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The Dodgers are the kids in a custody battle

Oct 23, 2009, 8:50 AM EDT

Normally, if you fire someone at work after you stop sleeping together, you’re going to get sued for sexual harassment. Of course, what’s going on in L.A. ain’t exactly normal:

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has fired his estranged wife, Jamie, from her position as the team’s chief executive, triggering what her attorney said would be an imminent legal response.

“Jamie is disappointed and saddened by her termination,” attorney Dennis Wasser said Thursday. “As co-owner of the Dodgers, she will address this and all other issues in the courtroom.”

OK, so this one might actually be uglier than a sexual harassment suit. Those are awful, but companies survive them and often learn something in the process. This, on the other hand, is going to wreck the Dodgers for a good long while.  Why? Because of this:

Jamie McCourt is believed to be lining up investors for a possible effort to buy her husband out and gain sole control of the team. In addition, she was believed to have started calling prominent baseball figures, with the intention of arranging meetings to discuss the direction of the team.

There have been ownership battles before, but they almost always involve fights over money and the analysis of contracts and stock certificates and stuff. With a married couple each claiming the team is community property, each is going to have to try and establish that they, in practice, are the owners of the team, just like a husband in any normal divorce would try to establish that he really and truly was entitled to the boat because he always used it or a wife would try and show that she gets the prized show dogs because she’s the one that grooms them. 

Except with the Dodgers, it’s Frank McCourt trying to show that he owns the team by firing his wife/employee.  At the same time, that “arranging meetings to discuss the direction of the team” stuff could mean that Jamie McCourt is going to try and show that she owns the team. What happens if she sends an email to Ned Colletti telling him to trade Clayton Kershaw? Or, more realistically, pledges a million bucks to some charity on behalf of the Dodgers? Based on the positions everyone is taking, it would be hard to figure out what to do.

If I were her lawyer, I’d tell her to try and show up for work this morning and see if big Frank has the stones to escort her off the premises with a security guard. If he doesn’t, it tends to show that she’s an owner too. If he does, she gets some sensational media coverage and probably no small amount of sympathy.  OK, maybe I wouldn’t tell her to do that, but I’m sure some divorce lawyer would.

But even if they avoid that kind of high drama, the Dodgers now find themselves as the kids in a custody battle.  And as any of you who have been in that position can attest, that’s not a fun place to be.

  1. Ron - Oct 23, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    As a Giant fan I can only say how truly sorry I am that the McCourts are having such problems.

  2. Old Gator - Oct 23, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    It’s hard to believe that she could be a worse owner than her husband, though. Of course, who knows what really goes on in the privacy of a couple’s preeminently public marriage? We revile McCourt because his penny-ante ownership policies are emasculating a great baseball team, but for all we know she might actually be like the Cameron Diaz character from “Any Given Sunday” and Bud Selig might come away from meeting with her thinking that she, too, would eat her own children. Watch for signs of dark blue threads between her teeth on the next ESPN closeup.

  3. Business CO-OWNER and WIFE - Oct 23, 2009 at 11:59 AM

    They need to start acting like adults and deal with business as professionals, not squabbling children. When there are problems at the home front, you never carry them into the business workplace. That is the death-knoll for business and marriage – as we are seeing.

  4. True Blue Fan - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:06 PM

    Jamie McCourt told her mother at 9 yrs old that she wanted to buy a baseball team. She has loved baseball longer than she has loved Frank. She practiced as an attorney for 15 years before she got her MBA at MIT. Do not count this woman out;she’s one sharp businesswoman. My prayers to them both that this gets resolved amicably.

  5. World F'n Champs - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:11 PM

    This can only lead one to believe that the Dodgers organization will be in complete shambles.

  6. ManWithBrain - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    Too bad neither of them can hit with power and play left field. With Manny’s obvious demise, that’s what they truly need.

  7. Old Gator - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:15 PM

    I agree. They might want to look to the Joe Robbie family for a model of what dignified behavior looks like. Then, of course, there’s Jeffrey Loria and his ex-wife. He’s keeping prized poodle in-law and team president David Samson around as long as he doesn’t start peeing on the rugs.

