Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kasten heads to Hollywood

Associated Press file photo
Commissioner Bud Selig has twice entrusted the takeover of a franchise to Stan Kasten.
VIERA, Fla. -- Upon announcing his resignation as president of the Washington Nationals in Sept. 2010, Stan Kasten made it clear he wouldn't be leaving the sports world altogether.

"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.


MicheleS said...

Hey Padres Fans come on Up the I-5, Hey SF Giants Fans, come on down I-5! We will let you park you buses in our Parking Lots, We will even give you group tickets, we will let you take over the entire park! Come on down!

The only thing that COULD prevent this is if Magic works some magic to get the LA residents to buy the season tickets and block out PT Barnums calls to the other fan bases

bdrube said...

Be patient, Dodgers Fans. We're not being cheap in waiting for all of these Rookie ball prospects to develop because we spent so much money buying the team. It's THE PLAN.

NatsLady said...

NJ, no problem on the iPhone (just a small screen). Not working on Android, they promise by "opening day" which they think is April 5. Thinking of buying a used iPad...

Love this baseball in the morning, I could really get use to it!

NatsLady said...

And--extra innings in Japan.

NatsLady said...

Can we get a new post? Not liking that picture.

Matt Coyne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cass said...

I'm not sure even Stan Kasten could sell Giants fans on an experience that includes being put into a coma after the game...

Sunderland said...

It's a sickening reminder of the part of baseball that I hate that McCourt is coming out of this with wealth beyond my imagination.

blovy8 said...

He'll be sure to crap on DC, while lauding LA fans who leave by the seventh inning.

natsfan1a said...

Heck, we'll even give you a police escort to assist in dealing with all that pesky traffic (This offer void where prohibited. Does not apply to fans who leave while a no-hitter is in progress.)

MicheleS said...

Hey Padres Fans come on Up the I-5, Hey SF Giants Fans, come on down I-5! We will let you park you buses in our Parking Lots, We will even give you group tickets, we will let you take over the entire park! Come on down!

The only thing that COULD prevent this is if Magic works some magic to get the LA residents to buy the season tickets and block out PT Barnums calls to the other fan bases
March 28, 2012 8:28 AM

MicheleS said...

Cass.. heard some disturbing stuff that some of the LA gangs have taken over the bleachers in the park. That is just not good.

NatsJack in Florida said...

My favorite moment this spring took place last Wednesday at the Braves/Nats game in Viera.

Kasten showed up about the 4th inning sitting with Rizzo the next section over from my seats. There were two Braves fans from Atlanta sitting behind us that could not trash Kasten enough for riding the coat tails of Shuerholz and Cox for all those years.

I proceeded to tell them about opening day 2010 and the Phillie invasion at the invitation of one Stan Kasten.

At the end of the 7th inning, right after the singing of God Bless America, I turned to the Braves fans and said watch this. Cupping my hands over my mouth, I bellowed "hey Stan, bring any Phillie fans with you?"

Stan looked to his left towards my area and had the look of someone who just swallowed sour milk. Both the Braves fans were laughing like crazy. I loved it.

HHover said...

NJ - love it!

Natslady - I totally agree re: that picture. Bud looks like the party lush, and Kasten looks like the guy he cornered--trying to smile, but really just frightened and wanting to escape.

Anonymous said...

Kasten might be the most overrated person in sports management. The press treated him like he was Branch Freaking Rickey the whole time he was in DC and it helped to legitimize what was not a very legit approach that the Lerners took as new owners in a new park. Kasten's presence in Nats Town had a lot to do with the losing. Good riddance Stan.


John C. said...

Ah, Kasten! The ultimate proof that in life it's not what you know, it's who you know. Ride the coattails of other people's success, annoying fans and mismanaging off-the-field operations wherever you go. Get chummy with Boswell, and then you can have stories floated that everything that went wrong on your watch was someone else's idea, and that things that corrected after your watch were really examples of people finally following what you have been saying all along. Get chummy with a used car salesman (that picture is perfect, Mark!), and once again come up smelling of roses no matter what the facts. Bleargh.

I like Don Mattingly; he seems like a class act and I always liked the way he carried himself as a ballplayer. He's doomed, though - he was brought in as Torre's protege, and Torre was in a competing group. Kasten won't forget that. Either way, I admit that I will enjoy every Dodger loss while Kasten is there. At least he's 3,000 miles away.

PS: Thanks, Natsjack, for giving voice to so many of us ;)

Hmmm... said...


