SBD/June 28, 2011/Franchises

Bankruptcy Filing Changes MLB's Plans Regarding Future Of The Dodgers Franchise

McCourt (r) cited MLB's rejection of proposed TV deal in bankruptcy filing

The end of Frank McCourt's tenure as Dodgers owner is not as near "as it was before" he filed for bankruptcy yesterday, as a "lot of people thought Thursday was going to be the end game" if reports were accurate that he would be unable to make the team's payroll, according to MLB Network's Tom Verducci. MLB was "expecting he would do something like this." Verducci: "But the thinking was that if he didn’t get money before Thursday, then that was it and baseball would go in and seize. Obviously now that’s been postponed, you’re probably looking at a much longer court case, or now in the hands of lawyers for quite some time, rather than getting an end on Thursday” ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 6/27). CNBC's Darren Rovell said, "If it goes into bankruptcy, as it has, (MLB) doesn’t have the same amount of control as they had before” (“Street Signs,” CNBC, 6/27). ESPN's Jim Rome said McCourt is "not backing down." Rome: "Never mind that nobody here wants him around, never mind that this whole town is freaking out right now over what he’s done to that team.” Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy: "He’s going to try to tie Bud (Selig) up so they can’t force him to sell the team. This is going to be a big war over whether Bud can make them sell the team" (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 6/27). CSNBayArea.com’s Ray Ratto said McCourt is “turning the Dodgers into a poison pill so that it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to get him out." Ratto: "This is him basically tightening as many screws as he can to get as much money out of it as he can before he’s thrown out, because you know he’s going to get thrown out” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 6/27).

NOT ACCEPTING BLAME HIMSELF: SPORTING NEWS' Anthony Witrado notes McCourt blames Selig "for this latest and most hideous blemish," but among "several things wrong with that statement is that McCourt assumes absolutely zero responsibility for the team's rapid decline." McCourt "conveniently ignores the hand he had in this debacle, a hand that helped purchase posh homes, paid for thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of haircuts and extended a six-figure salary for a spiritual healer to send 'positive energy' to the team through his TV set as he watched games." For the Dodgers, yesterday's bankruptcy filing was the "most embarrassing moment in a season loaded with them." Witrado: "A change in ownership is clearly necessary. There's no way around that. ... No matter who gets control of the Dodgers, it would be almost impossible for them to be any worse than McCourt" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 6/28). ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne wrote, "The Dodgers aren't bankrupt; Frank McCourt is. The Dodgers are a profitable franchise." More importantly, the Dodgers "are bigger than Frank McCourt." They are a "brand built by decades of great players, managers, executives and owners," a team "with a storied history, having created memories a judge can never divide up." Shelburne: "I've never been able to figure out whether McCourt just doesn't get that or whether he does and simply doesn't care" (ESPNLA.com, 6/27). In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes, "The Dodgers are not broke. The Dodgers are bigger than broke" (L.A. TIMES, 6/28).

KIND OF BLUE: The bankruptcy filing has drawn plenty of reaction throughout the sports world and beyond. Shaughnessy wrote for SI.com under the header, "McCourt's Ownership Of Dodgers Was A Disaster From The Start." In his seven years owning the team, McCourt "turned the Dodgers into a major league joke" (SI.com, 6/27). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes, "In a moment that ranks among the most embarrassing in the history of Major League Baseball, the destitute, defaulting, defrauded Dodgers have gone into disaster mode" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/28). ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote, "The thought of this team ... in bankruptcy court was once an unthinkable embarrassment. But we're long past that stage. Now this twist in the plot line fits right into the pitiful descent of the franchise in the Frank McCourt era" (ESPN.com, 6/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman writes, "The Chapter 11 filing is a dark moment for one of baseball's most important franchises" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/28). In N.Y., Mark DeCambre: "The Chapter 11 move tarnishes the image of one of the most valuable sports franchises" (N.Y. POST, 6/28). CBS News' Scott Pelley said, "This was a humiliating day for one of the proudest franchises in sports” ("Evening News," CBS, 6/27). NBC News' Brian Williams said the bankruptcy filing is a “sad note in the world of sports” and is “just the latest awful chapter for the Dodgers” (“Nightly News,” NBC, 6/27). CNBC’s Sue Herera: “It was a dark day for one of baseball’s most storied franchises” (“Closing Bell With Maria Bartiromo,” CNBC, 6/27). ESPN MLB analyst and former Dodgers P Orel Hershiser said, "It's very hard to watch, not only for Dodgers fans but also for all of Major League Baseball. When you see MLB have to go in and help them out and kind of steer the organization, that's something you never would have thought of seeing when, say, the O'Malleys owned the team. Or when Fox owned the team. It's sad, that's for sure" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/27).

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