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Tag:Frank McCourt
Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:42 pm
 

McCourt, MLB discuss settlement to sell Dodgers

McCourtBy Evan Brunell

The bankruptcy trial that could determine whether or not Frank McCourt continues as owner of the Dodgers was postponed for a month on Wednesday, opening the door to the possibility McCourt might agree to sell the team.

The Los Angeles Times reports says the reason why the trial, slated to start on Monday, Oct. 31, was delayed to Nov. 29 is because McCourt and MLB are discussing a possible settlement in which McCourt would agree to sell the team. It is not clear what McCourt will demand in return for a sale, but if he gets rid of all the properties he owns -- the team, Dodger Stadium and surrounding land, he could fetch over a billion dollars. He might need that just to break even, owing millions to creditors, his ex-wife in a divorce settlement and tax liabilities. It's possible McCourt could try to hang onto part of the team, but at this point, commissioner Bud Selig likely wants nothing to do with McCourt.

Prior to the trial, Selig said McCourt should sell a minority share, but since the trial has begun, he has wanted McCourt out. The two sides have been at war for quite some time, and there is no love lost between McCourt and Selig. It would be a major surprise if McCourt held onto the majority of the team, or even a nominal part. Selig also does not want McCourt to sell the team but keep the surrounding land and stadium.

Can't get enough of the Dodger Divorce saga and the troubles surrounding Dodgers owner Frank McCourt? Click here.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 1:03 pm
 

MLB says McCourt 'looted' $190M from Dodgers

McCourt

By Evan Brunell


In several filings by MLB on Monday, baseball has accused Dodgers owner Frank McCourt of "looting" the team for $190 million, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The exact price is $189.16 million, with $61.16 million in team revenue to pay off personal debts, $73 million sent to McCourt by way of Blue Land Co. for parking revenue, and $55 million for personal distributions. This is against baseball rules, but McCourt is no stranger to breaking rules as MLB alleges he has broken 10 rules.

"The Dodgers are in bankruptcy because McCourt has taken almost $190 million out of the club and has completely alienated the Dodgers' fan base," the filing reads. However, McCourt fired back by painting Selig as a "'furious' commissioner out to harm" McCourt, the MLB filing reads. McCourt's lawyers say that Selig is dealing in bad faith by refusing to consider any television deal for McCourt, believing that some of its funds would be diverted yet again to pay off personal obligations, such as $130 million to ex-wife Jamie in settling her contention she is co-owner of the Dodgers. (McCourt calls this claim "make-believe," but how can McCourt pay off his ex-wife without funds from the television deal?)

The beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow is expected to be a central component of the bankruptcy trial, as filings by both MLB and McCourt on Monday referenced the brutal beating on Opening Day. Stow spent the season in the hospital and was only recently released to outpatient rehab, with medical bills that could surpass $50 million. In the wake of the beating, in which no security guards intervened and fans watched, the Dodgers added LAPD officers to games and hired ex-LAPD chief William Bratton to supervise a long-range plan. Despite having a record 197 sworn police officers on hand -- "the highest number ever at a Dodgers game," the team alleges, MLB contends that security at Dodger Stadium was so inadequate, and it speaks to McCourt's failings. To no surprise, he disagrees.

"[Commissioner Bud Selig] set about fabricating the public misimpression that security at Dodger Stadium was somehow inadequate," the team's filing says, also noting that McCourt was the first Dodgers owner to hire uniformed LAPD officers. "This is, by far, the most unforgivable action taken by the commissioner during this entire saga, and has caused enorrmous and irreparable harm to the Dodgers, Mr. McCourt and the game of baseball."

The filing says the Dodgers "were on top of the situation" and that Selig only announced a task force to review Dodger Stadium security until after McCourt had taken his own steps to address the security problem at the stadium. MLB, naturally, disagrees.

"McCourt, however, omits the fact that he removed uniformed officers before the 2011 season, including the opening game when Stow was so seriously injured," MLB says in its filing, also accusing McCourt of inadequate lighting in stadium parking lots, a lack of executives with knowledge of ballpark operations and security, as well as the ability to easily slip into the stadium without authorized access.

In April, when Selig appointed the task force to look at Dodger security and also appointed a trustee to review L.A.'s policies and finances, the team says that was a crushing blow for the club, who immediately saw a downtick in attendance and finished the season 18 percent under.

