By Ken Reed
I’m going to stray a bit today from pure sports policy issues to address a hot baseball topic: Is the Los Angeles Dodgers big offseason good or bad for baseball?
After the Dodgers landed Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow and Teoscar Hernandez this past offseason to go with superstars Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, several of my baseball friends and relatives shared the following comments with me:
· “The Dodgers are terrible for baseball.”
· “What the Dodgers did kills competition.”
· “Why not just give L.A. the World Series trophy now?”
· “I’m done with baseball until they get a real salary cap.”
Now, while I can certainly understand the frustration of non-Dodgers fans, I actually think the Dodgers offseason moves are good for baseball, not bad. Here are six reasons why, in no particular order:
· Attendance will get a boost, not just in L.A. but for every team that hosts the Dodgers this season. Dodgers’ games will be sell-outs, or close, at home and on the road.
· Similarly, baseball’s TV ratings will be up in 2024. The Dodgers will likely dominate national telecasts and local TV ratings will also be higher when the hometown nine is playing baseball’s Super Team. The fact the Dodgers are based in one of the country’s biggest media markets won’t hurt either. Moreover, Hollywood stars should be out in force at Dodgers stadium, as they were for the Showtime Lakers in their glory days. Pro sports are more than sports. They are an entertainment spectacle, and the Dodgers Super Team will create a big-time spectacle this season.
· All the attention the Dodgers will get in 2024 will lure the casual baseball fan to take more than a glancing look at the sport this season. In an era when baseball’s overall popularity is dipping, bringing casual baseball fans back in the loop will be nothing but a plus.
· All sports thrive when there’s an “Evil Empire” involved. Fans love to hate any sport’s juggernaut franchise. Consider the Boston Celtics dynasty in the 60’s and later in the ‘80’s. The Green Bay Packers dynasty in the ‘60’s. The Montreal Canadians 24 Stanley Cup titles. And, of course, the New York Yankees dominance across multiple decades in Major League Baseball. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, fans will go to the park to either cheer or boo the 2024 Dodgers.
· A Super Team tends to increase the quality of its competitors as well. As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” GMs and managers of the Dodgers’ competitors will spend a lot of time strategizing about how to beat the mighty Dodgers. In several cases, that will mean boosting payrolls by spending more money on free agents in an effort to keep up with the Boys in Blue. For reference, consider the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry. For years, when one team made a big offseason move, the other team quickly tried to match it.
· Finally, it’s important to realize that the creation of Super Teams doesn’t guarantee anything on the field. Consider the New York Mets and San Diego Padres of the last couple years. These franchises spent a ton of money corralling superstars, and, as a result, each franchise had to spend millions in luxury taxes. However, both teams completely bombed out on the diamond. A group of outstanding individuals still must be blended into an outstanding team. Watching a so-called “Super Team” fizzle out during a season can bring happiness to fans of every other team in Major League Baseball.
Let’s see how 2024 plays out. The Dodgers may or may not walk off as World Series champions. But I believe that no matter what happens, the Dodgers astonishing off-season haul will be good for baseball.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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