Are Dodger fans protesting against the McCourts?

Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times observes that all the empty seats at Dodger Stadium might be due to fans protesting against Frank and Jamie McCourt.

Whether it’s over their extravagant lifestyle, not paying taxes for six years, a shrinking team payroll or just their nasty divorce, many have seemingly turned against Frank and Jamie McCourt.

And the only way for people to ultimately protest is to stay away. To punish the McCourts by withholding funds.

The cost of a ticket, of course, is only the beginning of the revenue generated off those in attendance. There is parking and food and beer and souvenirs.

That’s a lot of missed revenue on nights when stadium seats seem half empty.

Dodgers fans have been historically — some would argue ridiculously — loyal through the years. The Dodgers have drawn over 3 million fans for 14 consecutive years.

But when a stadium that big is barely half full, it gets noticed. And if it continues, the lack of revenue will have an impact.

Lion fans talked of boycott for years during the Matt Millen regime, but not even they stayed away. It’s unrealistic for fans to conspire together on one massive protest against any sports ownership. Losing is usually the only thing that keeps people away and in the case of the Lions and Cubs, not even that works sometimes.

It’s a logical thought by Dilbeck, but I think it’s a stretch to think that fans are actually staying away from games because of the McCourts. The economy and high ticket prices make more sense than a protest.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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Dodgers inquire about Lee and Oswalt, but are they serious about making a move?

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers have asked the Mariners about starter Cliff Lee and the Astros about ace Roy Oswalt, although a trade of any sort seems unlikely at this point.

Even if the Dodgers were to agree to take on salary, the chances of a trade could depend on how deeply the Mariners and Astros wish to rebuild. The Dodgers’ top prospects are at the lower levels of the minor leagues, so the team would be an unlikely trade partner should the Mariners or Astros want a trade package to feature talent ready for the major leagues.

The Mariners might demand a more attractive prospect package because a half-season of Lee would come at $4.5 million. That would be one-fifth the cost of Oswalt, who is signed through 2011 — or one-ninth, if Oswalt asked the Dodgers to pick up a 2012 option in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause, for a total financial commitment of $39.5 million.

Even if a trade is unlikely to go down, it’s amazing to think that the Mariners could trade Lee this year. When they acquired him from the Phillies last winter, the hope was that he and Felix Hernandez would form the best 1-2 punch in baseball. But the M’s offense has been so bad this year that not even Lee or King Felix can do anything to help the club. Seattle has scored the least amount of runs in the American League and the second least in baseball. Only the Astros have scored fewer runs in the majors this season.

Getting back to the Dodgers, I wonder if this is their way to appease their fans after a lackluster offseason. Due to Frank McCourt’s ongoing battle with Jamie McCourt, the team didn’t break out their checkbook this past winter and fans weren’t too pleased with that given how close the club was to competing for a World Series last year. But if the Dodgers make it public that they’re interested in Lee and Oswalt, then it gives their fans the impression that they’re still willing to make a big move in order to win.

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not L.A.’s name comes up again if/when the Mariners and Astros put Lee and Oswalt on the market.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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