Steady Eddie said...

NatsJack -- second that "love it"! Only thing missing was a videocam to record it for all NIers to enjoy.

Other than Kasten giving the Lerners the credibility with Selig for him to allow the MLB franchise-strangling owners to sell them the Nats, did Kasten ever do one thing -- once he actually became team President -- that advanced the franchise even the tiniest bit? Bringing in Jimbo -- FAIL. Promoting the team in the community -- FAIL. Promoting relations with ST holders/encouraging more -- half fail at best (note that winter NatsFests ended when Kasten left -- last year's was useless -- but the whole PhilthiesPhans thing poisoned the well up until the latest Take Back The Park).

Feel Wood said...

This is basically a remake of the Selig-orchestrated Red Sox sale in the early 2000s. Walter is playing the John Henry role as the big money guy, Magic is Tom Werner the entertainment mogul, and Kasten is Larry Lucchino the baseball insider who has run the day-to-day operation of two lesser-market teams and is now moving up to one of the sport's premier franchises. (Kasten made his mark with the Braves in their golden era and trained the Lerners with the Nats, Lucchino cemented his reputation with the Orioles under Edward Bennett Williams - that franchise's last successful owner - and did time with the Padres before joining the Red Sox ownership group.) The question is how well will this triumverate do in trying to replicate the success of the Red Sox? Based on the way the Red Sox scenario played out, with the baseball guy Lucchino not having the most prominent role, will Kasten also have to take more of a back seat to the other two if the Dodgers are to have the same level of success?

Steve M. said...

Stan the Plan really was right with the ultimate message upon coming to Washington, and many of his theories and thoughts he gave is still what has shaped this team. The problem was cutting through all the BS on the way to the plan and the tired old message.

I don't have too many issues with the guy because I know "what" he is. Even the whole Phillies debacle sure looked ugly but it is nothing new in sports. Its been so overblown at this point. It is what the Orioles deal with 18 times a year (Bos & NYY), not the 9 times a year Nats fans have to deal with the Phillies.

By the way, Hollywood makes movie magic where you can use slight of hand very effectively. Perfect for Stan. At $2.15 Billion, I want to see how he can generate enough revenues to avoid financial chaos. Mark Walter is a billionaire for a reason. After they celebrate the purchase, the next move is to figure out how they pay for their new home.

Hopefully Mark "new posts" so we can turn the page quickly.

Steady Eddie said...

Thanks, dfh21 and JohnC for adding to the list of Kasten FAIL.

NaterialGuy said...

Hey I have good memories fond Stan. He was very instrumental in us finally getting a team here. In hindsight the phillie thing did not play well but we should never have let things reach the point where in order to sell out opening day it required outside fans. So we should at least in part share some of the blame. This negativety goes against the spirit of being one week from opening day. Lets remember Stan for the good he did and move on. The plan he put in place was and is a good one. This team continues to be built the right way. And when we finally reach the playoffs it will have been in part because of some of the groundwork laid down by Stan Kasten.

Anonymous said...

Let's remeber Stan for what he was. At best ineffective (not able to sway the Lerners to actually do it the right way -- took them years to even hire a full scouting staff) or at worst just really bad (if it was his plan for the Nats to finish last year after year with lousy fan appeal on pretty much all levels, then why should we celebrate the guy at all?).


PAY TO PLAY said...

Steady Eddie, StanK didn't bring in JimBo, he was already here. Rumor was StanK couldn't STANd JimBo and that was the wedge between Lerner and StanK.

StanK needed to raise revenues and I don't even think he could forsee how bad the Phoolie Invasion would turn out to be.

If Washington supported the Nats, StanK would have looked like a genius. I think the Phoolie backfire was the straw that broke the camel's back.

If you believe things happen for a reason, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are here because of all the heartache from horrible seasons.

Lets turn the page to more positive thoughts like Xavier Nady starting 1st base today. Nah, scratch that, doesn't sound positive. Michael Morse back to work today?

Anonymous said...

We should all be appalled how a complete failure like Frank McCourt will emerge from bankruptcy as one of the richest men in the world. Even after paying off his creditors and Uncle Sam, McCourt will walk away a millionaire about 750 times over and if he invests well could easily make the Billionaires club quickly.

Steady Eddie said...

SteveM, you bring a great deal of wisdom and insight on baseball matters to these blog comments but as a Nats fan since 1963, I have to disagree that the PhilthiesPhans thing is "so overblown".

