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Frank and Jamie McCourt: masters of logic

Jul 29, 2011, 9:13 AM EDT

Combination of file photos of Frank and Jamie McCourt during their divorce trial in Los Angeles

Frank and Jamie McCourt had a hearing in their divorce case yesterday.  Because both of them are ridiculous, the hearing was ridiculous.

Jamie McCourt’s lawyers referred to Frank’s battles with Major League Baseball as a “jihad,” which pulls the neat trick of being simultaneously offensive to those who believe in the concept of jihads and those who have been the victims of putative jihads over time.  But hey, it’s Jamie McCourt, so I’m not expecting anything reality-based here.

Frank McCourt — for whom, at least in the context of the whole marital support issue with Jamie, I have some degree of sympathy — was also ludicrous.  In a filing, the subject of his fight with MLB came up. Specifically, the claim that Frank has taken over $100 million out of the Dodgers for his personal use.  Now, there are a lot of ways to deal with that. You could note that it has little to do with the divorce case. Or you can mildly take issue with it and note that it’s something being litigated.  Frank’s tack, however, was rather dumb:

“Even taking the commissioner’s false claim that $100 million was taken out of the Dodgers at face value, it is difficult to understand how the commissioner can complain about this when he pays himself a salary of approximately $20 million a year — meaning that he has taken out between $120 million and $140 million from baseball revenues during the same period that he complains about $100 million being taken out by the owner of a team.”

Really, Frank? That’s where you want to go?  To compare your looting of your team via shell corporations and limited liability companies to Bud Selig’s salary, which is voted on and approved by the other major league teams? Do you really want to admit that you view the Los Angeles Dodgers as your personal piggy bank, equivalent to the paycheck of an individual from his employer?  More broadly, do you really want to reveal to a judge that you have such a poor handle on the concept of analogies that you’d trot this one out?  Talk about a credibility killer.

But that counterargument to McCourt’s little equivalency pales compared to the simple way that MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred dealt with it:

In response, MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred agreed that McCourt had not taken $100 million from the team. “He took a lot more than that,” Manfred said in a statement.

Oh, snap.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    I’m still trying to figure out the illegality of taking any amount of money out of your privately held company for personal use. I understand if there are tax issues. But if it is his privately held company, and he wanted to take out a billion dollars for his personal use, where’s the issue? I know there is an issue with the ex wife…but what is MLB’s issue?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:35 AM

      While I can’t speak to the legality* of it, don’t you think there is something ethically wrong with taking money out of your company for personal use and not being able to pay your employees at the same time? The issue MLB has with McCourt is he’s well down a slippery slope of being unable to meet his financial obligations to his employees.

      *Since I’m not a lawyer, after reading those comments by Jamie and Frank, couldn’t the divorce judge just order them both to get remarried? Seems like a fair enough punishment for both of them.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:42 AM

        Oh, hell yeah. I never said McCourt is a Saint…he is an unethical dirtbag who drained his team for his personal use. And killed the hearts of Dodgers fans in the process. I don’t feel sorry for him and that creature wife of his one bit.

        All I am questioning is MLB’s actions in the matter. Seems like a lot of trying to save face over the fact that they let this guy into their club on the back of an empty parking lot 2500 miles away when they could have let in a guy like Mark Cuban…but MLB is so damned scared to let in an owner with a little backbone, even if he has a TON of cash. That is as much of the story here as anything else…why a guy like McCourt can buy a team with so much leveraged and a BILLIONAIRE like Mark Cuban is left out in the cold.

    • paperlions - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      Chris, the issue is that the team is a franchise, part of a group, and NOT an autocratic entity, though individually owned. Leagues can not have rules that allow owners to sack a franchise….if they did, teams would disappear from the league and kill values. In this case, if they simply allowed McCourt to continue on his way without stepping in, he would miss payroll, resulting in all Dodgers being declared FAs. Even if that somehow didn’t happen, McCourt would wind up selling off every decent player, losing the fan base, and make the Dodgers a non-entity in MLB. You simply can’t allow owners to behave in a way the compromises competition. If you don’t want to follow those rules, which you agreed to when buying the team, then don’t borrow money to buy a team.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:53 AM

        OK paper, that makes sense to me. So then wouldn’t that mean that when MLB has a team up for sale, they should probably sell it to the guy who HAS THE MOST MONEY??? I mean, sure it is nice to have a bunch of guys who will keep their mouths shut and quietly own a team. But is it worth the legal nightmare that is now the LA Dodgers? Sorry, but I have ZERO sympathy for MLB when they let this guy into their club as leveraged as he was. ZERO.

