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Major League Baseball Takes Control Of LA Dodgers

MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

Last night in Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1. For many Dodgers fans, it was more than an early season win. It was a good sign. Actually, the second one of the day. The victory followed yesterday's announcement that league officials are taking over the business and day-to-day operations of the Dodgers. That follows months of uncertainty surrounding the team's owners, their highly publicized divorce and finances. Dodgers' fans hope the takeover signals an eventual return to greatness for one of baseball's most prestigious franchises. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN: Extraordinary. Stunning. The big adjectives flowed yesterday after baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced he'll appoint a representative, to be named in the next few days, to take over Dodgers operations. David Carter saw both the bad and the good. Carter runs the University of Southern California Sports Business Institute.

DAVID CARTER: The fact that it came to this is disappointing. The fact now that it may have bottomed out is actually a very positive development, meaning we may be on the right track with respect to turning that business around.

GOLDMAN: Hints that the Dodgers business was heading the wrong way go back to 2004, when Massachusetts native Frank McCourt bought the team. A newspaper profile described how the new owner planned to move into a $25 million Bel Air mansion while Dodgers fans were calling McCourt "McBankrupt" because of his highly leveraged purchase.

ANDREW ZIMBALIST: McCourt bought the team up to his neck in debt. He bought it for $430 million and practically borrowed that much money to buy the team.

GOLDMAN: David Carter says whether or not that was the last straw for Bud Selig, it was an indication of, in Carter's words, severe financial disrepair.

CARTER: Unidentified Man: And now the starting lineup for your Los Angeles Dodgers.

GOLDMAN: This month's brutal beating of a San Francisco Giants fan, who remains in critical condition, indicated to some that security had become lax. At last night's game, L.A. fan Gilbert Rocha sounded wistful for the days when the O'Malley family owned the Dodgers and turned the team into one of the game's most prized franchises.

GILBERT ROCHA: You know, this is a family organization and they should have just kept it that way, you know?

GOLDMAN: Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.