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The Dodgers can’t meet May payroll

May 4, 2011, 6:57 AM EDT

Frank McCourt AP

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers do not have enough cash to meet payroll through this month. At least not the second round of it which comes due at the end of the month.

In April he got a $30 million loan from Fox to make ends meet. With Major League Baseball now approving any transactions — and with the Fox deal seemingly on life support if it’s even still alive — there won’t be any such cash infusions this month.

So, does Matt Kemp have to take a second job? Does Andre Ethier have to try to keep his hitting streak alive while his stomach growls because he can’t afford groceries?

Not quite. If McCourt fails to meet payroll, Major League Baseball will cover expenses. However, it is believed that pursuant to the standard ownership agreement to which McCourt is subject, baseball has the ability to fully seize the Dodgers if they have to cover payroll.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that McCourt’s talking point through all of this has been that his cash difficulties are the doing of Major League Baseball’s refusal to approve the Fox TV deal.  Yet he has never acknowledged that the Fox deal was the for the future, not the present. Or that, even if there was going to be a big upfront payment from Fox when the deal was struck, that his current state — debt heavy and cash poor —  was all of his own doing, not of Bud Selig’s.

I hope every single Dodger employee gets paid. But I hope it’s by Major League Baseball stepping in to do it, not by Frank McCourt.  Just to be safe: avoid going to Dodgers games for the month of May, people. I’d hate to see him make it just over the wire by virtue of a bump in beer sales or something.  Besides, you can listen to Vin Scully call the home games, so you won’t be missing out on not being there.

  1. thehypercritic - May 4, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    ” even if there was going to be a big upfront payment from Fox when the deal was struck, that his current state — debt heavy and cash poor –  was all of his own doing, not of Bud Selig’s.”

    I’d argue, quite vocally, that Bud Selig has a hand in the problem by prioritizing ownership groups that support his leaguewide agenda over the most economically robust bids.

    • dan1111 - May 4, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      I’d go even further. This development suggests that McCourt has a point in his complaint about MLB stepping into the Dodgers’ operations. MLB can take over the team if the Dodgers are unable to make payroll; MLB’s oversight has effectively prevented the Dodgers from making payroll. Is this a power play to take the team away from McCourt?

      I’m not interested in defending McCourt’s finances or the way he has run the Dodgers. But he does own the team, and in my opinion, ought not to have it seized by MLB until he really proves unable to stay in business.

      • Roger Moore - May 4, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        You’d be wrong, then. Frank McCourt does not own the Dodgers. He owns half the Dodgers, and Jamie McCourt owns half. They are now incapable of running the team effectively because Frank is trying to leverage his half of the team to buy Jamie out, and Jamie is fighting Frank’s moves tooth and nail because A) she wants to run the team instead and B) his moves hurt the overall value of the team and hence the value of her 50% share.

        None of that was MLB’s doing. And if MLB weren’t stepping in to block the Fox deal as detrimental to the team, Jamie McCourt would be suing- with a very good chance of success- to block it because it hurts her ownership interest. MLB is stepping in because the rest of the league can’t deal with the Dodgers imploding in midseason.

      • dlevalley - May 4, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        Exactly Roger. McCourt keeps saying that the Fox deal is ready for signatures. What he isn’t saying is that for it to be valid, it needs two signatures: his and Jamie’s. If he takes the Fox deal without Jamie’s agreement, it’s a material revaluation of a jointly owned asset. And that means she’s got a seriously claim against him, one that possibly could force him to sell the Dodgers through a court-appointed process.
        And that’s all without MLB involved! If MLB has been keeping Frank from signing the deal, it’s because they don’t want to be stuck trying to sell the team burdened by a FOX-friendly deal (thus lowering the price significantly).

  2. Cran Boy - May 4, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    I’ll say it again, as a Twins fan: CONTRACT THEM, BUD!!!

    • thehypercritic - May 4, 2011 at 8:18 AM

      Yes! Contract one of the most storied franchises in league history at a time of great financial prosperity because the ownership group you selected wasn’t equipped to own a major league team.

      Are you high?

      Sell them to Mark Cuban!

      • oikosjeremy - May 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

        Turn on the sarcasm detection feature on your browser–Cran Boy actually agrees with you. Not too long ago, the Twins were threatened with contraction, a threat which (especially in light of the current state of that franchise) makes about as much sense as a threat to contract the Dodgers.

      • BC - May 4, 2011 at 9:53 AM

        Merge them with the Mets. Maybe then my Metropolitans will have a chance to finish over .500.

      • Cran Boy - May 4, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        Thanks, Jeremy – yes, that was sarcasm. Though hypercritic, I’m on board with the Mark Cuban idea!

  3. svallen - May 4, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Even if the league steps in to cover costs, does it seem fair that MLB is using its money to pay for all of those player salaries this year? Furcal is set to make $13M, Kuroda $11.7M+, Either $9.5M, Kemp $7M…That is a ton of money for MLB to have to fork over.

