April 16, 2014

Selig Says No; McCourt Out of Options?

So, as expected, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig ruled that Frank McCourt’s new broadcasting deal with FOX (rumored to be worth an estimated $3 billion) was not in the best interests of the Dodgers, nor their fans.

“As I have said before, we owe it to the legion of loyal Dodger fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future,” Selig said. “This transaction would not accomplish these goals.”

Ouch.  Apparently part of the problem was the big up front payment (about $325 million) and the fact that the McCourts would need some of the funds for financial responsibilities outside of the Dodgers.  Given some of the revelations that came out of the divorce proceedings, that was not ok with the Commish.

So now what?  Given the litigious history of Frank McCourt, I don’t expect he’ll back down without a fight, and the following statement from Steve Susman on behalf of Frank McCourt backs that up.

“Commissioner Selig’s letter of rejection is not only a disappointment, but worse, is potentially destructive to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Major League Baseball.  Accordingly, we plan to explore vigorously our options and remedies with respect to Commissioner Selig’s rejection of the proposed FOX transaction and our commitment to protect the long-term best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers.” 

Yikes.  Strong words, but maybe, just maybe, Frank will see that Selig is intent on seizing the team if he can’t make the rumored June 30th payroll  and his back is legitimately against the wall.  Maybe, just maybe, he’ll be open to a settlement.  Either way, it’s the beginning of another chapter for Dodger fans that just want solid ownership with the necessary financial bankroll to fund a winning team, year after year.

In the meantime, thank God for Clayton Kershaw in keeping Dodger fans’ minds where they ought to be: on the field, watching a brilliant two-hit shutout.

Closing Arguments in McCourt Divorce Trial Today

Today is the day when attorneys for both Frank and Jamie will deliver closing arguments in the McCourt divorce trial.  As we all know, at stake is the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I really wanted to be in court today, but unfortunately real life got in the way.  But in the age of Twitter, I can get my courtroom fix by following Josh Fisher of Dodger Divorce and Molly Knight of ESPN, The Magazine on Twitter.  Check them out for all the latest news, updates and opinions.

After today, the judge will have up to 90 days to review the arguments of each side and deliver his decision.  It will be  very, very interesting to see how all of this plays out!

The McCourt Divorce: Up Close and Personal

As noted yesterday, today I ventured downtown to check out the McCourt divorce trial for myself.  Monday was supposed to be the “big day” with the cross-examination of Jamie McCourt being the centerpiece of the activities, and I would have to say that it lived up to my expectations.

Today’s proceedings began with David Boies finishing up his questioning of his client, Jamie McCourt, and  the remainder of the day was spent on the cross-examination of Jamie by one of Frank’s attorneys, Steve Susman.  Like most court proceedings, the testimony was at some times fascinating and at other times completely boring.

I’ll leave it to the guys that cover the trial on a daily basis (Josh Fisher and Bill Shaikin) to provide all the specifics of what happened and who did well, as I’m conscious that my opinions of what happened are skewed by the fact that a.) I’m not a lawyer and b.) this was my only day in court (so far).  That said, I did want to note a few nuggets that I found interesting:

- Jamie never read the Marital Property Agreement (also known as the MPA), nor the cover letter.  “I may have skimmed it, but I did not read it,” said Jamie.  “I trusted Larry (Silverstein, the attorney for both her and Frank).  I trusted Frank.”

- Jamie asserted that the McCourts discussed selling the team if things didn’t financially turn around within just a few years.

- The McCourts were focused on providing long-term security for their family, which was valued at $15 million per year, and wanted to set aside $250 million in the bank (Jamie thought this figure came from her business manager), but this never ended up happening.

- Jamie wrote notes on index cards every night, highlighting the day’s activities (the examples shown in court seemed to focus on social events, who attended various dinners, etc.).

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day for me was Jamie stating numerous times throughout the afternoon that she did not understand or comprehend various passages in the MPA and the corresponding cover letter.  She either genuinely does not know the legal terms that were reviewed by Steve Susman in court or this is all trial strategy, but I for one find it hard to believe that a woman as accomplished as she is could not understand the MPA.  Remember, Jamie was an attorney for 30 years (including several years working in the family law arena), earned a B.S. in French from Georgetown, a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, an MBA from MIT and was a visiting professor at the UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.  Jamie’s a smart cookie, right?  After all, I could easily follow along as Susman broke down parts of the MPA, and all I have is a BA in English/Professional Writing from a fantastic liberal arts university.

