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The Dodgers-McCourt case may implicate the Marlins

Sep 27, 2011, 1:03 PM EDT

Combination of file photos of MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt

Good story over at the Los Angeles Times today illustrating just how gnarly things can get when litigation ensues, even if you think you have the clear high ground going in.

The upshot: Major League Baseball has been very sharp in its legal briefs thus far saying what we all know: Frank McCourt is undercapitalized and has used his team as a personal cash cow. ¬†McCourt’s logical response: “I ain’t the only one.” And he’s likely to seek the financials from other teams to prove it. ¬†Bill Shaikin notes that the Marlins may be particularly interesting given how clearly Jeff Loria was steered into the ownership chair of that team and how little of the Marlins’ revenue sharing money has been spent for baseball purposes.

In other McCourt news, there was apparently a hearing in the case this morning. It was mostly about schedules and boring stuff like that, but apparently McCourt’s lawyers argued that the Dodgers’ late season play — they’re going to finish over .500 — and the fact that Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp are leading candidates for postseason awards vindicates his management of the team and shows that it has not been harmed.

I don’t think that gets him very far — the business health of the team is every bit as important, if not more so, than the baseball health for the purposes of this proceeding — but I’m gonna be really mad if Kemp and Kershaw are even partially responsible for McCourt holding on to the Dodgers. They’re two of my favorite players right now, but I don’t think that can remain the case if that happens.

  1. Old Gator - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    So McCourt the walking dead says, “I know you’re up there, Jeffrey – I can smell your bray-yain.

    Except that it won’t work with the Feesh, unfortunately. Scrooge McLoria and/or the Chihuahua, who is usually his appointed vocalizer for situations like this-a-one, would simply contend that under the terms of their old restrictive lease at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium they were forced to conserve their income because they knew they would soon be moving into their own facility, and that the splurge in contract extensions and free agent signings over the past season and this coming orfseason demonstrate that they were simply being canny businessmen – whereas McCourt so badly mismanaged his cash flow and exploited his business that he sent it spiraling into bankruptcy.

  2. dailyrev - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    K&K are great players, no doubt, and Donnie Baseball has had that team playing with energy and focus since late July — no surprise in any of that. It could also be argued that this team might have made a run had they been organized and distraction-free from day one in April.

    Let’s say they win out in AZ — that would leave them <10G behind at the end. Now I don't know if there's a WAR stat for divorces, but how many games did all that inanity possibly cost them?

  3. bigleagues - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Suddenly I find myself pulling for McCourt – in the hopes that some of those financials become part of the public record :-)

    • lanflfan - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:44 PM

      McCourt is an ownership cancer, nuke him fast and don’t let him taint other, healthy parts. No good comes from him.

      • bigleagues - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        I don’t disagree with that, but I just want to see me some more of them financials!

      • cur68 - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:08 PM

        Finance porn is ruining your nation.

      • lanflfan - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:12 PM

        bigleagues,

        I definitely understand where you are coming from, but ask yourself this: would you want Frank McCourt owning your favorite team?

        cur68,

        Greed is ruining this nation, symbolized by people like Frank McCourt running wild and screwing the economy.

      • bigleagues - Sep 27, 2011 at 7:25 PM

        Ianflfan:

        No, I wouldn’t and thanks to the one underhanded thing that CEO Selig did right (delivering the John Henry ownership group to Boston and installing McCourt instead in LA) I and millions of others have witnessed the greatest decade of Red Sox baseball since Babe Ruth wore the uniform.

        But the McCourt mess is one that Selig created for himself. And the current economics of baseball have been shepherded by Selig. This isn’t the first time we have heard of other owners who are under-capitalized, operating their franchises on shoe string budgets, while pocketing various MLB revenue sharing monies as profit, even as potentially great operators such as Mark Cuban have been shunned by The CEO.

        McCourt’s fate is sealed. He will surrender this franchise willingly or by legal force – in the meantime, if we can get a “MLB financial porn” peep show, then I’ve got a roll of quarters burning a hole in my pocket.

  4. lanflfan - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    With even semi-competent ownership, and the season that Kemp and Kershaw have put together, there is no reason why this team wouldn’t be in the postseason. But when you have a two-cent owner who thinks the Dodgers are a personal ATM, and treats fans like walking dollar signs, this is what you get. VERY frustrating as a Dodger fan, and I can’t wait until his bum arse is kicked out of LA for good (it can’t be too soon).

    However, I do think he has a point on other teams (not that it should matter in the Dodgers case, unless he tries the “but Johnny’s parents let him do it” tactic). Annually, MLB should look at each team, especially notorious cheapskate Loria, and make sure owners are truly interested in fielding a complete baseball team and not just raking in cash. A salary floor really should be part of the CBA, with an eye to a cap soon as well. Marlins fans (and players) deserve better than jackass Jeff Loria, and greedy owners like him and McCourt need to be weeded out of sports.

    • Alex K - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:02 PM

      No way should there be a salary cap. It won’t make baseball better, it will make owners richer. And it will possibly make teams worse because in order to meet the floor a team will have to pay some free agents possibly blocking a young player who could use the development time in the big leagues.

  5. icanspeel - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Throw the Padres in there as their owner bought them on a layaway plan and still hasn’t finished paying off the team while putting out a small payroll and collecting the profits to probably help finish paying off the purchase of the team.

  6. roycethebaseballhack - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    I think the biggest difference in these cases vs. McCourt, The Dodgers, et al., is that, as crummy of an ownership group The Marlins might have, it didn’t send them into bankruptcy court. They were just cheap, crummy owners who blew their cash on candy and comic books. They might be inept, but they aren’t bankrupt.

    • aaronmoreno - Sep 27, 2011 at 9:01 PM

      And that may be a pretty good defense to McCourt seeking other teams’ financials. After all, the other teams may not have a bunch of money, but they can make payroll.

  7. dihigosghost - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    McCourt should go, the sooner the better. Having said that, if there are any other owners engaged in the same financial BS then they should go to.

  8. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Sep 27, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    I want Frank McCourt to get a Frank McJudgment where he’s found Frank McGuilty for the way he’s been running his Frank McOperations, and I want him Frank McGone forever.

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