It’s not about the divorce, Frank, it’s how you ran the club
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There is no one on this planet you would wish divorce upon, and regardless of what you may think of them as owners, that includes Frank and Jamie McCourt.
As Frank made clear Wednesday in his amazing New York press conference, no matter the circumstances, it is a painful ordeal for all involved. And as he said, no doubt his was made even more so because it was so nakedly public.
Still, several times McCourt acted Wednesday as if all the troubles that have befallen him with Major League Baseball were because of his divorce.
Said McCourt on his un-American comment: ‘What I said was un-American was somebody’s property being seized unlawfully. There are core values in this country and fairness is one of them. Transparency is another. Private property is another. Thankfully, in this country it is not appropriate for one person’s property to be seized by somebody else just because they got divorced or just because of some arbitrary reasons.’
On MLB not accepting his Fox deal: ‘I made the point very forcefully to them that although the divorce is unfortunate, it is no reason to turn down this transaction.’
On his meeting with MLB executives: ‘Some of the comments that were made today, not by (Commissioner Bud Selig) but by others, would indicate a level of frustration with my divorce and the public nature of the divorce.’
Except for MLB’s clear and appropriate concern with how he will pay off Jamie when they finally reach a divorce settlement, this is pure nonsense.
The divorce is not the cause of MLB’s concern with McCourt, it only brought to light how badly he has run the Dodgers. This is why he had the franchise placed under baseball’s control:
-- He reportedly siphoned off $108 million from the Dodgers for his and Jamie’s personal use. Anyway, that’s as much as we know about.
-- He used this to fund an extravagant lifestyle that included seven mansions, a private jet and weekly $150 haircuts.
-- He planned to cut payroll while anticipating that club revenue would go from $295 million in 2008 to $529 million by 2018.
-- He paid two of his sons $600,000 per year to work for the Dodgers, while one was at Stanford and the other worked at Goldman Sachs.
-- He used legal loopholes to avoid paying any federal or state income taxes for six consecutive years.
-- The Dodgers paid over six figures to a Russian psychic to send positive energy to the Dodgers from Boston.
-- The team charity, the Dodgers Dream Foundation, paid director Howard Sunkin over one-fourth of its annual budget in 2007 and is now under investigation by the state attorney general’s office; recently the Dodgers repaid the $400,000 to the charity. -- He went four months without a Dodger Stadium security chief and then reacted slowly, and only after media and political pressure, when a Giants fan was seriously beaten in the parking lot on opening day.
-- The team has gone at least $433 million in debt.
Meanwhile, he’s raised prices on everything and still runs out of money. He went around baseball to take a $30-million personal loan from Foxto make payroll this month. And attendance is plummeting, as many fans have given up supporting McCourt.
Why would Selig approve this Fox deal for someone who has such a horrid history of running one of the greatest franchises in sport into an abysmal state?
And whether McCourt is willing to sign something saying he wouldn’t use any of the new Fox money to pay off his wife, that money has to come from somewhere. As of this moment, Jamie is entitled to half the team’s assets.
Maybe divorce did change Frank; hope it did. But his personal history remains evidence to how he manages a ballclub.
And that very much justifies baseball’s actions.
-- Steve Dilbeck