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Dodgers' eyes of spring are locked on divorce court

February 19, 2010 | 10:06 am
Frank And the cry goes out to the divorce gods … please tell us what it all means.

Besides, it can’t be good.

Not good for Frank and Jamie McCourt, certainly. Not good for the 2010 Dodgers, apparently. And of most concern, not good for the future of the Dodgers.

As Bill Shaikin reports Friday in the Los Angeles Times, the pending divorce between the McCourts continues to grow more ominous, Jamie now doubling her request for temporary monthly support payments to $988,845.

That’s almost $12 million a year, or about what it would have cost the Dodgers if they’d taken right-hander Randy Wolf to arbitration.

Fans aren’t supposed to be concerned this divorce is impacting the product on the field?

Jamie also claimed in a court filing that Frank was engaged in "calculated subterfuge" to mislead the court about his true financial resources.
This is cover-the-eyes, look-away divorce material, or would be if this didn’t have the appearance of a most public separation.

Almost every divorce is painful, too many filled with nasty maneuverings that leave lasting bitterness. But most are a comparatively private affair, played out within the confines of family and close friends.

Not this one. This one gets constant headlines, gets public accusations, has lawyers jockeying to shape opinion. Before it’s all settled, it only figures to grow worse, to become more Machiavellian and potentially dangerous to the baby, which in this case is the team.

There will be no judgment of Solomon with the Dodgers. Both McCourts want to own their largest asset, the Dodgers. Jamie claimed in her filing that Frank doesn’t just want to run the team but use it as the centerpiece of a sports empire that would include cable TV channels, shops, a football stadium and homes within the Dodger Stadium parking lot.

An NFL stadium? What? Again? Think he’s has many conversations with stadium-area residents over this grand design?

With all this as a back drop, the Dodgers are emerging from one of their quietest offseasons in years. They locked in key young players but were observers to major free-agent signings and significant trades. All this lends credence to the suspicion that the ongoing divorce has hamstrung front-office operations. Just logically, it seems an unwise time for Frank McCourt to personally be investing millions in an uncertain future.

The trial to determine team ownership is scheduled to begin May 24. For fans, there may be no winner. Neither of the McCourts may have the resources to own the team as an individual, though both claim they can.

Meanwhile, it is impossible to shake the feeling the organization is trying to tread water while this plays out, just trying to get by, at a time when its core young players may only need the addition of that one key, and expensive, addition to finally reach the World Series.

Pitchers and catchers arrive at the Dodgers’ spring home in Arizona on Saturday. Yet unlike every other team, the keenest focus on the Dodgers will not be on the doings at camp but on the fallout of ongoing divorce proceedings.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Jamie and Frank McCourt in 2008. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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