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On second thought, Frank McCourt may be ready to fight Bud Selig like there’s no tomorrow

Apr 21, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

File photo of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaking at a news conference about increased security at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

“We need more people like Frank McCourt.”

You will not be at all surprised to learn that that is the assessment of Frank McCourt’s newest employee, Steve Soboroff, who was hired as the Dodgers’ Vice Chairman on Tuesday. Soboroff was hired in order to help the Dodgers get their security situation in order, but based on his comments to the L.A. Times today, he’s making protecting Frank McCourt his top priority.

His beef: McCourt has a deal in place for a $3 billion television rights package that he alleged would solve all of the Dodgers’ problems and put them in a position in which they’re as financially secure as almost any team in baseball.  Major League Baseball, however, is being unfair he claims:

“This is like having money in the bank and having somebody hold your ATM card,” Soboroff said. “The money is in the bank. The Fox deal is done. These actions are not allowing him to access money. That’s a lot different than saying he’s got financial problems.”

If you’re thinking that this is a warning shot from McCourt to Bud Selig, you’re right. That kind of claim — baseball is interfering with our right to make money! — is the stuff of a tort action.  And while I was somewhat dismissive of the prospects of a lawsuit in my posts earlier this morning — and on a straight “does baseball have the right to do this” basis, I still think McCourt has no legitimate claim —  these comments (and some more research into Frank McCourt’s more-litigious-than-I-remembered history) make me wonder if we’re not ready for Armageddon.

On baseball’s side are the contractual provisions McCourt and every other owner signs in which he pledged not to sue Major League Baseball. Which is great in theory, but when your new right-hand man starts claiming that baseball is acting in bad faith, all bets are off.  As I’ve written in the past with respect to team relocation and ownership approval rules, baseball has a whole series of regulations and procedures it makes owners agree to that only exist because no one is willing to challenge them. If someone — especially someone with nothing to lose — decides to fight, a lot of those rules may simply fall away as, like, totally illegal.

Then there’s the fact that McCourt has already been embarrassed publicly by virtue of years of litigation while Major League Baseball still, presumably, does not want to have its business opened up in litigation. Even if baseball’s right to push McCourt out and take over the team is vindicated, it will only come after a lot of the dirty business of baseball ownership is revealed, and again, McCourt has little to lose in this regard.

So, if McCourt makes it clear that he’s willing to scorch the Earth over this, how does baseball respond?  Does Bud Selig really want this fight?  And, on the very safe assumption that he has already anticipated it, what is his end game?

Just a wild guess: a sale of the team which McCourt agrees not to fight in exchange for him walking away with more money than he otherwise would have given his current debt level. In other words, baseball eating some of McCourt’s debt in the name of making him simply go away.

Whatever the case, while Bud Selig’s actions yesterday were audacious, it is starting to look like Frank McCourt’s response to them may be even more audacious.

  1. Old Gator - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    “King Kong versus Godzilla. If we’re lucky, they will destroy each other.”

    • dexterismyhero - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      What would Jamie McCourt be? Triceratops maybe?

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        Naaa, she’s still just a wacky b_ _ _……..

      • Old Gator - Apr 21, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        Jamie? Well,if you want to extenuate the dinosaur metaphor, she’d be a veloceraptor in one of those updated artist’s renderings with all the garish feathers sticking out of its head. Or she’d maybe be one of the singing dwarves from Mothra, the one the other dwarf has to cover.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 21, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        “Clever girl…”

      • Old Gator - Apr 21, 2011 at 12:16 PM

        Hehheh. Excellent. Save “You didn’t say the magic word” for later, OK?

  2. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    This is typical FMC. He will continue digging his hole until the Earth falls in on him and he gets buried.

    Sad and demented. Go back to Boston, Frank. The baseball gods have spoken.

  3. mgflolox - Apr 21, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    I would bet McCOURT isn’t the only team owner whose financial position falls outside MLB’s guidelines. I would love to see this fight take place and see all team’s finances aired out in public. Tear down the whole system, bring on the apocalypse! Can’t be any worse than what we have now.

    • Old Gator - Apr 21, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      I don’t think it’d be unfair to criticize Bud for trying to throw McCourt overboard in mute nostril agony like this yet placing the full range of his, eh, good offices at the disposal of the Wilpons at the same time. Unless, of course, negotiating the Wilpons’ support for his putsch against McCourt was part of the deal. But the Bud Light we know and love would never try to screw anyone up the wazoo like that, would he?

      • spindervish - Apr 22, 2011 at 1:49 PM

        “Horse Latitudes”?? Damn G… I do believe you’re starting to grow on me.

    • banksatdixie - Apr 21, 2011 at 12:23 PM

      Right, this cash cow they have now is a real burden.

  4. riverace19 - Apr 21, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    The sooner Frank McCourt is out of baseball, the better off MLB will be. Too many rich (or incredibly in debt) scumbags in this sport.

  5. mrznyc - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Craig, I think you’re right – Bad move on Bud’s part. He should give the Dodgers back to Frank and take the Mets away from the Wilpons – There. Now everyone’s happy.

  6. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Apr 21, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    The last straw was not the money. It was McCourt deciding to save buck by cutting way back on security at the Dodgers games. If the Dodgers had had their normal security force on opening the near killing of the Giant fan probably won’t have happened.

    • bigdicktater - Apr 21, 2011 at 6:51 PM

      I hope McCourt and the two creeps that beat Brian Stow get front row seats in Hell.

  7. mrznyc - Apr 22, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    What the Hell is going on?? – Bud Selig takes over the Dodgers citing their 450 million indebtedness as a reason for his action – Good Grief, the Mets have 600 million in loans out on the team and another 800 million in loans against SNY, the television network that broadcasts the games (So there is no FOX to go to for a TV deal), PLUS, Irving Picard, the Bernie Madoff prosecutor wants 1 Billion for the Wilpons for their involvement in the Ponzi scheme. All the arguments about Frank McCourt running the beloved Dodgers into the ground ring rather hollow when you compare the Dodger team to the one presently playing at Citi Field. What’s going on Bud? You got a few fingers in the Bernie mess that we don’t know about?

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