What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Frank McCourt Death Watch: Day One
It is time to start the countdown until Frank McCourt no longer owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. Everything seems to be closing in on him; there’s the divorce settlement which hinged on the TV deal, which Commissioner Bud Selig just rejected, which means we are headed for a one-day trial in August which will likely result in an immediate sale when the Dodgers are declared to be community property.
Here is MLB’s “official story” on the matter.
“This decision was reached after a full and careful consideration of the terms of the proposed transaction and the club’s current circumstances,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “It is my conclusion that this proposed transaction with FOX would not be in the best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise, the game of Baseball and the millions of loyal fans of this historic club.”
“We know killing this TV deal should drive the last nail in this asshole’s coffin, and the sooner we get rid of this guy, the better because once McCourt is gone, no one will ask questions as to why Selig approved this turd-loaf as an owner in the first place.”
Then, there is the matter of McCourt’s repsonse.
“We are extremely disappointed with the Commissioner’s rejection of the proposed FOX transaction which would inject $235 million into the Los Angeles Dodgers,” the statement read. “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.
“Commissioner Selig’s letter of rejection is not only a disappointment, but worse, is potentially destructive to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Major League Baseball. Accordingly, 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.”
Of course, it has a translation all of its own.
“Oh man, I’m soooo fucked. If it isn’t that bitch wife, it’s that cocksucker Selig. Why does everybody have to make being a lying, cheating scumbag so hard?”
Frank McCourt has already struggled to make payroll, and now that his last means of revenue has been strangled, there is a very real possibility that once he fails to meet his obligations on June 30, MLB could seize the team and force a sale.
Even if McCourt somehow manages to survive into August, the terms of the McCourt’s divorce settlement had set a one-day trial for Aug. 4 to decide if the Dodgers are solely the property of Frank McCourt or if the team is a marital asset to be split.
No matter how long McCourt survives, the minute the plug gets pulled, it seems McCourt is girding his loins for a protracted legal battle over MLB’s right to take over the team and/or to force Selig to approve the FOX deal.
As he runs out of options to stave off a complete MLB seizure, McCourt also digs in his heels for a protracted confrontation on baseball’s authority to exercise control on anything beyond the team itself.
Sources familiar with McCourt’s strategy indicated Monday that significant sources of Dodgers revenue would not be available to Major League Baseball or another owner without McCourt’s consent. These are said to include a $21 million annual lease obligation owed from the team to a McCourt entity for the club’s use of the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium and any ticket revenue in excess of the $6-7 million per year of service on certain McCourt debt, according to the sources. This year’s figures were not available, but the surplus cash after debt service exceeded $60 million in 2005. Both of these revenue streams are slated to stay with McCourt for at least 20 more years.
The lease payments and ticket sales revenue could act together as a poison pill discouraging what would be called in the corporate world a hostile takeover. Baseball’s recourse would most likely be legal action seeking a determination that such revenue cannot be diverted from team operations. McCourt’s counter could be that baseball has always had knowledge of these practices and, indeed, approved the separate sale of the team and surrounding land when McCourt purchased the Dodgers before the 2004 season.
The takeaway for fans is that McCourt likely will make a complete MLB takeover as painful as possible. After all, any money baseball spends running the Dodgers until a new owner is identified ultimately comes from the league’s other 29 team owners. Furthermore, the team is likely much less marketable to potential ownership groups if such significant revenue streams do not flow back to the team, but to McCourt entities.
While McCourt struggles to retain control of the foundering franchise, the contractual disposition of Dodgers revenue may indeed be a negotiating position aimed at extracting as much blood from baseball as he can while he still has some leverage. His camp is concerned that baseball will not get sufficient value in a sale of the club, and it is by far the most significant asset he has left.
Rejection of the deal signals both baseball’s desire to force Frank out of the game and its willingness to take high risks in doing so. Running the Dodgers without tens of millions of dollars of revenue and subjecting the sport to a potentially damaging lawsuit on the eve of a renegotiation of its labor deal are great costs, but ones Selig is evidently willing to bear.
The next step in this developing saga may be the commencement of that very litigation. McCourt may seek an emergency order barring Major League Baseball from denying the Fox deal and ultimately seizing the Dodgers. Such a lawsuit has likely been on the desks of McCourt’s attorneys for weeks, ready for just this sort of occasion.
At the end of the day, ultimately McCourt will soon not own this team for one simple, honest reason that no lawyers can change. The guy simply is out of money.