Besides the trial itself, it was very entertaining to watch the activities that took place in the hallway during breaks.  It’s here that journalists and attorneys mingle, share small talk and sometimes discuss the day’s testimony.  I also found it fascinating to watch the shifting body language of both Frank and Jamie as they entered and left court and huddled with their attorneys in the hallway.  Finally, it was great to finally meet both Molly Knight of ESPN, The Magazine and Josh Fisher of Dodger Divorce.  I really respect their writing on the trial, and it was fun to see them in action.  Also in attendance were Bill Shaikin and T.J. Simers from the Los Angeles Times, as well as several other writers that I did not have a chance to meet.

I’m going to try and get back to court tomorrow morning, so look for another court update by late-afternoon.  At the very least I’ll be blogging from the game tomorrow night, so check back in the evening for pre-game quotes from Joe about the Padres series and his remaining games in Dodger Blue.

We’re Going to Court!

Well curiosity has gotten the best of me, and as a result, I’m going to LA Superior Court tomorrow morning (Monday) to check out the McCourt divorce proceedings which are resuming after a two-week break.  I’ll be there all morning, and possibly all day.

I’ll be reporting on the general goings on, as well as the overall experience of what is sure to be somewhat of a circus.  Jamie McCourt will be on the stand for at least the majority of the day, so things should get interesting pretty quickly.

Follow me on twitter (@dodgerfan_net) for blow by blow coverage of what life at the trial is like, and shoot me any questions that you may have and I’ll try and get them answered for you!

Photo Credit: City Club of Portland

Will MLB Enter the McCourt Divorce Fight?

Lots of great writing from around the web over the past few days.  Unfortunately most of this news isn’t all that positive, but that’s the way it goes some years, right?

- I’m a little late in getting to this, but Bill Shaikin had a thought-provoking look at the on the McCourt divorce saga in yesterday’s LA Times.  Very interesting to see that Commissioner Bud Selig is closely monitoring the situation, but not getting involved at this point.  Also interesting to see the list of potential buyers should the Dodgers come up for sale (my money is on Dennis Gilbert, but that’s just a hunch).

- Ross Newhan has a great story on his blog, looking back at the reporting that was done by him and former LA Times Dodgers’ beat writer Jason Reid on the McCourt’s financial situation when they purchased the team, and what their plans were for the future.

- Tony Jackson from ESPN Los Angeles recaps Clayton Kershaw’s brilliant complete game shutout against the hated San Francisco Giants.  One of the true highlights of the second half of the season.

- Ken Gurnick at MLB.com looks back at the life of Al LaMacchia, the longtime scout for the Dodgers and the man who is credited with Andre Ethier being in Dodger Blue.  Al passed away yesterday at the age of 89.  Old-time scouts are sadly a dying breed, and from all accounts, Al was a suberb baseball man.  Former Dodgers’ GM Fred Claire also wrote a great story on Al and the Ethier deal a few years ago.  Check it out…it’s one that I’ve always loved.

- Answer Dave over at Big League Stew has a rare Q&A with Vin Scully, where he discusses his love for Jolly Ranchers,  his thoughts on Elizabeth Montgomery (from “Bewitched”) and what the Seventh Inning Stretch means to him.  Terrific stuff.

- Jon Weisman gets a jump start on the 2010-2011 offseason and lays out the questions (and they’re big ones) that Ned Colletti & Co. face in the months leading up to Spring Training.  Yikes.

- There’s a lot more going on in Dodgerland, including Asst. GMs Logan White and DeJon Watson interviewing for the open General Manager position with the Diamondbacks.  Neither are rumored to be the current favorities, but the fine folks over at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness brought up a good point: what if Logan or DeJon gets the job and takes the other with him?  What if they take Kim Ng?  Losing one would would be really tough.  Losing more than one would truly be tragic.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images