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Right owner matters, not the price tag

The number is staggering. The time frame is exciting.

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has three weeks to decide whether to accept a record-breaking $1.2 billion offer from Los Angeles Marathon founder Bill Burke and a group of unnamed Chinese and American investors.

But as exciting and enchanting it is to think of being rid of McCourt in three weeks, the only person the offer is actually relevant to is McCourt himself.

The sale price of the team should be the last thing we all care about. The type of offer -- in this case, reportedly all cash -- is simply a detail.

The only thing that matters is getting the right new owner.

After what McCourt, and before him the Fox ownership group, have put this franchise and this city through, the Dodgers and their fans deserve more than a spot on the first ship floating away from McCourt.

Whether that's Burke, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Dennis Gilbert, a group led by former Dodgers Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser, or some other rich, famous man or woman, remains to be seen.

Whenever McCourt finally fires his last legal shot and agrees to sell the team, the process should proceed how it always (ideally) does in Major League Baseball.

That didn't happen the last time around when baseball commissioner Bud Selig let Fox pressure him to get McCourt approved by the other owners as quickly as possible so Fox could rid itself of what had become a money pit.

It must happen this time.

Which makes this moment, the second, third and fourth breaths we all take after hearing of Burke's staggering $1.2 billion offer, a test for all of us.

As great as the offer appears to be at first glance, as exciting as the prospect of being done with McCourt is, we have to do better.

Los Angeles might be desperate to rid itself of Frank and Jamie McCourt, but Los Angeles is not desperate.

It might not feel that way at first, and it certainly doesn't look that way when you see the sad, shrinking crowds at Dodger Stadium these days, but that pride is still in there.

That pride has just been wounded and battered by the ugliness McCourt has subjected this city and this franchise to over the past two years. People do strange things when their confidence is low and their spirit is tired. They settle or make rash decisions. They want to get out, just to get out. They leap based on a feeling, before they think or plan or even dream of a better life.

There are a hundred more reasons to take Burke's offer with a grain of salt. The intricacies of baseball's approval process. McCourt's determination to fight until the bitter end. The scary, unknowable financial truth somewhere deep inside the Dodgers' books. The even scarier web of shell companies and holding companies McCourt has carved the Dodgers into.

All of those things are too big for anyone to fully comprehend. Which is why it feels so comforting to hear something simple like: all cash, $1.2 billion, take it or leave it in 21 days. It feels big enough to make all the overwhelming details go away.

It feels safe enough to latch onto.

But take another breath.

Locate the place in your heart where you've locked away your pride for safekeeping, and remember what's important here.

The Dodgers need to get the right new owner, not just the first guy who isn't named Frank McCourt.

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow her on Twitter.