Posted on: November 2, 2011 1:34 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 11:19 am
It's not quite the "Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead" moment yet.
But Frank McCourt has never been closer to becoming the ex-Dodgers owner than he is right now.
But McCourt and Major League Baseball jointly announced overnight Tuesday -- at 1:03 a.m. EDT, to be exact -- that they have "agreed to a court supervised process to sell the team and its attendant media rights in a manner designated to realize maximum value for the Dodgers and their owner Frank McCourt."
Translation: McCourt, cornered from all sides and quickly running out of money, has lost his appetite to fight following two years of lawyers, litigation, obstinance and sheer delusion.
In what amounts to a final surrender, McCourt essentially has agreed to auction off the team and disappear. In return, MLB gets what it wants: The Dodgers wrested from McCourt's cold clutch without a messy court fight in which secret financial details could be publicly revealed. The league will help facilitate the sale through the Blackstone Group LP.
The sale is expected to include the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots. McCourt purchased the club and the properties for $421 million in 2004.
Best-case scenario for MLB, Los Angeles and Dodgers fans: A new owner is in place by opening day.
The Dodgers have been in free-fall since Frank and Jamie McCourt's marriage began crumbling in 2009, and the all-out war that developed between the two turned into one the ugliest and messiest battles in baseball history. Their excessively materialistic lifestyle first provided fodder for Los Angeles gossip columns, and then grist for MLB to seize the team from McCourt after it accused him of "looting" millions of dollars from the Dodgers to finance his over-leveraged personal life.
The aptly named McCourt battled in both divorce court and bankruptcy court trying to keep the Dodgers while remaining financially solvent. It's been clear to everyone but him for more than a year that he was fighting a losing battle.
His last-ditch bid to reverse his fall came when he attempted to arrange a future television contract that would front him millions even while the Dodgers were still operating under a present television contract with Fox. Selig would not allow it, and that was the basis for McCourt's latest battle with MLB.
Frankly, that McCourt stubbornly hung on for this long is an upset, given that there were rampant rumors last summer that he would not be able to meet payroll, which would have given MLB carte blanche to remove him as owner.
Or, as I wrote on June 22: "Welcome to the final days of the Dodgers' banana republic. You can hear the choppers whirring just over the hills. Soon, they'll have the place fully surrounded. It won't be long until Frank McCourt will be forced down from his coconut tree, frisked and exiled."
That time has come. According to financial figures McCourt himself submitted to the Bankruptcy Court, even if he settled his divorce and sold the club's television rights, he would still be far short of what he needs to restore the luster to the Dodgers and to renovate Dodger Stadium. As it is, McCourt has agreed to pay his ex-wife, Jamie, a divorce settlement of $130 million.
On the field, the Dodgers in 2011 drew fewer than three million fans in a non-strike-shortened season for the first time in 19 years and for only the second time since 1989.
Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, has expressed interest in the club. Closer to home, Dennis Gilbert, the one-time agent who headed a group that nearly landed the Texas Rangers in 2010, would be a perfect choice. Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has been rumored as potentially being interested, and one industry source theorizes that Oakland owner Lew Wolff, frustrated with the Athletics' inability to gain a new stadium, is another possibility.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 3:45 pm
Hot fun in the summertime. ...
FROM: Michael S.
Hmm, let's find out if I can see through all of the smoke from whatever it is I'm not inhaling: Berkman has started 62 games in the outfield for St. Louis this season, 19 at first base and two as a DH. So apparently, Mr. Michael, Berkman IS an outfielder. And I'm just high on life.
FROM: Frank D
Great job on your All-Star picks. I agree 100! You are by far the best writer on the site.
Don't tell that to Doyel. He just won a fancy award as the second-best columnist in the country and he might get his feelings hurt.
FROM: Thomas H.
So a team's position in the standings should factor into a player's inclusion in the All-Star starting lineup? These are INDIVIDUAL selections, not team awards. And how do you know that Rickie Weeks has made a better contribution to the Brewers than Brandon Phillips to the Reds? If you are going that route, then also include the contribution in the clubhouse, where Phillips is outstanding.
Your points are well taken. I'm a huge Phillips fan. Both he and Weeks are having great years. But on this one, I'm right.
FROM: John D.