"Not surprisingly, the commissioner's one-two punch ... was followed by a dramatic reduction in attendance at Dodger games," the Dodgers' filing reads. "That drop in attendance reduced revenues and, of course, worsened [the Dodgers'] already difficult liquidity situation."

One thing's clear: each side really, really dislikes the other. It's still unclear when a resolution is pending, but the filings were a major step forward in the case and will be used during a hearing next week that could determine the outcome of the case. The Dodgers are asking for a delay until April 25 to present their reorganization plan, which could leave McCourt in charge of the club through the beginning of the 2012 season.

Can't get enough of the Dodger Divorce saga and the troubles surrounding Dodgers owner Frank McCourt? Click here.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 11:11 am
 

Dodgers owner McCourt settles with ex-wife Jamie

McCourtBy Evan Brunell

The Los Angeles Times reports that Frank McCourt has reached an agreement with ex-wife Jamie to assume full control of the Dodgers.

Jamie is expected to receive $130 million in exchange for dropping her contention that she is co-owner of the Dodgers. This would be a major step toward Frank retaining the team in its bankruptcy battle with MLB, as Jamie's absence from the proceedings would clear the way for Frank to sell the television rights to the club, using the revenue to fund the team. He would have been unable to keep the team unless he beat both his ex-wife and baseball. Removing Jamie from the equation simplifies matters greatly.

The settlement will position Frank McCourt to engage in a head-on battle with commissioner Bud Selig to keep the team. McCourt still has a ways to go in the proceedings, however. For one, he will have to be able to use revenue from any television deal struck to complete his divorce settlement, which Selig originally rejected, setting up the path of events to come. Selig and Fox Sports do not want McCourt to be able to auction off TV rights, which McCourt is asking the court to allow so he can raise money.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: September 28, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Fox Sports sues Dodgers over rights to TV deal

McCourt
By Evan Brunell

Fox Sports has sued Dodgers owner Frank McCourt over the television rights sale that is currently pending between the two parties, the Los Angeles Times writes.

This television deal has been at the heart of the crisis with the Dodgers. McCourt is trying to hold onto ownership of the Dodgers after using it as his personal piggy bank during his marriage, and then seeing all his finances fall into disrepair thanks to a high-profile divorce. Baseball has been trying to force McCourt out of Los Angeles because of his shoddy financial planning, but McCourt refuses to do so. At the heart of the issue is a deal McCourt negotiated with Fox that would give the Dodgers the funds to survive. However, MLB and commissioner Bud Selig refuse to approve the deal because McCourt has already had his chance, plus part of the proceeds from the new TV deal would go toward paying off McCourt's divorce, not to the team.

The suit asks the judge to reject any sale of the Dodgers that does not meet the guidelines of the current TV contract, which gives Fox exclusive negotiating rights through Nov. 2012 as well as being able to match any offer. McCourt has proposed an auction process for television rights that do not abide by the current deal. Fox is also asking for damages, saying that the team has already violated the contract by sharing confidential broadcast rights information, even after being warned. The Dodgers, unsurprisingly, disagree.

McCourt is also trying to fend off a suit from MLB asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to order the sale of the Dodgers due to financial issues and mismanagement. L>A., in return, is asking for an extensive discovery phase in which they would be allowed to review sensitive financial documents of baseball and baseball teams in order to prove that Selig has a grudge against McCourt and the Dodgers.

"The commissioner asserts that 'Major League Baseball believes a sale of the Dodgers is necessary,' " the Dodgers' filing reads. The Dodgers "are entitled … to probe whether this view is genuine or merely a pretext ... particularly in view of the paramount policy of the bankruptcy laws of the United States to promote reorganizations and prevent liquidations.  ...

"The Dodgers are guaranteed to complete the current season with a winning record," the filing read, "and its player development system appears to have generated the leading contenders for the National League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards. It is, therefore, not self-evident that [the Dodgers are] acting in anything but in the best interests of the Dodgers or of baseball more generally."

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Posted on: September 23, 2011 5:59 pm
 

MLB wants judge to force Dodgers' sale

By Matt Snyder

The ongoing feud between Major League Baseball and embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt took a huge step forward Friday. The MLB has asked a federal bankruptcy judge to order McCourt to sell the Dodgers (LATimes.com). A hearing is set for October 12.

McCourt is hoping to come up with a big TV deal that will enable him to retain ownership of the Dodgers, but MLB commissioner Bud Selig has the power to refuse approval of any deal, and is apparently planning on exercising that power. From there, the MLB reportedly plans to strip McCourt from ownership of the Dodgers once the team is no longer in bankruptcy protection.