MLB did everything it could to trash the rep of DC as a baseball town ever since that old racist Clark Griffith pulled the original Nats out of town. Bob Short was entirely complicit with that by trashing the successor Nats Loria-style (e.g. the loony Denny McLain trade) that killed interest in a team with growing potential just in time to grease the move to Texas. Moving then and under those circumstances cemented the MLB image of DC as a bad baseball town for the decades thereafter and made it that much harder to get a team in the interim over less-deserving towns.

Then the way the Nats finally came in 2005 -- looted by Loria and the farm pulled up from the roots by MLB -- and the way Jimbo's machinations made them painful to watch, the lack of effective promotion by the team and the lack of anything much to promote until at least 2010 (but what a pitching staff then, other than Stras and Storen!!) all conspired against building a positive baseball town consciousness.

Throwing the 2010 OD debacle on top of that, and the bus group invasions that made going to those games so unpleasant for Nats fans, all expressed the "all we care about is short-term receipts not building a local, supportive fan base just as the team promises to get good."

All of our discussions on this great blog about how the local media ignore the Nats are rooted in that lack of buzz at the park. It's all of a piece. That's why Take Back the Park is such a crucial signal regardless of its immediate consequences -- it says that the team finally gets all of this and recognizes that they have to capitalize on as the potential breakout moment.

Will said...

I agree with much of the sentiment here.

What did Kasten actually do for the Nats? I'm not really sure.
Oversee baseball operations? If so, he was pretty dreadful at that, especially keeping Bowden as the GM.
Oversee more technical, day to day management? Given all the drama between the city and the Nats, he didn't seem to do very well there.
Act as the liaison between the owners and the fans? The opinions expressed here say it all. He did a lousy job with that too.

I can't say I wish the Dodgers and Kasten the best.

Anonymous said...

Will, Kasten forced JimBo out. That may be his greatest accomplishment.

Steady Eddie said...

P2P -- happy to turn positive a week before OD. I think the team management gets it and is driving in the right direction on most cylinders. (Local and ST promotion could be better but I suspect they're looking to the team to create the buzz, and from on out, they may be right.)

Being about Kasten, this post really couldn't help but be backwards-looking.

Having ventilated, I'm REALLY happy to set all that aside. Thanks for the reminder.

B25GN! (not on DL)

Will said...

Also, who the heck is Mark Walter and the Guggenheim Partners?

Do they really have that much more than $2billion that they won't have to basically mortgage the team? They've spent about a billion dollars more for the Dodgers than any other team in American sports. Isn't the team vastly overvalued? And will the immense cost effect their payroll for the next decade or so?

Steady Eddie said...

Anon @10:16 -- Jimbo forced Jimbo out. Smiley?

Will said...

Anon, he also let Bowden stay for 3 years as the President of the Nats.

It was quite obvious to just about everyone from day one that Bowden was a terrible GM. If he was good at his job, he'd have been able to force out Bowden in 2006. Not having to wait for a relatively serious scandal three years later.

Steve M. said...

Steadie Eddie, I attended Senators games as a kid. We can go through all the failures back in the 60's and 70's and then the failed attempts to relocate a team to DC and the Angelos floatilla around the region and the hostage taking of MASN.

On the Phillies, I put the blame on Stan for a horrible idea that backfired but Washingtonians are not supporting the team. They supported the team in 2005 and disappeared before Lerner took over in late 2006. There are 5.8 million people permanently living in the DC area. 9 million when you expand it to an 1 1/2 hour drive.

To fill the stadium with just DC area people is much less than 1% of the population.

Stan screwed up the Phillies thing and never apologized for it. That was certainly a Fail. It took a few years to start to make them feel uncomfortable as unwanted inhabitants. Its like ridding your home of cockroaches.

Steve M. said...

Will, they spent $2 billion + $150 million. Don't forget that $150 million which is about the amount paid in 2004 for the Oakland A's.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Actually, Jose Rijo forced Jimbo out.

On another note before moving on to the positive, I fully expect some sort of announcement after the Nats last home game Saturday concerning the potential move to Ft. Meyers for ST, probably Sunday or Monday.

Not quite sure what it's going to be because Lee County is as cash strapped as any county in Florida these days, but one never knows.

Mark'd said...

It's all good. The smell of StanK is far away.

New posting!

219Katie said...