    Might this be time to start talking about a team sale / team movement to another city?

    Contract sources:

    • yankeesfanlen - May 4, 2011 at 9:04 AM

      MLB money is really a consortium of the 30 teams’ money. I assume you’re protecting the interest of the Pirates, Royals, that use revenue sharing as profit, rather than player development.
      The Yankees seem to care only to the point that Randy Levine can then make snide comments about revenue sharing to outrage small markets, while knowing full well it’s just a cost of doing business.

    • hep3 - May 4, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      I believe they are also paying money, including deferred compensation, for Ned Colletti’s dream outfield of Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones and Manny Ramirez. Colletti is a maroon in his own right, but the situation is further exacerbated by McKnucklehead’s “ownership.”

      • florida727 - May 4, 2011 at 11:57 AM

        I’m guessing that “maroon” is a color (and not one of the Dodgers, by the way), and the word you’re looking to utilize there was “moron”, which by definition is a “person who is notably stupid or lacks good judgment”… courtesy of Then again, moron pretty accurately describes several people in MLB, McCourt and Selig among them :) Come to think of it, “idiot” is an even lower form of human intelligence, so I’m thinking that’s the more proper description of McCourt.

      • nullstadt - May 4, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        No, I’m pretty sure he meant to use ‘maroon,’ Mr. Pedantic…appears you didn’t watch much Bugs Bunny in your youth, or you would know the etymology of the term ‘maroon’ used in place of ‘moron.’

  4. steve keane - May 4, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Should never have left Brooklyn

    • seattlej - May 4, 2011 at 9:25 AM

      Yeah… I would love watching games where 75% of the fans are wearing skinny jeans and have bad facial hair. And it’s obvious that when your team is located in NYC all of your financial problems magically melt away… just ask the Mets.

      • steve keane - May 4, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        I see from your handle it’s just another rainy day where you live so sad! Yeah are you enjoying the SuperSonics run in the NBA playoffs?

    • henryd3rd - May 4, 2011 at 10:02 AM

      Yeah; you are so right. Walter O’Nalley should have stayed in Brooklyn and turned his back on that sweetheart deal that the city of Los Angeles gave him. Can you spell free land and no taxes? Yes; walk into a baseball starved part of the country that had huge population base and were willing to subsidize your operation. The Walter O’Malley made sound business decision; but baseball, i.e. Bud Selig and the other owners approved this deal over better capitalized groups because they felt more comfortable with McCourt and his family. This is going to get far more uglier before it is all over

      • steve keane - May 4, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        do a bit of research before you barf lies. Google Robert Moses and read all you can about him and then get back to me

      • yankeesfanlen - May 4, 2011 at 1:17 PM

        Steve Keane- You insunuate that Robert Moses ran them out of town which is a popular revisionist theory. And partially true. However, Moses offered the Brooklyn Dodgers the site of the 1964 World’s Fair, think Shea, that would offer a modern stadium and ample parking , admittedly cutting some of the aura from Ebbets, but in keeping with Moses overall “motoring” approach, which it is popular to condemn.
        O’Malley made the inevitable “quicker and more profitable” decision.

    • jwbiii - May 4, 2011 at 11:55 AM

      In the Dodgers’ last year in Brooklyn, they averaged less than 14,000 in attendance. It seems that there are more Brooklyn Dodgers fans now then there were in 1957.

  5. Jonny 5 - May 4, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    He’s bleeding the Dodgers to cover his a$$ elsewhere. He borrowed 30 million last month and now cannot make pay roll????? And please explain to me how it is that the Dodgers as a franchise don’t turn a profit. The Dodgers could make money with my dog running the show and the cat as VP, so where is the money going?

    • umrguy42 - May 4, 2011 at 9:41 AM

      Jonny, I vote we put your dog and cat in charge, then.

    • Old Gator - May 4, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      To pay for soothsayers….

      • jwbiii - May 4, 2011 at 12:08 PM

        Mortgage expenses for the McCourts’ properties would probably be a better answer. But both are equally useful from a Dodgers’ fan’s point of view.

        What is especially troubling to me is that this is early in the season. Teams should be flush with cash at this point. The season ticket money comes in over the winter when expenses are low. No player salaries, minimal operating costs for the stadium, and spring training doesn’t cost that much (no player salaries). Where did the season ticket revenues go? All for debt service and the McCourts’ pockets?

      • juicejuicer - May 4, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        on the topic of winter/early spring monies…where’s the money from renting out Dodgers Stadium to Monster Jam and Motocross? Surely that deal gave enough money to at least buy lunch!

        If you haven’t been listening to the interviews (i’ve heard three different ones since yesterday), his answer to ”where’s the money” is something along the lines of; 2011 was a planned down year, financially, based on his 3/5 year budget plans that MLB saw and gave ‘their blessings’ to. Every busines has operating expenses and this year was going to be a tough one.