"Mr. McCourt cannot hide the Dodgers in bankruptcy forever," the MLB filing read (LATimes.com).

One of MLB's biggest concerns is that McCourt has no other significant source of income, so the money he makes from the Dodgers will be used to help settle his messy divorce with Jamie McCourt and this isn't acceptable to Selig and company.

In case anyone is unsure that Major League Baseball means business, check this out, via LATimes.com:
The filing also cites three other grounds for possible MLB action against McCourt, including the Dodgers' dismissal of league-appointed trustee Tom Schieffer upon filing for bankruptcy.

"No one will pay the [Dodgers] to broadcast Dodgers games if the club is not part of Major League Baseball," the filing reads. "Consequently, the [Dodgers'] path in this case is a dead end or worse."
Yes, you read that correctly. Major League Baseball is threatening to kick the Dodgers out of the league. Now, this wouldn't be contraction, it would be a suspension and it's doubtful things come to this. It's just an illustration of how far Selig's office will do to wash their hands of McCourt.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Mets might change Citi Field dimensions



By Matt Snyder


A common refrain since the Mets moved into Citi Field is that the outfield dimensions cost the team loads of home runs in each given season. Notably, it's been discussed how many homers have turned into doubles for David Wright by several different New York reporters. Only Kauffman Stadium (Royals) and AT&T Park (Giants) have been worse for home runs this season and Citi Field ranked 27th in homers last season.

Two areas in particular that have drawn malign are the height of the left-field wall (why not have it the same height as the center-field wall?) and the well in right field (where it says "Modell's"). It feels like changing those two things would make it a pretty average ballpark for hitters.

Well, changes could be on the horizon, and not-so-small changes at that.

“If we do something, it won’t be subtle,” general manager Sandy Alderson said (NYTimes.com Bats blog), noting that changes are not definite but the Mets are looking hard at several different options.

“We’re not looking necessarily to gain an advantage with respect to home runs versus visitor’s home runs,” Alderson said (NYTimes.com Bats blog). “But at the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there, as opposed to a team that comes in for three games, doesn’t really have to alter its approach or think about it too much and leaves.”

I tend to agree with him. All things equal, I'd much rather have my team playing in a league-average ballpark instead of an extreme-hitter or extreme-pitcher park. Not that it definitely determines the fate of your ballclub -- it doesn't -- but if either pitchers or hitters collectively believe they're getting screwed for 81 games, it's hard to keep a positive mentality for the whole season.

'Fan' is short for 'fanatic:' A Yankees fan had the task of serving Red Sox starting pitcher Erik Bedard with child support papers Tuesday and relished in it. He wore a Yankees shirt and bragged on Facebook that he intentionally served Bedard on a day of his start (Big League Stew). Bedard went out and gave up five hits and four runs (though only one was earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Let's hope this fan never accuses any player of lacking professionalism, or else we've got a nice case of hypocrisy working.

Lincecum endorses Kershaw: The NL Cy Young vote is going to be quite competitive, with Clayton Kershaw, Ian Kennedy and some Phillies likely garnering most of the votes. Two-time winner Tim Lincecum believes the winner should be Kershaw. “Just with the numbers he has, he’s leading in a lot of categories, to put up a 20-win season is huge, especially with the team he’s got. He’s done a magnificent job with his year," Lincecum said after losing to Kershaw again (Extra Baggs). The two aces have squared off four times. Lincecum has a 1.24 ERA in those outings, but Kershaw has won all four.

Harwell's glasses are back: In Tuesday's Pepper, we passed along the story that a statue of late, great Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell had been stripped of its glasses. Well, the replacement set of frames is back at home (Detroit Free-Press). Let's hope these stay there for a while.

Aramis' swan song: Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was traded to the Cubs in July of 2003. He played on three playoff teams, in two All-Star games and solidified a position that hadn't been locked down since Ron Santo manned the hot corner. The Cubs have a $16 million option for 2012 on Ramirez and he has repeatedly said he wants to stay, but the feeling apparently isn't mutual. When asked if he believes this is his last run with the Cubs, he replied (Chicago Tribune): "Probably. There's a good chance. I'm a free agent and I don't know what's going to happen. But it looks like I'm going to hit the market."

