Associated Press file photo
Commissioner Bud Selig has twice entrusted the takeover of a franchise to Stan Kasten.
"I don't feel like retiring," he said that day. "I'm going to do something. I think it will be a while before I do."
Turns out "a while" was only about 18 months, because last night the Los Angeles Dodgers announced they have agreed in principle to sell the franchise and the Chavez Ravine property on which Dodger Stadium resides to a group headed by Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter, former Lakers star Magic Johnson and Kasten.
The selling price: $2.15 billion, a record for any sports franchise.
Not a bad deal for Frank McCourt, the disgraced Dodgers owner who ran the organization into bankruptcy through his messy divorce and other questionable financial moves, huh?
Though McCourt technically had the right to sell to whomever he pleased, make no mistake this transaction was orchestrated by Bud Selig. The Major League Baseball commissioner always ensures franchise sales meet his approval, and in this case especially he wanted to make sure the right people were involved.
In the Walter-Magic-Kasten triumvirate, Selig got exactly what he wanted. Walter is the money man who will assume controlling interest of the Dodgers. Magic is perhaps the most beloved sports figure in Southern California, not to mention a pretty successful businessman in his post-basketball career. And Kasten is the guy with experience running professional sports franchises.
Sounds kind of familiar to those of us in Washington, doesn't it? When MLB was in the process of selling the Nationals in 2006, Selig liked the money and the local ties Ted Lerner could offer. But he insisted the Lerner group include an experienced baseball man to run the franchise on a day-to-day basis. Enter Kasten, who was trying to organize his own group to buy the Nationals but wound up merging with Lerner and ultimately winning the bidding war.
Given the history, you just knew Selig was going to find a way to include Kasten in another ownership group at some point, and the Dodgers situation made perfect sense.
How will Kasten's shtick -- smart, sarcastic, bombastic -- go over in Hollywood? It may seem like a bit of a mismatch. But really it will only require a minor tweak on Kasten's part. Instead of telling reporters "No comment" every time they are seeking information on something, he'll just tell them: "No comment, dude."
This much is certain: The Dodgers are in need of a major overhaul. Not so much the roster, which already includes MVP runner-up Matt Kemp and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. It's the franchise's once-proud reputation that needs to be overhauled.
The Dodgers used to be the model sports franchise, one built on tradition and continuity and beautiful summer nights listening to Vin Scully describe the action taking place on the sparkling diamond before him.
The McCourt years destroyed that reputation, so now it's up to Walter, Magic and Kasten to bring it back and convince L.A. baseball fans that the preeminent franchise in the area still resides in Chavez Ravine, not Anaheim.
Kasten will play a major role in that operation, and he'll probably be the most visible member of ownership at the ballpark on a daily basis.
Whether this new marriage works remains to be seen. Either way, this development shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone in D.C.
The moment Stan Kasten walked away from the Nationals, you just knew he wouldn't disappear for long. Bud Selig would never allow that.