A group of investors including basketball legend Magic Johnson is paying $2 billion to acquire
one of Major League Baseball's most illustrious teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Coming one day ahead of the MLB season opener, it's welcome news for loyal fans, who've suffered through a championship drought of nearly a quarter-century and simply want to forget their current owner.
So what better time to remind them of just how bad it got under current owner Frank McCourt for the once-proud franchise that has won six World Series and broke the color barrier
by signing black phenom Jackie Robinson
And what better way to do it than with one name: Vladimir Shpunt.
He sounds like a figment of someone's imagination, except that the "Los Angeles Times" vouched for Shpunt
after news emerged of his sweet deal with the Dodgers
. The Russian-trained physicist and aspiring faith healer Shpunt worked five years for the Dodgers and was paid a retainer and a six-figure bonus to "watch them on television in his home more than 3,000 miles from Dodger Stadium, channeling his thoughts toward the team's success." And trying to heal McCourt's wife's wrist and treat the odd multimillion-dollar-salaried player
. Oh, and his spirit made a cameo
at McCourt's high-profile divorce trial.
There's even a mock Shpunt Twitter page issuing some pretty funny tweets:
But local writers and sports bloggers claim that
baseball's again a serious, high-stakes business at Chavez Ravine:
Today is a great day in Dodgers history. McCourt turned one of baseball's most historic clubs into a laughing stock, but he's now being shown the door with an appropriately high-profile ownership group taking control of a high-profile team.
A five-time NBA champion, Earvin "Magic" Johnson was clear
about his fellow investors' goal once the sale is completed:
The winning group paid $2 billion for the team -- a record for a sports franchise -- according to an announcement issued jointly with previous owner Frank McCourt.
"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise," Johnson said in the statement, adding the new owners "intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section."
So chin up, Angelinos, the dog-and-pony show might just be giving way to "showtime."