Movie Night! "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was a huge hit in the 80s, and it includes a scene in Wrigley Field. It's only fitting that Wrigley's first "Movie Night" will be showing the Matthew Broderick film October 1 (Chicago Tribune). Bleacher seats are $10, while lawn seats are $25. That's steep for a movie that hit theaters in 1986, but would the novelty of sitting on Wrigley Field's playing surface be worth it? You make the call.

No ERA title for Cueto: Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was already suspected to be ruled out for the season, and now he's even admitting as much (MLB.com). With the Reds out of the race, this wouldn't normally matter, but Cueto had a shot at leading the league in ERA. His 2.31 mark currently trails only Kershaw (2.27). The problem is that Cueto has only thrown 156 innings. In order to qualify for an ERA crown, a pitcher must have thrown at least one inning for each game his team has played. So once the Reds play game 157, Cueto falls off the ERA standings.

Rockies love Tracy, kind of: Rockies manager Jim Tracy is signed through 2012 and his job is safe at least through the length of the contract. "Jim is signed through next year, and we'd love to have him be manager here for much longer than that. But I have gone into the last year of my contract here more than you could imagine," general manager Dan O'Dowd told The Denver Post. So that sounds good, right? Well, depends upon the point of view. He's not offering a contract extension, and you'll notice the comment about going into the last year of a contract. So it sounds like O'Dowd likes Tracy for now, but he's giving himself a chance to change his mind by the end of next year. And he has every right to do that.

Watch those Nats: If you relish in the failures of the Nationals, you better enjoy it while you can. I've preached all season that the proverbial corner would be turned soon, with a great young base of talent and lots of money available for free agents. Speaking of which, expect the Nats to be hot after All-Star starting pitcher C.J. Wilson -- who is a free agent after this season -- this coming offseason (MLB.com via Twitter).

Saito can't get healthy: Brewers reliever Takashi Saito has been excellent this season, sporting a 1.90 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Of course, he's only thrown 23 2/3 innings due to a series of injuries. Now he's dealing with a calf injury (MLB.com).

More roadblocks for McCourt: One of the ways embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt plans to get out of his financial mess is to sell the TV rights to Dodgers games for future seasons. Well, Fox holds the Dodgers' TV rights through 2013 and has a problem with McCourt trying to negotiate a deal immediately (LATimes.com).

Johan's progress: Mets' ace Johan Santana continues to work his surgically repaired shoulder back into shape. After throwing a three-inning simulated game Saturday, he's now slated for two instructional league games (Oct. 1 and Oct. 7). (ESPN New York)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 15 years ago, Vladimir Guerrero hit his first career home run (Hardball Times). He now has 449.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 10:13 am
 

Pepper: More to the Mets' 9/11 hats story?



By Matt Snyder


One big storyline that emerged in baseball Sunday night was the Mets not being allowed to wear first responder (NYPD, FDNY, etc.) hats during the national telecast on ESPN. They did wear them in pre-game festivities -- as seen above on Ronny Paulino -- but not during the actual game, per MLB rule.

It turns out, according to a report from the New York Post Tuesday, there may be more than initially met the eye. Reportedly, commissioner Bud Selig called the Mets Sunday night and was "irate" that the team threw Major League Baseball under the proverbial bus.

"[Selig] got embarrassed by it," a Mets official said (New York Post). "The game got moved into prime time because of 9/11, and [MLB] ended up getting embarrassed."

The report also notes that Joe Torre -- who was named as the person who ordered the Mets to not wear the hats -- said there was a league-wide memo sent out but nothing specifically about the Mets, nor was the message anything "heavy-handed."

And then there's this (New York Post):
But another source said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon was "back and forth" with the commissioner's office on the matter until the proverbial 11th hour, when it was decided the Mets, on the hook for a $25 million loan from MLB, shouldn't risk the wrath of Selig.
So, if all this is true, the Mets basically forced their players to comply and let the commissioner's office take the blame in nefarious manner -- even though they didn't want to risk the wrath of Selig?

It's hard to know who to trust here. It seems like there's blame to be placed in both camps, but the bottom line is the players should have just been allowed to wear the special hats. It's a hat. Don't give me slippery slope on this. It's the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 in New York City. That's a special circumstance. Whether it's Wilpon, Selig, Torre or any combination of the three, someone dropped the ball.

