The Dodgers Mess
The ongoing and very public battle over control of the once-proud LA Dodgers franchise is utterly disgusting, yet its ultimate outcome could provide the utmost in irony and comeuppances.
In one corner you have the epitome of shameless arrogance, the sort that seems to go hand-in-hand with new wealth and the perception of power.
In the other corner, opposing Commissioner Selig in this sordid mess, are the current owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Seldom has anyone ever been so aptly named as the litigious Mr. McCourt, as he seems as drawn to the inside of a courtroom as a moth to a flame, as evidenced by the lengthy divorce trial, as yet unsettled, he and Jamie endured last year. The disclosure in open court of their ham-handed efforts to loot the team coffers for their own personal lavishing left all who could stand to follow the details holding their noses in disgust.
Simply put, the McCourts have trashed one of the great franchises in all of sports and caused scorn and ridicule to be heaped upon themselves in the process.
This week, with a massive payroll staring them in the face June 30, the team filed for Bankruptcy.
There’s not much to like about the McCourts --- but given the combatants in this matter, I like them a lot more than I do the Commissioner.
Selig has backed McCourt into the financial corner by using his office like a bully pulpit, vetoing a perfectly legitimate TV rights contract with Fox that would have resolved Frank McCourt’s financial woes (not the least of which includes paying off his soon-to-be ex-wife as part of their divorce settlement) and interfering with McCourt’s ability to run his business, his personal property.
Selig will point to Baseball’s long-standing tradition of allowing the Commissioner to act ‘in the best interests of the Game’, as well as the fact that McCourt, like all owners, signed a contract when he took ownership, which forbade him from suing the Commish, as a defense for his actions against McCourt.
McCourt will argue (man, will he ever !) that Selig is acting arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the Fox TV deal to go through, and that the mere act of signing away his right to sue, in order to be named an owner, is hardly a legal agreement.
Selig believes his power is absolute, and that he is above the law.
It will be interesting to see if The Law agrees with him.
One thing is certain.
While this whole thing gets dragged through the mud during the months and years to come, the likes of Judge Landis, Bart Giamatti, Walter O’Malley and Jackie Robinson are apt to be spinning in their graves.
There’s no question about it.