Dodgers' situation goes from ugly to embarrassing
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Congratulations to Frank McCourt. In just seven years, he has turned the Los Angeles Dodgers from a once proud standard bearing organization into the laughing stock of Major League Baseball.
And now, according to Commissioner Bud Selig, the team is incapable of running itself.
With McCourt's finances in question and his public divorce yet to be resolved, Selig stated on Wednesday that Major League Baseball will assume all aspects of the business and day-to-day operation of the Dodgers.
"I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball," Selig said in a statement.
The unprecedented maneuver comes on the heels of a report by the Los Angeles Times that McCourt received a $30 million loan from Fox - whom he purchased the team from in 2004 - to cover expenses since he was struggling to make payroll. The loan, made personally to McCourt and behind the back of Selig, was the second from Fox since the end of last season to help cover expenses.
So, the loan, diminishing ticket sales, the whole situation surrounding public safety at Dodger Stadium and the general embarrassment the franchise has become under McCourt's watch was just too much for Selig.
MLB will assume all aspects of the business and day-to-day operation of the Dodgers.
So what does this all mean?
Well, this much is clear. Selig wants McCourt gone. He is trying to force McCourt's hand. McCourt won't go quietly, though. He appears to be in complete denial with the state of the Dodgers and thanks to a ruling in December, McCourt is still a 50/50 partner in the team with his soon-to-be ex-wife Jamie, meaning that this whole situation is going to get a lot uglier in the coming months or years before it gets better.
Still, though, Selig could just force a sale and some think this is just the first step in that direction. Like I said, though, Frank McCourt won't go without a fight.
"Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines which all 30 teams must follow," McCourt said in a statement. "The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines. On this basis, it is hard to understand the Commissioner's action today."
Jamie McCourt also issued a statement, making it quite clear that she was still a part of the sinking ship that is the Dodgers, and completely went the opposite direction of her estranged husband.
"As the 50-percent owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I welcome and support the Commissioner?s actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction for the franchise and for Dodgers fans everywhere," Jamie said.
Now I think Jamie McCourt could care less about the team. But I also think while Frank may go tooth and nail with the league on this matter, she will sit back and enjoy the public flameout of her incompetent ex. I mean, I don't think anyone believes the current state of the Dodgers is on her head. However, I'm sure she is getting a kick out of all this because in the end she is going to be laughing all the way to the bank.
Talk about having your cake and eating it too. Isn't marriage great?
But what happens next, like tomorrow? Well, we don't really know. This is kind of uncharted territory. This has never happened before. Sure there have been times when MLB has taken over control of a team, most recently the Texas Rangers while they were going through the sale of their team. But, in that instance Selig allowed former owner Tom Hicks to handle day-to-day responsibilities.
In the coming days MLB will appoint someone like a Stan Kasten or, perhaps even former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, to run the team while everything is being settled. Now the Dodgers may not be able to wheel and deal like say the Yankees, but there won't be a fire sale either like the Rays had this offseason.
But, if Frank McCourt wants to so much as purchase a legal pad, he is going to have to ask MLB for permission to do so.
It's obviously not the ideal situation, but if the end result is having an owner who actually cares about the team and restores the Dodgers to where they were, say under O'Malley's watch, well than maybe the next year or so will be worth it in the end.
By the way for those of you in Flushing waiting for Selig to step into the mess that the Wilpons have created with the New York Mets. Keep waiting. They have a much longer track record than the McCourts. Selig will give them every chance to clean up their own backyard so to speak.
But this could also be a subtle nudge to the Mets that they could be next.