John Longville punked me good. The former state assemblyman, Rialto mayor, and current trustee of the San Bernardino Valley College Board sent me an email reporting the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to the government of the Philippines.

My jaw dropped farther and farther as I read each paragraph. I almost reached for the phone to call the sports editor to ask, “Have you HEARD this?” And then I came to the last paragraph, which contains the best punchline I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Here’s his entire text:

Dodgers name and franchise to

by John Longville

The Los Angeles Dodgers, the first major-league baseball
team to be based on the West Coast, are about to expand the baseball world
again, according to major league sources who asked not to be named because they
are not authorized to speak publicly.

If all the necessary legal arrangements can be worked out —
and that’s still not certain, apparently — the team will continue to play home
games at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but officially will be franchised in
and owned by the government of the Philippines. 
Included in the deal will be four exhibition games each year in Manila,
one of which tentatively will be played against a Japanese team. And the
profitability of the team will be enhanced by a major increase in the value of
international television broadcast rights, although a small part of that new
money is proposed to be diverted to a new fund to assist teams in smaller

The pending deal began coming together early in April. Former
Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer contacted Commissioner Bud Selig on the
first day of the month to inform him of a rumor that representatives of the
Philippine government were interested in purchasing the Dodgers, and already had
been quietly in negotiations with team owner Frank McCourt. Schieffer developed
close contacts in the Philippines when he served as U.S. ambassador to
Australia. All three nations were members of the now-defunct Southeast Asia
Treaty Organization (SEATO) formed under the Manila Pact in 1954.

Baseball became popular in the island nation during the
1950s and ’60s, when millions of young American sailors (over 4 million in 1967
alone) spent time at the massive U.S. naval base at Subic Bay. Those were glory
years for the Dodgers, and Filipinos became ardent fans of the first baseball
team to share the Pacific Ocean with them.

The Philippine government is about to acquire a
multi-billion-dollar windfall as international banking authorities conclude the
allocation of funds that former dictator Ferdinand Marcos had deposited in
secret Swiss accounts before his government was overthrown in 1986. Bankers
indicate that the total sum to be returned is substantially higher than earlier
estimates, prompting one government official to suggest an effort to buy San
Francisco Giants ace pitcher Tim Lincecum, the most valuable Filipino baseball
player in history, to boost the Dodgers’ prospects.

Schieffer, who was named Monday by Selig to take control of
the Dodgers before owner Frank McCourt could further damage the team, declined
to comment on reports that a sticking point in the negotiations is the proposed
new name for the team:

The Manila Folders.