SBD/July 11, 2011/Franchises

Dodgers Fire Steve Garvey As Former Player Continues To Eye Purchase Of Club

Garvey had been part of the Dodgers organization for 30 years

Former MLBer Steve Garvey Friday confirmed that the Dodgers have fired him “from their marketing and community relations departments,” according to Tony Jackson of ESPN L.A. The decision “appears to be a reaction to Garvey having made public his desire to be a part of a group that would purchase the club if owner Frank McCourt, who has filed for bankruptcy, is ultimately forced to sell the Dodgers.” Garvey said in an e-mail Friday, “I was always clear with management as to the exploratory ownership group I’ve put together. In fact, I twice offered a significant cash infusion to help the team.” Garvey on Saturday “was still unsure about what prompted the firing.” Dodgers VP/Communications Josh Rawitch “declined to address the matter,” saying that Dodgers policy “is to not comment on personnel matters” (ESPNLA.com, 7/9). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez noted this was Garvey’s “30th year with the organization and 15th in its front office.” When asked if it was time for McCourt to “let go of the team,” Garvey responded, “Under the circumstances, obviously it is.” He acknowledged that it "was awkward for him to draw paychecks from McCourt while speaking publicly about a future without him." Garvey said that he met in January with several Dodgers officials "to set parameters about what he could say publicly." He said that he "was instructed to point out the Dodgers weren't for sale and to not disparage McCourt when speaking about his prospective ownership group." Garvey: "I think I stayed within those parameters" (L.A. TIMES, 7/9).

TROUBLE IN THE CLUBHOUSE? SI.com’s Jon Heyman noted Dodgers players “generally deny that the team’s ongoing financial troubles (a.k.a. the McCourt mess) are affecting them,” but sources said that RF Andre Ethier is “unhappy with what’s going on" with the team. The sources said that Ethier is “more dismayed by the financial and on-field troubles than he has publicly admitted.” Sources added that “morale generally is at an alltime low among the team’s employees, so it isn’t surprising if those feelings have seeped into the clubhouse.” A team source said, “It’s been a tough deal. People wish everything would just get over with, one way or the other” (SI.com, 7/8).

RALLY FOR A CAUSE: In L.A., Jim Peltz reported a protest of the team’s ownership “drew a relatively small but boisterous crowd Saturday in front of Dodger Stadium.” About 75 to 100 people “took part in a ‘Save the Dodgers’ rally to protest” McCourt’s continued ownership of the team. The protesters, “most of whom wore Dodgers jerseys, T-shirts and caps,” gathered near a stadium entrance about an hour before the Dodgers game against the Padres (L.A. TIMES, 7/10). ESPN L.A.’s Jon Weisman noted, “As galvanized as the boycotters were by their protest, they might have been even more heartened by what was happening inside the stadium.” The Dodgers' “season-long attendance decline, amped by a national TV broadcast of a game originally scheduled for the evening, led to swaths of empty seats for the first pitch, at a level that even the cliche of late-arriving Dodger fans couldn’t explain” (ESPNLA.com, 7/9)

FROM THE BENCH: Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware Friday said five anti-Frank McCourt fan letters entered into the Dodgers bankruptcy case docket last week will be removed, and no new ones will be accepted. The fans have no legal standing in the case, and Gross in his ruling made it clear he has received the fans' message of frustration toward McCourt. "The Court well understands the right and motivation of fans to express their concerns for the baseball team they love, and the Court respects their passion," Gross wrote. "Nonetheless, it is not proper for the Court to docket fans' letters." Meanwhile, MLB Friday moved to compel discovery from HighBridge Capital Management regarding its proposal of interim Dodgers financing that is preferred by the club. HighBridge contends it is only a third party, and says deposing company executives would be duplicative to depositions from the Dodgers. But MLB told the court Friday that deposing HighBridge "is all the more critical now (that) the (Dodgers) have indicated they do not intend to make Mr. McCourt available for a deposition in connection with their (debtor-in-possession financing) motion." McCourt had been scheduled for deposition on Wednesday. HighBridge, in its own letter to Gross Friday, countered MLB's discovery request is "burdensome and unnecessary," and would require the disclosure of "commercially sensitive and confidential information." Gross is scheduled to hold a July 20 hearing in Wilmington, Del., on the rival interim financing proposals for the Dodgers from HighBridge and MLB (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

LIFE IMITATES ART: The season debut of HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm” last night featured a storyline where cast member Larry David is divorcing his wife, played by Cheryl Hines. In one scene, David is having lunch with some friends and he runs into Dodgers Owner Joe O’Donnell, played by actor Gary Cole, and his female companion. David and O’Donnell have the same divorce attorney and when David asks how his divorce is going, O’Donnell said, “It’s complicated to say the least. The team’s an asset and it’s a little precarious right now. I think it’ll come through for us, though. I’m pretty confident about that.” David replied, “Yeah, he’s good.” O’Donnell then asks David, “Would you be interested in coming out, sitting in a box with me? We can commiserate, discuss why the hell we got married in the first place.” David said, “I’d be interested, yes.” Later in the episode, David realizes their attorney is not Jewish but Swedish and they both dump him for another attorney. But the new attorney is not a very good one and O’Donnell loses the Dodgers in the divorce, punching David in the face when they meet at an elevator at the lawyer’s office (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO, 7/10).

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