First part of your argument is correct: A Yankee shouldn't be starting at shortstop. However, good as Hardy has been, you lose me with your second part. The correct answer is, Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera should be starting.
FROM: Adam S.
Adrian Gonzalez is the runaway MVP in the AL so far? You may want to take another look at Jose Bautista's numbers. Bautista's OBP is 63 points higher, his SLG is 85 points higher, he has more HR's, over 40 more BB's, more Runs, and fewer K's. Don't get me wrong, Gonzalez is having a great year, but I think Bautista has the edge right now, and I'm not sure it is even close. Other than that one argument, I enjoyed the article quite a bit.
I was overzealous (and careless) with my use of the word "runaway." You, sir, are correct. But given what Gonzalez has brought to the Red Sox, and given how he's propped them up into second place in the division, I'm still gonzo over Gonzo.
FROM: Capt. Hook
I'm not sure about your GM skills, much less your math skills, if you think San Diego's current resurgence will stop them from thinking trade. With 80 games left, if they go 56-24 (.700) and San Francisco creeps along at their current .586 over their remaining schedule, the Padres would win by one game. Well, playing .700 may be just a little far-fetched, ya think? Hmmm. Sell the farm, Padres, as the Fantasy of Mr. Miller is just that: A fantasy.
Come on now, read the entire column, not just the headline. I pinpointed the exact time the Padres will start to deal, about a week after the All-Star Game. All I said by pointing toward the Padres' current "resurgence" is that it will delay their plans to trade until later in July. I never suggested they would get back into the race. That would be silly now, wouldn't it?
How about the suicide squeeze bunt he masterfully called on Wednesday night? Guy is 68 years old and called it for the first time in his managerial career. He's a keeper.
FROM: Josh M.
Not only is he the most underrated player in The Show, he's the Twins most INVALUABLE player. Some really smart guy called that one way back during spring training in this column.
I've been a Dodgers fan since 1960. Every cheap shot you threw at McCourt is well-deserved and earned. However, the parking lot beating had no place in this story. It doesn't hurt me as a Dodgers fan, but, as a compassionate human being, I hurt for the Giants fan and his family. I urge you to post a sincere apology and then refrain from such distasteful attempts of Andrew Dice humor.
Look, it was not a cheap attempt at humor, and yes, I'm sorry to those who were offended by that line. But the tragic parking lot beating this year is part of the overall body of McCourt's shoddy and irresponsible work as "caretaker" of the Dodgers. And I'm offended at being compared to a class-less, trailer-trash comic like Andrew Dice Clay.
MARK CUBAN, all that's right. Baseball don't like his type. Get rid of the CAR SALESMAN BUD SELIG. He did nothing about steroids.
Not sure that Mark Cuban is all that's right. But compared to Frank McCourt, a common house rat is all that's right, so I guess your point is well taken.
Likes: Mid-season, and the All-Star Game. Still, by far, the coolest All-Star Game in all of sports. Not even close.
Dislikes: Super 8. Just because today's technology can produce cool special effects, it doesn't always mean the more, the better. Just sayin'.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"The moon beams we can dream on, when the working day is done
-- Eddie Hinton, Everybody Needs Love
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Asdrubal Cabrera, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Davey Johnson, Derek Jeter, Frank McCourt, J.J. Hardy, Jose Bautista, Lance Berkman, Los Angeles Dodgers, Michael Cuddyer, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rickie Weeks, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals
Posted on: June 28, 2011 8:42 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 2:56 pm
The takeaway from baseball's date with the Dodgers in bankruptcy court Tuesday?
Major League Baseball is very happy with the way the day went, according to sources, for at least two very specific reasons:
-- Lawyers agreed to "delete" language ordering the auctioning of "media rights" (television contract) by a specific date that Frank McCourt is attempting to wangle as part of his financing agreement. In layman's terms, this for now prevents the bankruptcy judge from auctioning off a Dodgers television deal, which essentially would have allowed McCourt to go back door around Major League Baseball.
For now, the Commissioner's Office retains power to accept or to deny whatever media deals McCourt strikes. That is hugely important to MLB because it fears two things:
One, that McCourt is so desperate that he will wind up striking a television deal for below market value (the Dodgers' current television deal still has two more years remaining, that's how far out in front he's negotiating).
