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Thursday, April 28, 2011

McCourt Flails As the Noose Tightens

As expected, a whole lot of words have hit teh Interwebz over the last 24. It's hard to be both self-pitying and toweringly arrogant at the same time, but Frank McCourt somehow managed it with his idiotic line about “hard-earned money and my family’s blood, sweat and tears”. This is true as far as it goes, but it reminds you simultaneously of the old gag about corrupt statistics being like a drunk with a light pole: more useful for support than illumination. Frank's "purchase" of the Dodgers was mostly a function of debt, which is to say, he bought the team in the same way you or I might buy a house. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but then he proceeded to loot the team for all manner of lavish spending.

But maybe the most annoying moment came, as observed by the indispensable Craig Calcaterra yesterday, when Frank McCourt yowped about MLB's lack of "transparency" while operating a corporation that resembles a certain familiar cephalopod.

At last, I leave you with the words of my favorite fellow Dodger traveler, the man who has been with me here in McCourt doubt from the very beginning. Jon likens this action to a second divorce, and who am I to argue?

If it is McCourt's right to sue – a point that's debatable depending upon your interpretation of his ownership agreement with MLB – then let him sue away. But how dare he claim, yet again, that he has the interests of the fan base at heart. His ownership stands, more than ever, at direct odds with what the Dodger community wants and needs.

"Everyone deserves a second chance," McCourt said. This is not in fact true – some people don't deserve a second chance, depending on the circumstances – but even if it were true in McCourt's case, he doesn't deserve his second chance more than others deserve a first chance – starting with Tom Schieffer, the monitor sent to Los Angeles by MLB to get to the bottom of this mess at the top.

"Dad, we're all grown up now. And we're tired of your complaints over a fate you engineered and your hollow apologies." Amen, and hallelujah. While there's still enough wiggle room for MLB to leave the Dodgers to McCourt, I expect that the current state of affairs is looking for excuses to take the team from him, something that Frank is already loudly protesting. It can't happen soon enough.

Update: It occurs to me that yesterday's he said/she said regarding MLB's stand on the Fox TV deal tells us possibly quite a bit about McCourt's thought processes, and just how perilous the franchise's fortunes are at this juncture. Consider: McCourt walks into a room with the MLB representatives, who tell him they won't immediately approve of the TV rights deal without further review. Frank walks out of the room with the idea that they said "no". Why would he surmise that? Only if his time frame for getting the money is, oh, next month. It's unlikely that Fox has the kind of cash that Frank needs just lying around, and so they would have to liquidate assets of some sort in order to pay him, even if it's just stuff like Treasuries. For Frank, any delay means bankruptcy.

Update 2: Missed this yesterday: TMZ says the McCourts skipped out on their $300/day hairdressing bill. You can't make this stuff up.

Update 3: "Mere millionaire" Stanley Stalford readies a bid for the Dodgers. Like McCourt, he's a real estate operator, but unlike McCourt, he's proposing to assemble a public offering in the Dodgers, though the team would operate as a nonprofit.

Bill Shaikin continues his yeoman's work on this story with a piece largely confirming my supposition above about McCourt's disagreement with MLB over the substance of the Fox TV pact:

While MLB has not revoked Frank McCourt's ownership, Selig has empowered Schieffer with financial authority over the franchise and has not approved a television contract with Fox that would have provided McCourt with a financial lifeline.

That effectively constitutes a seizure, according to those close to McCourt, since his inability to access Dodgers funds could force him to miss financial obligations. At that point, Selig could say he has the evidence to show that McCourt is financially unfit to own the Dodgers and say he must install new owners.


"They want us to rubber-stamp the deal with the history of the money they have misused?" said the person, not authorized to speak publicly because of the prospect of McCourt filing suit against the league.

Josh Fisher has more thoughts on this; he's remarkably generous to McCourt about not wanting him to suffer:
And I think Frank McCourt is more hurt by this whole drama than he's ever let on. He's got the look of someone who achieved his dreams for only the briefest moment, and then watched the story of his life's collapse on TMZ. It's E!'s True Hollywood Story in real-time. He probably shouldn't own the Dodgers very much longer--both for the team's sake and his own--and he has obviously made some very poor decisions along the way. But if you want Frank McCourt to suffer as he has...I respect your opinion. I just don't share it.
I frankly think he should suffer in the exact measure he has overreached, overspent, overindulged, looting the Dodgers along the way as a personal piggy bank for his own excess.

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All of this is directed at Frank, like "I frankly think he should suffer in the exact measure he has overreached, overspent, overindulged, looting the Dodgers along the way as a personal piggy bank for his own excess."

"They" is the right pronoun - Jamie has to go down with him and really was a bigger part of the problem from my view. She damaged the franchise as much as he did, if not more. Too bad he's the only one who's the focus of MLB accountability right now.

I don't disagree with anything you post, but the ex- should be right there next to him.
Good point.

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