  8. CD - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:16 PM

    I’m already scared of ever getting married. Reading this isn’t helping me conquer my phobia.

  9. Lone Wolf - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    Sounds like trophy wife is getting ready to clobber hubby with the trophy!

  10. JimInPhilly - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:20 PM

    Guess we won’t get a chance to decimate the Dodgers next year. Sounds like it will be a miracle if they see post-season play!

  11. Carolyn - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    Childish antics of a pouting, spoiled couple who insist on airing their dirty laundry in public.
    I do not care how educated they are. They have no class.

  12. NRESQ - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    Hey True Blue:
    Or are you really Jamie, or one of the kids, or Jamie’s PR flack? How do you know this stuff? Neither of the McCourt’s knows how to operate a baseball team for any reason other than to enrich themselves so they can purchase mega-bucks Southern California real estate. Rather than blow money on property, why didn’t either of them use some of the money to acquire a couple of front line pitchers? Think they could have used some pitching in the Phillies series (35 runs scored in 5 games)? That would have been the right move for someone who has allegedly wanted to own a baseball team since she was 9 years old. Bottom line–Sell the Dodgers to an ownership group that is properly funded and is more interested in putting a first class team on the field rather than making money, thereby justifying the faith (and money spent) of the 3.5M Dodger fans who purchase tickets every year. Look no further than the Angels as an example of a team that is doing it right.

  13. lone Wolf - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    Take it from an old man CD! Keep that phobia and you will be in the long run a far happier man for it! It is easy to get it but damn hard to get rid of it!

  14. Jason - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM

    Thank you Ron, your heartfelt well wishes are truely appreciated by all Dodgers fans. ; )

  15. Gee - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    LW:
    True dat!

  16. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    To be fair, she’s not a trophy wife. They’ve been married for 30 years. She also has a law degree, an MBA, taught MBA level business classes, and held big corporate and legal jobs in the private sector before joining the McCourt business.
    Which doesn’t mean they’re not being jackasses. They are. Just means that she has some acumen of her own.

  17. Old Gator - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:35 PM

    Thirty happy years and counting. Only problem is that at my age it’s getting harder and harder to remember our anniversary.
    Anyway, a happy and long-lasting marriage is eminently do-able; the trick, I learned early on, was to give her everything she wanted and do everything she said. That’s all there is to it.

  18. Will - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    Thats show biz.

  19. NRESQ - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    Craig: See my comment above.

  20. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    Fair enough, but I don’t see how it’s relevant. I said McCourt wasn’t a trophy wife and has some business acumen. Which is true. Doesn’t mean that she’s a great baseball owner. David Glass has business acumen and is not a trophy wife either, at least as far as I know, and he sucks at running a baseball team as well.

  21. The Stu Klitenic All-Stars - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:43 PM

    The faux outrage by internet commenters is so predictable. Are you people really this easily offended?

  22. The Stu Klitenic All-Stars - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    Carolyn…you need to get a grip.

  23. NRESQ - Oct 23, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    As someone who has been watching the McCourt’s closely since they got to town, I think Carolyn’s comments are right on the money!

  24. erin - Oct 23, 2009 at 1:21 PM

    To Lone Wolf,
    What makes you so sure that Jamie is a “trophy” wife? Maybe Frank is a “trophy” husband. Who knows. She is obviously no bimbo. Just like most divorces, it’s the “kids”–team players and staff in this case (as well as the fans)–who will suffer also.
    I understand that Jamie has been a hands-on, decision-making, hard working executive who has been working at the stadium almost every day; so, she hasn’t been a “trophy” executive. Now if she was fired for incompetence or some other valid reason, that’s different.

  25. It's Me - Oct 23, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    If you are a Giants fan why would you care about the Dodgers? Unless you AREN’T a Giants fan and you are just saying that so you can be a like a double spy or some other dastardly deed.

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