And two, that he will use the money from a new television deal to pay off some of his enormous debt (including ex-wife Jamie in their divorce), thus crippling the Dodgers further (and possibly an incoming new owner) because money that should be used for the team won't be there.
-- The deal struck Tuesday allows the Dodgers to draw an initial $60 million of a $150 million agreement with Highbridge Capital to maintain operations essentially for another month, until a July 20 hearing. This allows McCourt to meet this Thursday's payroll, among other things -- and, for baseball, means the other 29 owners will not have to pony up millions of dollars to cover the Dodgers' payroll for at least another month.
Without question, Tuesday's court proceedings were just one more round in what's become a blood bath between McCourt and MLB. Many rounds are left, and what nobody knows is how many more moves McCourt has left before he runs out of money and is squeezed out of the game.
To hear him tell it in meetings at Dodger Stadium, according to sources, he continues to think that he will find a way to retain the team.
Upon filing for bankruptcy early Monday morning in Delaware, one of McCourt's next moves was to bar MLB appointed "monitors" Tom Schieffer and John Allen from their Dodger Stadium offices.
Next? MLB is expected to take steps toward seizing the Dodgers, a right available to baseball as part of the game's constitution. According to the constitution, the commissioner can take the liberty of seizing any club that enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Procedurally, MLB must first file a motion seeking termination of the franchise, which a source told the Associated Press is "probably going to happen."
Exactly when is not yet clear.
What is clear is, Tuesday's day in bankruptcy court extended, however briefly, the financially suffocating McCourt's grip on the franchise. But his status as an owner remains on life support.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 8:42 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 8:59 pm
A lawyer's statement on behalf of down-and-almost-out Dodgers owner Frank McCourt this afternoon nearly guaranteed the next step: See you in court.
Not long after Commissioner Bud Selig nixed McCourt's proposed television deal for the Dodgers on Monday, Steve Susman, senior partner of Susman Godfrey, released a statement that, in part, said: "We plan to explore vigorously our options and remedies with respect to Commissioner Selig’s rejection of the proposed Fox transaction and our commitment to protect the long-term best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
That was the kicker. The rest of the statement:
“We are extremely disappointed with the Commissioner’s rejection of the proposed Fox transaction which would inject $235 million into the Los Angeles Dodgers. As Commissioner Selig well knows, this transaction would make the Dodgers financially secure for the long term and one of the best capitalized teams in Major League Baseball.
Posted on: April 20, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 6:26 pm
Commissioner Bud Selig has reached his breaking point with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and do not underestimate Selig sending in a "representative" to "oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the club."
Plan and simple, the translation is this: It is a move designed to force McCourt to sell the Dodgers.
Baseball has had it. McCourt has embarrassed himself, the franchise and long ago lost all credibility. The only relevant question here is what took baseball so long to act.
Yes, clubs have had issues in the past, most recently last summer when the Texas Rangers entered bankruptcy during their ownership transition from Tom Hicks to a group led by Chuck Greenberg. Baseball became involved then in overseeing the Rangers' finances, but nothing like this.
This is last-days-of-Marge-Schott in Cincinnati serious. That's the last time baseball became so fed up with an owner that it took action to force the owner out of the game. Schott, unlike McCourt, was suspended.
McCourt? Right now, he's only on deck to be publicly humiliated. Which, of course, he might be incapable of, because that should have happened long, long ago.
Posted on: March 5, 2011 4:47 pm
MESA, Ariz. -- Dressed casually in khaki slacks and a button down shirt on a 73-degree day, Commissioner Bud Selig could have passed for any fan at Saturday's Cubs-Padres game at HoHoKam Park.
Of course, not just any fan has the authority to speak directly, and with the inside knowledge, of the game's first labor negotiating session that was held Wednesday in Florida. The game's Basic Agreement expires following the upcoming season.
"We're starting early, and I think that's good," said Selig, who added that a second negotiating session is scheduled for "out here" -- presumably in Arizona -- next week. "Hopefully we're starting very quietly and very peacefully.
"I'm proud that we've had 16 years of labor peace. It's because we can do our work quietly. ... There used to be a lot of public statements and people banging on each other. Negotiations will be tough and we'll have a difference of opinion, but we'll do it in a constructive manner. It's led to two successful labor negotiations and, hopefully, another one.
