It's a good thing Los Angeles has put that whole Carmageddon thing in the rearview mirror. The city now can concentrate on the true Southern California man-made disaster: Dodgergeddon.
Carmageddon, which was the nickname given to last weekend's partial shutdown of the 405 Freeway, turned out to be vastly overrated. People responded by ... staying home and out of their vehicles! Genius! Next: The citizens of SoCal discover that napkins can prevent fast food from leaving grease stains on their designer jeans!
Dodgergeddon, on the other hand, could be vastly underrated. It describes the ongoing meltdown of a once-proud sports franchise, unique brand name and baseball team, one that happens to be visiting AT&T Park for three days this week.
And know what? Every Giants fan should start paying attention to the situation immediately. Because at the end of the day, can the Giants really be the Giants if the Dodgers aren't really the Dodgers?
Admittedly, to this point there has been no major reason for Giants followers to care greatly about the Dodgers' mess. Most have just a vague idea of the details: Back in 2006, a suspiciously flashy married couple named Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the team, took out roughly $100 million in loans against the franchise value to finance a lavish lifestyle, then filed for divorce last year with the team as a contested asset.
Frankly, all of that was simply mild amusement to those of us in the superior northern sector of California. Even when Major League Baseball assumed control of the team a few months ago, it seemed mostly a bureaucratic speed bump en route to new franchise ownership.
But last week, things took a more eye-opening turn. Frank McCourt filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the Dodgers and four other team-related companies. He was essentially defying MLB's control of the franchise. McCourt is saying he would rather have a bankruptcy trustee running the team than Bud Selig. It sets up the prospect of endless court litigation to sort out the carnage.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have become a comedy punching bag. At last week's ESPY Awards, host Seth Myers from "Saturday Night Live" joked that the team was so broke, three players had tested positive for Ramen Noodles.
Laugh if you want. None of this is good for baseball or the Giants. The most sad example was the beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening night. Stow's family has filed a suit against the Dodgers, alleging that funds for security forces at the stadium had been cut.
Nothing that happens on the field compares to the Stow tragedy. But if the bankruptcy legal proceedings stretch out for months and months (or years?), three things are guaranteed to happen:
One, any Dodgers front-office person with any intelligence will flee as soon as possible. So far, general manager Ned Colletti, a former Giants executive, is holding the carnival tent together as the team plods along, a dozen games out of first place. But when Colletti either leaves or is fired -- most likely in the offseason -- what happens? Oh, someone will take the job. What smart person, however, would work for a company that, as outlined in the bankruptcy filing, owes venerable announcer Vin Scully more than $150,000 and might not be able to pay up?
Two, any free agent would be crazy to sign with the Dodgers in such an uncertain environment. The team still owes Manny Ramirez about $21 million in deferred salary, along with millions owed to others. They'll probably get it. But some analysts believe that if McCourt "wins" the bankruptcy proceedings, there's a slight chance that the Dodgers would be permitted to walk away from certain elements of player contracts.
Three, if the bankruptcy trustee does what most bankruptcy trustees do, the Dodgers' secondary expenses will be cut to the bone. This will greatly damage the franchise's minor league player development -- which recently has not been so terrific, anyway.
Taken together, these factors would ensure that the Dodgers will be no threat in the National League West for five years or longer. This might not allow the Giants to dominate the division. But it would make the task easier -- and less compelling.
Let's face it. For the Giants' spectator tribe, fighting the Rockies and Diamondbacks for a title year after year doesn't reach the same satisfaction level as beating the Dodgers. It doesn't even feel like a true division race, almost.
As much as it pains Giants fans to do so, they had better start rooting for the Dodgers to emerge from this ownership mess as the real Dodgers, the team that is so much fun to root against. Because right now, it isn't fun. It's like rooting against Blockbuster Video or the next Mel Gibson movie. What's the point?
Contact Mark Purdy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5092.