Selig on Dodgers: ‘The outcome is not predetermined’
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Commissioner Bud Selig met with reporters Thursday in New York at the conclusion of baseball’s quarterly owners’ meeting. Selig met on Wednesday with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who said he had impressed upon Selig the urgency in approving the team’s proposed long-term television contract with Fox, which would provide the funding McCourt now lacks to meet the May 31 payroll.
“I just emphasized the importance of timing,” McCourt said.
McCourt would not say whether he still believed the outcome of baseball’s investigation into the Dodgers’ finances was “predetermined,” as he alleged two weeks ago.
Questions and answers about the Dodgers from Selig’s news conference:
Q: Could you describe your meeting with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt?
A: No. We did meet. That’s all I have to say at this point.
Q: What is your level of confidence McCourt can meet payroll this month?
A: I don’t have any comment on that.
Q: Are you concerned about the amount of complaining the Dodgers have had with regard to the role of [trustee Tom] Schieffer?
A: No. I’m not in the least concerned. We’re doing this very thoughtfully, very sensitively, with a lot of planning. I’m very comfortable with where we are. I gave up worrying about owners complaining about 18 years ago. We have done this with a lot of thought, very carefully, painstaking even in the selection of Tom Schieffer, who I have great faith in. Let’s just say we’re very comfortable with where we are.
Q: How do you respond to McCourt saying the outcome is “predetermined?”
A: Number one, the outcome is not predetermined. When I talked to Tom Schieffer and offered him the position, I just told him to go out there. He’s got a lot of baseball experience. He and I were in the business a long time together. I have great faith in his ability. Nothing has been predetermined. That’s why he is there, to monitor things [on a day-to-day basis]. And that is why Proskauer, our law firm, is doing a lot of other work [on the MLB investigation into the Dodgers’ finances]. We wouldn’t have to go through all this if it was predetermined. I’m doing it because I think it is the right thing to do. There are a lot of facts that develop. You can’t develop facts ... without doing this. So it has not been predetermined. People can say whatever they want. I will anxiously await the reports from both parties, Proskauer and the monitor. Certainly, the reports will be very important.
Q: When do you anticipate the reports coming in?
A: I do not know. It’s hard to set. There’s no way I can say you have to be done in seven days or six days or three days. I don’t know.
Q: But the Dodgers’ point is that you could take as long as you need to get the reports, but they could run out of money in the meantime.
A: Look, everybody has moved in as expeditious a manner as possible. They’ll continue to do that, but I can’t set a timeline.
Q: Is there a chance that, when all is said and done, that you would approve the Fox contract and McCourt would remain as the Dodgers’ owner?
A: I’m not going to get into that until I have the reports. We have both a monitoring and an investigative approach to this. When I have all the information, I will make decisions.
Q: Would you consider approving -- or would you have to approve -- another loan should McCourt be able to get one?
A: That’s just speculation. The only thing I will say is that this sport has very definitive rules. It is my job to make sure those rules are being enforced. End of discussion.
Q: Are the Dodgers in compliance with baseball’s debt service rules?
A: There will be a time, but I’m not going to get into that today.
Q: Can you share what other owners said about the Dodgers situation?
Q: Steve Garvey has said he has a group that wants to buy the Dodgers. Could you comment on that?
A: I know he has. I talked to Steve Garvey a long time ago. We’re not there yet. We’re not ready. The club isn’t for sale. I know he has announced that, and there are a lot of other people in L.A. who apparently have expressed interest, but we’re not ready to discuss that. That is premature, to say the least.
Q: Even if you don’t have a date when you expect the reports, when would you like to see them?
A: As expeditiously as possible. I’m all for that too. Tom Schieffer has been very aggressive. The Proskauer firm that is doing the investigation has been extremely conscientious. We’re moving as fast as we can. To use one of my favorite teams, nobody is using the Dean Smith four-corner offense.
Q: Are you prepared to say the contracts of the Dodgers players will not be defaulted upon?
A: I really don’t want to engage in all those things today. I talk to Tom Schieffer about four times a day. ... There will be a time for all that. I’m not going to engage in that kind of speculation.
Q: Will you hire another monitor to assist Schieffer?
A: Possibly, yes.
Q: Are you disappointed Dick Freeman did not disclose his work for Jamie McCourt? [Freeman was the assistant monitor hired Monday morning and let go Monday afternoon after MLB learned he had consulted for Frank McCourt’s ex-wife in their divorce case.]
A: Yeah. I’ve had a long relationship with Dick Freeman, as Tom has. He is a really competent executive. He’s done great work wherever he’s been. He’s very good in this area. I don’t know. Sometimes, things happen. He was perfect for the job. We’ll find somebody else.
Just to close this part of it out, we are not dragging our feet at all. It’s in no one’s best interest, certainly ours.
[Selig also made an indirect reference to McCourt, who has declined to sell any share of the Dodgers, in answering a question about the New York Mets. “The Mets are doing what, when you have a problem, you have to do,” Selig said. “They’re selling part of their team and putting equity into the team.”]
-- Bill Shaikin in New York