"Michael [Weiner, players' union chief] has been good. ... I'm satisfied with where we are."
As baseball begins the process that once upon a time led to the public spitting that the NFL currently is experiencing, Selig said the football saga certainly feels familiar.
"It brings back a lot of memories of the '90s," he said. "Those were tough years, really tough years, for a lot of reasons. If I ever get around to writing my book what I would say is, the seven labor stoppages that led to that, you could almost see it coming. There was so much anger and so much hostility.
"But those days are gone. And the other sports now, in some cases, I guess, are feeling what we felt in the '90s. It's painful, I'll tell you that."
Aside from the fact that there will be another negotiating session next week, Selig touched on several different topics without any sensational revelations. Among them:
-- On some recent comments by big-market owners complaining about shelling out too much money for revenue sharing: "So far I've been able to keep this all together in a very constructive way and I don't have any reason to think that's going to change. Every club views it from its own perspective. I understand that."
Selig declined comment on Red Sox owner John Henry's revelation last week that he had been fined $500,000 for comments regarding revenue sharing a few years ago.
-- On recent rumblings regarding the idea of contraction: "It's not something I've talked about. It's not something we've talked about. It hasn't been on the table."
-- On the Mets' mess: "We're in uncharted waters. I speak to Fred [Wilpon, Mets owner] a great deal and we just have to hope something works out."
-- Mets and Dodgers marquee franchises scuffling: "When you're the commissioner, you have all kinds of things that happen, most of them not in your control, and this year we have a couple of situations and next year we'll have a couple of more. You work your way through these things."
-- In the most entertaining exchange, Selig reiterated that he has an "enormous respect and affection" for the Wilpons, who go back 35 years with his family. Asked whether he could make any similar comments about Dodgers ownership, Frank and Jamie McCourt, Selig said, "I'm not going to discuss the LA situation."
-- On Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd being the only player in baseball taking supplements and using a program designed by Victor Conte, the old BALCO man: "We've talked to him. He knows how we feel. It's not a situation that makes me very happy."
Posted on: June 10, 2010 3:57 pm
The Mets were busy finishing up with San Diego for 2010 during Thursday's day-night doubleheader, which means as Jose Reyes takes his speed game toward the next destination, the cat-and-mouse between him and Padres catcher Nick Hundley will go on hiatus until 2011.
The games-within-the-games are always fascinating, and I bring up Hundley here for one simple reason:
For his career, Reyes was a perfect 22 for 22 in stolen bases until Hundley threw him out at second base in the fifth inning of a game in San Diego on June 1.
"Oh, I didn't know that!" the charismatic Reyes said enthusiastically when I informed him that he had been perfect against the Padres to that point.
Then, he grinned and added: "I think I was safe. I don't even know that he tagged me in time."
What makes Reyes especially dangerous on the bases, Hundley said, is that he's so sneaky.
"He's really quiet," Hundley says. "To me, it looks like he's the same on every pitch.
"That trait is good to have if you're a base stealer. When you're cat-like, you don't give anything away."
Most base-stealers, Hundley said, give something away with their body language. A lean-toward-second here. A hand-movement there.
"There are some great base-stealers," Hundley said. "[Houston's] Michael Bourn, Reyes. But Reyes, for me, is a little different. He takes a walking lead. There's a little more rhythm. Bourn flat-out burns. Reyes is casual. He'll lull you to sleep."
Reyes said it's something he's worked on for years, and when the Mets brought Rickey Henderson in as a coach a few years ago, that learning process accelerated.
"I try to pick my spots, and I don't want to be too anxious," Reyes said. "If I'm anxious, they'll say, 'He's going to go at one point.' I try to be quiet. I learned that.
"When I was younger, I used to be crazy, like I wanted to go on every pitch."
Reyes led the NL in steals from 2005-2007, but since serious hamstring troubles have plagued him over the past couple of seasons, being quiet and cat-like on the bases is more important than ever to his success rate. And, by definition, to that of the Mets: They're 19-6 when he scores this season, and 267-110 (.708) in games since 2005 when he scores.
"He's smooth, he doesn't force it and he runs in good spots," Hundley said.
And he gives no clues that he may just take off for second or third in the next second.
"If you find a tip," Hundley said, "let me know."