        Now, I’m not a business-owner nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so somebody please correct me if im wrong. If you forsee that within 3 to 5 years you are going to be in such perilous financial standing that you are going to depend on a ludicrous deal that will devalue your business, you probably want to revise your plan…am I off base with this thought?

      • Jonny 5 - May 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM

        Dog says “woof!”

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 4, 2011 at 10:03 AM

      Message to Bud: The LA boycott will end once Jonny’s pets take control of the team.

      • Jonny 5 - May 4, 2011 at 10:21 AM

        The dog says it’s a Ruff! job but she thinks she could handle it with one paw tied behind her. The cat as usual is indifferent and he only requires constant petting, which isn’t much better than Jamie. I say it’s a good idea. Plus salary in Milk bones and catnip is a plus to the team.

      • cur68 - May 4, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        Christ Jonny, if you had a hamster we could replace Colletti, too.

      • Jonny 5 - May 4, 2011 at 12:35 PM

        Damn!!! I have a pet rock though!! How’s that?

      • cur68 - May 4, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        I like it. A rock wouldn’t run its damn mouth about its players.

    • kiwicricket - May 4, 2011 at 11:13 PM

      Let’s not jump to any hasty decisions Jonny. What sort of dog is it?

  6. buddygrant - May 4, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Two words: Bake sale!

  7. BC - May 4, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    This about sums it up:

  8. jamie54 - May 4, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Should have gone to ARod for the loan and have him charge 20% interest. In Arod we trust.

  9. SmackSaw - May 4, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    He still has 2 years on the current TV contract. Where is the money ? Get out of town, McCourt.

  10. ricofoy - May 4, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Scully is as finished as Jeter. He made that walk-off homer by Kemp sound as exciting as a groundout to short. Time to call it a career Vinny.

    • Brian Murphy - May 4, 2011 at 10:17 PM

      What would have him rather say? “YOU CAN PUT IT ON THE BOOOOOOOOOOOARD!”? One of the things that still makes Vin so refreshing these days is that he’s one of the very, very few local baseball broadcasters who doesn’t become a rabid, screaming, unabashed homer every time the Dodgers do something good. He pays near-equal respect and excitement to both sides and let’s the game play out without forcing his voice to overshadow the action. Even at age 83, sometimes calling the game by himself for both radio and television, he remains an elite narrator of the game.

      But hey, we are all allowed to have our own opinions.

  11. anarchy65 - May 4, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    H-Town here! We’ll trade you Drayton McLane for a draft pick to be named later.

    • Kevin S. - May 5, 2011 at 4:12 AM

      You’re losing McLane in a rather painless fashion. The Jim Crane Era should begin shortly.

  12. aceshigh11 - May 4, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Man, this McCourt guy is a three-ring circus. How did this idiot even make his millions in the first place??

    • cur68 - May 4, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      His family made the money in Boston. They were real estate developers who specialized in parking lots. Frank inherited a profitable business and bought some prime Boston real estate from a bankrupt company for peanuts and developed parking lots. He turned over that property to MLB (I think) to get the Dodgers out of debt when he bought it from Rupert Murdoch. That and 400 or so million is how he comes to own the Dodgers in 2004. He promptly used the team as his own personal piggy bank for more real estate deals and, when the real estate markets and mortgage crisis hit, found himself with more debt than capital.

      • aceshigh11 - May 4, 2011 at 11:41 AM

        Thanks for the summary!

        Why am I not surprised that he’s just another trust fund baby who was born on third and thinks he hit a triple?

      • jwbiii - May 4, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        “He turned over that property to MLB”

        Fox, actually. He used the Boston property (parking lots) as collateral when buying the Dodgers from Fox, defaulted on the loan, and then Fox took possession of the property. This is the “$150M of my hard-earned cash” he refers to in interviews.

      • cur68 - May 4, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        Ah yes, it was FOX. I was a bit hazy on that stuff. I knew it had to do with Rupert Murdoch somehow. I didn’t realize he defaulted on the loan and had to give up the Boston parking lots. I thought that was his intention. After all some parking lots in Boston for a baseball team as profitable as the Dodgers seems like an awesome deal to me. I am not, however, surprised to hear screwed it up and had the property seized. Private sale of that land would have been probably twice as much. What a clown.

  13. paperlions - May 4, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    It seems that many people that made a lot of money primarily in real estate (e.g. McCourt, Wilpon, Trump) are much too comfortable being in debt.

  14. Brian Murphy - May 4, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    I’m going to a Dodgers game on May 19. Sorry. If he makes it by $40-50, you’ll know who to blame.

  15. rcali - May 4, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    $10.50 beers and $20 to park in the worlds largest parking lot isn’t bringing in enough revenue?

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