texting his friends and headed to Twitter and Facebook to discuss the deal.
The sale of the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium is officially to Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC and was for more than $2 billion, the highest amount ever paid for a North American sports franchise.
Danny Lima, a 26-year-old Dodgers fan from Tulare, Calif., said the most exciting aspect of the deal is the "hope" it brings Dodgers fans. Lima, a longtime fan of the Lakers and Johnson, said Johnson's inclusion in the deal made it even sweeter.
"It's awesome knowing they're both going to be together," Lima said. "He's a part of LA."
Not all reaction was instantly positive, however. Though most fans were thrilled, the first thoughts from Ernie Martino, a 74-year-old fan of the club since it moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958, revolved around the lucrative sale price.
"I'm just happy that it's almost finally settled," he said. "I don't know that I'm really happy about the sale price, but none of these big-money people seem to have any place to put their money, anyway."
Martino, a native of Fresno, noted his wait-and-see approach to the new ownership.
"For that price, I'm assuming they're going to go after some big-name ballplayers now," Martino said. "That's what I'm expecting."
A couple of fans mentioned their hopes for a World Series in the near future, with Kershaw and Kemp headlining a team with a good bit of young talent. But 33-year-old Santa Barbara native Shawna Vatter is happy enough just to have a season where she can keep her focus solely on the on-field product.
"I don't care," she said when asked what her long-term hopes were for the team. "Just make it a good season. I like to focus just on the baseball. Just play some good ball, and I'm not going to be greedy."
Vatter's boyfriend is a Giants fan who likens her being a Dodgers fan to being in therapy. Vatter kids that now her therapy just got a lot easier.
Vatter said the first test the team's new ownership will have to pass with the fans is whether or not it can form a deal with All-Star right fielder Andre Ethier, who is a free agent after the season. Ultimately, the way she'll judge if the club is in good hands is the talent it brings in and the money the owners are willing to spend to stay competitive.
"You spend $2 billion on a team, now you just hope there's some left over for some players," Vatter said.
It was hard for Dodgers fans to temper their expectations on Wednesday, and for Sayad it's easy to understand why. The wait, he said, is finally over for the city of Los Angeles to return to a "Dodgers City."
"It's hard to put into words, to be honest," Sayad said. "It's something I think we've been waiting for a long time. You kind of wondered if it was ever going to end. Ecstatic is the best way to describe it."
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.