Likes: OK, you healthy people in the crowd, here's PETA's ranking this year of baseball's most vegetarian-friendly ballparks (and it's entertaining that the city best known for Philly cheesesteaks ranks first): 1. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. 2. AT&T Park, San Francisco. 3. Minute Maid Park, Houston. 4. Comerica Park, Detroit. 5. Coors Field, Colorado. ... TBS switching from Phillies-Boston to Nationals-Indians for their Sunday afternoon game of the weeke this weekend. They must really think a lot of rookie Nats reliever Drew Storen. Ah, wait, that's Stephen Strasburg's day to pitch. ... Cardinals rookie third baseman David Freese is a friendly and earnest kid -- and plenty talented. ... Last day of school. ... First day of summer vacation. ... A former Miss America playing Mrs. George Custer for Monroe's celebration of the 100th anniversary of it's lovely Gen. George Armstrong Custer statue.
Dislikes: Just how wacked out are Frank and Jamie McCourt? Answer: Very, very, extremely wacked out.
"Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Posted on: October 15, 2009 7:25 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2009 10:15 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Who gets Tommy Lasorda in the Frank and Jamie McCourt split?
Los Angeles is buzzing about the bust-up of the Dodger owners, who were named as the area's "Power Couple of the Year" in 2008 by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Though the timing of the public confirmation was inconvenient, to say the least, with the Dodgers set to open the NL Championship Series against the Phillies, those connected with the Dodgers have known for much of the summer that there's been trouble in paradise for the McCourts.
So as far as any immediate distractions, forget it. The only thing that's changed for the Dodgers is that knowledge of the McCourt's separation now has extended beyond the inner circle.
"It's a very private thing, and I respect that. ... It's not going to affect anything we do," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "My players and myself, we have a job to do, and whatever is going on there is certainly not going to affect what we do here. As I say, it's unfortunate and I feel badly, but it's one of those things that happen in life."
"I've experienced no difference in how we do our business," general manager Ned Colletti said. "On a personal level, I'm saddened by it."
No divorce papers have been filed, so it's premature to know for sure what it going to happen. But California is a community property state, meaning, couple split their assets 50-50 in divorces. That simple fact alone seems to spell big trouble ahead for the Dodgers -- just as it did for the Padres -- unless the McCourts reconcile.
Because if they don't, sources say neither one likely is financially liquid enough to buy out the other one.
Meantime, though Frank McCourt's lawyer told the Los Angeles Times that Frank is the sole owner of the Dodgers, that seems disingenuous because if the couple divorces, Jamie would be entitled to 50 percent of all assets failing a pre-nuptial agreement.
"Speculation about a potential sale of the team is rubbish," Grossman told the Los Angeles Times. "Frank McCourt is the sole owner. He has absolutely no intention of selling this team now or ever."
Aside from the sole owner stuff, he has no intention of selling the team ... ever? Ever? Really?
Colletti could be most immediately affected by the split because his contract is up after next season and, after building the team that finished with the best record in the NL this season -- 95 wins -- he should be in line for a multi-year extension.
Now, who knows?
"I'm fine," Colletti said when asked about the contract issue before Game 1 here Thursday. "I'll always be fine. I'll be wherever I'm supposed to be."
Colletti maintained that whatever is going on with ownership, Los Angeles is still the place he wants to be.
"I've made it known that I'd like to stay," he said. "We've had four good years here as a group. We've been to the postseason three times. We have the best record in the National League today. We struggled with Manny [Ramirez] being gone for 50 days.
"We have an investment here in time, energy and effort. Not just me -- everyone."
Likes: Philadelphia making its pitching up as it goes along. ... Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy writing the other day of Boston's Game 3 loss to the Angels that, before that day, closer Jonathan Papelbon's ERA was the same as John Blutarsky's grade-point average: 0.00. Fabulous line. ... A new Nick Hornby book to read: Juliet, Naked. Always a good thing when Hornby writes a new book. High Fidelity and About a Boy remain among my favorites. ... Great morning run Thursday morning around the Rose Bowl and through Pasadena's Arroyo Seco. Terrific.
Dislikes: Sure wish legendary Philadelphia broadcaster Harry Kalas were with us at this NL Championship Series. ... No sellout in Los Angeles?
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"We'd been living together for a million years
-- Greg Kihn Band, The Breakup Song