Monday, June 20, 2011

The Savior, Commissioner Selig

Today, Commissioner Bud Selig struck down a deal that would reportedly pay the Dodgers and owner Frank McCourt between 1.7 billion and 3 billion dollars. This cash-infusion would get McCourt $385 million up-front, which would be more than enough to get him through this year's personnel payments. McCourt's ability or inability to pay his players on a bi-monthly basis had become a source of hope for the Dodgers' disenchanted fanbase, hoping that perhaps this would be the week that McCourt would have to sell the team for lack of funds.

Selig rejected the TV deal under the pretenses that it not only represented below-market value for the Dodgers (thus setting a below-market precedent for other teams and their television deals going forward), but he also felt that the proceeds from the deal would be used to settle McCourt's divorce, rather than improving the team. As any Dodger fan who has sat in the incredibly outdated outfield bleachers can tell you, there couldn't be a more true statement.

As LA Times writer Bill Shaikin so expertly pointed out last week, this ruling essentially means that Major League Baseball would be able to seize the team at month's end. At that point, most people expect McCourt to sue Selig and Major League Baseball, on the grounds that he is being discriminated against for his financial situation unfairly, despite many of the problemss being similar to the ones that the Wilpon Family and the Mets are facing. Selig and MLB would ask that the suit get thrown out, as McCourt (like every other owner in the League) signs an agreement giving the Commissioner broad powers in anything related to "preserving the best interests of the game", prior to buying the team.

As I stated in my post last month, the key words here are "best interests of the game". A team under the stewardship of Frank McCourt does not serve the best interests of the Dodgers, their fans or the game itself. His irresponsibility has gone on for far too long, and has cost the Dodgers not only future success, but perhaps also prevented past greatness.

The most prevailing thought that comes to my mind is this; if you are Frank McCourt and the Commissioner of Baseball, elected as a representative of the league by all 30 owners, says on their behalf that they do not believe that you have the best interests of the game in mind, why would you want to stay? From that, wouldn't you interpret that your peers, your co-workers for all intents and purposes, want you gone as well? Take that into account for a second. Essentially what the Commissioner is doing here is using his broad powers to force a man to sell his property, company and in Frank's case, his livelihood. If the Commissioner can do this to McCourt, it sets a precedent that under these same circumstances, anyone's team can be sold.

So even with the threat of a set precedent for Selig to take away their teams from them, I haven't heard a single word of dissention from any of the 29 other teams. Now, you could say that these are extraordinary circumstances, but seriously - a rich guy's wife cheats on him with her driver/pool boy/gardner followed by messy divorce? Is that never going to happen again? Hurm. To me, it seems like no one will mind if this guy finds a nice two-story home in Newton and never gets heard from ever again.

So if you're Frank McCourt and everyone wants you gone - your co-workers, your boss, your customers - why would you want to stay around? Because it's your property and "no one is taking that away from you?" How could you dig yourself out of that hole? Why would you want to, more importantly? Even with all your million of dollars of investment (which, you'll get back by the way, and then some, in the proceeds from the sale of the team. Or maybe half of that, depending on how Judge Gordon rules your divorce settlement), why would you want to put up with all the scrutiny and hatred that the entire fanbase of the Los Angeles Dodgers will continue to hoist upon you? You have a family to keep together Frank. You have sons to take care of and a divorce to settle. The Dodgers, their fans and Major League Baseball shouldn't be your first priority right now. You've done quite enough. Leave now, before you disgrace yourself, your family and this "team you love so much" any further.

Thank you Commissioner. And rejoice Dodger fans - salvation is coming. We're almost through the worst.

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