I used to send countless emails to Stan about the terrible service and lazy employees at Nats Park. My seats are in the club level and it was painful to try and get anything without missing several innings if there were more than 15k at a game. It was the norm to see employees goofing off, eating, and blatantly oblivious to the idea of customer service. I never received a response from Stan until I wrote and told him that I had witnessed an employee pocketing money from my transaction. He responded personally 5 minutes after sending the email. It was clear to me at that point that all he cared about was money. It is not a coincidence that this team has made tremendous strides forward in the 18 short months since he left! Good Luck Dodger Fans!!

Richard said...

BTW, anyone hear any updates re the Nats "re-set" contract with MASN? I've never done any calculations re comparative markets, but, in view of the Dodgers' deal and the position of pro sports in the new TV/Internet/DVR world, the re-set should require a lot more from MASN.

Golfersal said...

Boy a very hostel group of posters tonight.
First of all Stan Kasten wasn't as bad as people say, the reason that the Nats are on the verge of greatness now is the framework that Kasten drew up in his five years with the team. Yes the Lerners made life tough for him, but I know that he did more good than bad for the Nats and I thank him for his efforts.

I grew up at Dodger Staduim, my dad bought season tickets to the Dodgers in 1962 when I was 8 years old. The cost for two field level seats ten rows back of third base, $284. Oh, that was the total cost for the year and the first year as a gift, Walter O'Malley threw in the parking for free!

I loved the Dodgers and what they meant to the city of L.A. and kids like myself. The saddest day was when O'Malley sold the team, had a feeling that going from a family that cared so much about the team to a heartless corporation was bad. When Frank McCourt bought the team, I had my reservations, he looked way too slick but I was more worried that he wasn't a lifetime Dodger fan and how could some slick parking lot attendant, that robbed people blind in Boston do any good in L.A.

I was right. He was a devil disguised in slick grab. He used the team as his personal ATM and has run the franchise into the ground. Love the group that bought the team, Magic Johnson has proven his love for L.A. and taking care of people, most those that were poor and black, but Magic has made a better life for them.

Love the outlook but only have one problem with it. McCourt owes $1 billion dollars to others, so if I was the person that was bidding I would of made sure to buy it for $999,999.99 so that McCourt would have to pay me for the privilege. I had a dream that I would one day be walking on the boardwalk in Santa Monica and a panhandler would ask me for some money and I would see the bum was McCourt. I would reach into my pocket and give him that penny that he had to pay to get rid of the Dodgers and thank McCourt for getting the hell out of the way of the Dodgers.
Looking forward one day to getting to see a playoff game between the Dodgers and the Nats, gosh wouldn't know who to root for.

So I am tickled pink over this sell other than they overpaid.

natsfan1a said...

I'm an elder hostel, myself. :-)

sjm308 said...

I am just amazed at the amount of money spent on this franchise. I realize the Dodgers are a prize in MLB but I was floored. Silly question. Does Kasten or Magic have to put up any of this money?

I realize the the Lerners are not even thinking about selling but aren't all the owners now just a little happier with the price of this sale?, or is this just because it was the Dodgers?

John C. said...

For the record, I don't think that Stan Kasten is a miserable human being; he just seems to have a knack for taking credit for success whether it happens on his watch or not, and deflecting blame the same way. I don't think that he's a blithering incompentent, it's just that he's presented as this management geenyus when a close examination of his record tends to show that he is a mediocrity with good schmoozing skills and a knack for self-promotion.

And fortunately, he's now the Dodgers' problem. Best (healthy) 25 go North!

Anonymous said...

sjm -- it's the land that's driving the cost so high. It's a cash deal so someone is posting a lot of money. They could be getting it from any number of sources. My complete guess is that Kasten has very little money in the game as he's not super rich and he's likely the baseball guy in the group whose inclusion they hoped would get their bid shinier to MLB.

Golfersal said...

I know a lot of the landscape of why the price is so high. First is the fact that there is a lot of property around Dodger Stadium and they can build a football stadium in center field along with a mall that will have bars, restaurant, movie theater and shopping. These items, if done right will make Dodger Stadium the in place to go year round, plus having football return to L.A.

But the real big deal is screw all of these high price offers for TV rights. I think the Angels just sold their TV rights to the next 20 years for $300 million. The Dodgers, not now because the McCourts drove their value into the ground, but they are in the top-five of draws in Baseball. They can start there own Yes Network or MASN which could be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 to $40 million a year. So that is what drove the price so high, but I am amazed that McCourts got 2.15 billion for all and he retains like a 33% revenue from all of the parking. So no matter what a chomp we may think of him, he will probably net a half a billion dollars on the sale. That is so wrong it's not funny.

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