        And I doubt very much they will learn from their mistakes and let someone like Cuban into baseball when he would be someone with a TON of cash who cares about winning.

      • paperlions - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:56 AM

        I agree that they fucked up, but it is far better to admit the mistake and address it (even if they may not learn from it)…than to ignore it and act like everything is great. For many people, it would probably have been helpful if Bud would have issued a public statement saying that they erred in choosing the McCourts and that now they have to fix their mistake.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:59 AM

        but I have ZERO sympathy for MLB when they let this guy into their club as leveraged as he was. ZERO

        Except the issue with McCourt is a two part problem. For one, I’m sure MLB will be more restrictive on buyers who leverage a ton of debt into getting a team (like McCourt did). That’s one issue they are dealing with. The other issue, as Craig mentioned, is how he’s split off a ton of the “businesses” of the Dodgers. The first problem is easy to fix, but how do you solve the second one?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 29, 2011 at 10:18 AM

        I’m glad we all agree that MLB seriously screwed the pooch here. I just wish we would see more of THAT sentiment in the media instead of 24/7 McCourt is the devil reporting. Yeah, he may be the devil, but he shouldn’t have been brought into the club in the first place.

        Paper, as far as fixing the problem…MLB is doing what they have to do I guess and if, as you said, what McCourt did is against some rules for MLB owners, he is possibly in some legal trouble. But if the courts don’t agree, then I guess McCourt has MLB by the balls.

      • asawadude - Jul 29, 2011 at 11:47 PM

        “Fixing” the Dodgers could be damn near impossible now that McCourt has subdivided the Dodger properties into holding companies that he directly controls. If MLB seizes the operations; McCourt still holds title to the stadium and parking lots, and owns various concessions including the parking and ticketing services. So essentially, MLB would be seizing all the liabilities while McCourt would continue to own the assets.

        I’m no legal expert, but if MLB takes control of the team, they need to find a way to break the contracts tied to McCourt owned entities. Perhaps, the bankruptcy filing might pave the way for the franchise to walk away from the stadium and parking contracts. Doing so would inevitably require a temporary move elsewhere, possibly to Angel Stadium. The best and only solution is one that cuts all revenue streams to McCourt holdings.

        I envision McCourt holding Dodger Stadium hostage. The future owner of the Dodgers had better have a good plan for where this team lands – perhaps in a dual use Downtown stadium. However, AEG seems to want no part of such a plan. But it’s early and the situation can change.

        I eagerly look forward to the day McCourt gets the royal boot. It might rank up there with a Koufax perfect game.

  2. Old Gator - Jul 29, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    My younger brother is going through a very bitter divorce of his own right now so I’m kinda hard pressed to see the humor in this situation.


  3. APBA Guy - Jul 29, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    All of us who’ve been through contentious divorces are feeling like we want to sympathize with Frank, but he’s such slime that we can’t, so then we want to sympathize with Jamie, but we can’t because she’s so everything we associate with our ex’es, only more so. Some form of localized plague comes to mind when I read about these two.

    • IdahoMariner - Jul 29, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      you might want to rephrase that as “all of us MEN who’ve gone through contentious divorces” — because I have also been through one, but, as a woman, I have no natural inclination to try to sympathize with Frank.

      That’s not to say I have a natural inclination to try to sympathize with Jamie, because I like to find out who is acting crazy and who is being treated unfairly before I decide — that’s my natural inclination, to sympathize with the one being treated unfairly, doesn’t matter if they are male or female.

      On the other hand, as a rational, thinking human being, I don’t have a natural inclination to try to sympathize with either one of these people.

  4. IdahoMariner - Jul 29, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    “oh, snap” is right — that comment by Manfred is genius. Pure genius.

  5. derpdederpdederp - Jul 29, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    who needs trade talk when you have this kind of grade-A entertainment?

  6. qcubed3 - Jul 29, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Is it me, or does Jamie McCourt look like Frank McCourt in drag?

  7. lanflfan - Jul 29, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Yes, Frank is that dumb. Apparently his attorney is also that dumb.

    Beautiful retort by Manfred. I can’t wait for McCourt’s next (lame) comeback.

    Frank is lucky this is 2011. If this were the Middle Ages, us peasants would have long since grabbed the pitchforks and torches and made him into manure.

  8. alv2011 - Jul 29, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    For those of you who are *equally* sick of Jamie and Frank and think neither of them would be good for this team…for those who want neither involved in the Dodgers francise… we have a movement to oust them both:

    Hopefully we can get a critical mass of people to help us throw the bums out.

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