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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Molly Knight On The McCourt Divorce

Fantastic long-form article by ESPN's Molly Knight about the McCourts divorce (hat tip: MSTI via Twitter). The fascinating takeaways:
Says [Jamie McCourt's attorney David] Boies: "Every dollar Frank spends on attorneys to keep Jamie from getting a penny could be spent on starting pitching." Boies says that even if Frank wins on the post-nup, he'll have to pay Jamie a percentage (maybe half) of the Dodgers' appreciation in value -- which is community property -- since the agreement was signed. McCourt paid $431 million for the team in 2004, and the team now could be worth nearly twice that. Given that Frank's lawyers argued he couldn't afford to pay the nearly $1 million per month in temporary spousal support that Jamie requested (he first offered nothing; in May the judge settled on $637,159), he may not be in any position to pay her the hundreds of millions he might owe.


While the McCourts were living large, the Dodgers, in 2008 and 2009, spent less than any other MLB team on the draft and international-player signings, an area the team once dominated. Frank told reporters during spring training that the divorce has nothing to do with the payroll; and multiple former club execs say there's truth to the claim. "It was Frank's plan all along to run a team with a payroll of about $80 million," says a former high-ranking club official speaking on condition of anonymity. "His thinking since he bought the team was: 'This isn't the AL East. Why would I spend $150 million to win 98 games when I can spend half that to win 90, if that's all it takes to make the playoffs in our division?'

I've already made my position clear on multiple occasions about payroll — you're generally better off signing amateur talent, often, than you are paying veterans with that same money, so the major league payroll dollars don't necessarily correlate well to winning. Nonetheless, this sounds like a "we're not going to spend money, period" sort of declaration, with the caveat that it's coming from some cowardly anonymous source.

Update: Jon interviewed Molly on the writing of the piece, which she said required 60 hours on the phone with the two principals' attorneys alone.

The PR department pleaded with [Jamie] to take care of the people closest to her, because if you don't do that you're likely to get sniped. I think that's what you're seeing now in the press with both of them. Jamie acted a bit like Marie Antoinette (if these Dodgers employees are to be believed), and Frank created too many enemies by firing longtime Dodgers execs at will. I think that was their biggest mistake more than anything else they've done. They've created too many enemies to contain this PR nightmare. It wasn't that hard to get people to talk.

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Sounds like what T.J. Simers has been trying to tell readers all along.
Kind of. Simers' schtick is about character assassination and, as Mencken used to say, "stirring up the animals". See his June 6 column on the Celtics for a typical bit; yet, once in a while he actually gets something right, almost by accident.

I will have to think a while to remember the last time that happened.

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