"Moneyball" venom: There's a story in the LA Times about the "Moneyball" movie coming out and how polarizing it is. One telling quote is how, after winning the World Series last season, Giants executive Tony Siegle said "so much for Moneyball" in celebration. Later in the article, Siegle cops to having never read the book. And here's the crux of my criticism with those criticizing "Moneyball." The book wasn't saying A's general manager Billy Beane invented sabermetrics (he didn't) or that he was reinventing the wheel (he wasn't). It was just a story about a GM trying to find a creative way to compete with a less than competitive payroll. And he did for several years. It doesn't claim he invented on-base percentage or that he's a genius. It's a story. A good one. Maybe read the book before you complain about it. Nothing drives me more crazy than hearing something like "Moneyball doesn't work." Moneyball is a book -- and now a movie -- not a strategy.

More McCourt hate? Click here and check out the picture. Notice the MLB produced a poster talking about a special promotion where all the teams are giving money to Stand Up To Cancer. Also note the asterisk and specific mention the Dodgers aren't giving to the charity. The Sons of Steve Garvey notes that the Dodgers are giving proceeds to their own cancer charity (ThinkCure) and this could just be another way of Selig's office to sleight McCourt's administration.

More Rays' financial woes: It's no secret the Rays have money troubles, despite a stellar on-field product for the past handful of seasons. Payroll was cut after last season and several guys who had previously been key pieces were either traded or walked via free agency. Still, things are tighter than ever. " ... we’ve clearly fallen short on our financial projections," principle owner Stuart Sternburg said (TampaBay.com). "We have to make some projections but I could not have projected our attendance would be down what it was. I don't think anybody would have thought that either. ... Nothing positive happened financially this year. We were last (in attendance going into the weekend). I hadn't even realized that. I didn't forecast last."

Berkman's leverage: Outfielder Lance Berkman has enjoyed a career renaissance with the Cardinals this season and reports have indicated he wants to stay put. In fact, several reports from the St. Louis area said the Cardinals didn't trade Berkman when he cleared waivers in the last week of August because they feared that would prevent them from retaining him. So it seemed like a pretty sure thing he'd stay put. Not so fast, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says it might not be a sure thing and that Berkman has leverage. Remember also, the Cardinals' payroll is going to be tight if they retain free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols.

'Man in White' travels to Minnesota? One of my favorite storylines of the season has been mocking those who really believe Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays are aided by a rogue sign stealer in Toronto. So, of course, since that story broke I make it a point to pass along whenever the Jays either don't hit well at home or explode on the road. And check this one out, courtesy of The Hardball Times: Bautista has seven career home runs in 34 plate appearances in Minnesota's Target Field. Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Ben Revere, Nick Punto and Tsuyoshi Nishioka have combined for 1,683 plate appearances in the Twins' new home. And they've combined for six home runs. Amazing. At his pace in that number of plate appearances, Bautista would hit 347 home runs.

Rangers staying in house: Some rumors have indicated the Rangers might be in on the Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder sweepstakes, but instead the Rangers are reportedly going to stick with Mitch Moreland at first base (MLB.com). It makes at least some sense. They'd be better served shoring up pitching -- All-Star starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is a free agent, too -- than worrying about beefing up an already potent offense. Plus, Moreland is only 26, really cheap and under team control for a while. If he further develops his power stroke (16 home runs and 21 doubles this year), he'll end up being a bargain.

No safety helmets for Philly: Despite second baseman Chase Utley suffering a concussion from being hit in the helmet by a pitch, the Phillies players are still declining to use a new, safer helmet model (Philly.com).

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Report: McCourt offered $1.2 billion for Dodgers

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Frank McCourt has been offered a record $1.2 billion for the Dodgers, the Los Angeles TImes' Bill Shaikin reports.

The bid is led by Los Angeles Maranthon founder Bill Burke and is also funded in part by Chinese investors. Burke would not comment when reached by Shaikin. Steve Surgerman, a McCourt spokesman, also declined comment.

The bid from Burke's group would be an all-cash deal for the team, all its real estate and the team's media rights. McCourt, reportedly, has hoped to keep Dodger Stadium and its parking lots if the team is sold.

According to the letter obtained by the Times, the offer expires in 21 days and would hope to close the deal within 90 days and be subject to approval from both the bankruptcy court and Major League Baseball.

Some of the money would come from "certain state-owned investment institutions of the People's Republic of China," in addition to other investors.

Two years ago the Rickettts family bought the Chicago Cubs for $845 million from the Tribune Company, setting a record for the highest price tag on a big league team.

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