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The Frank and Jamie McCourt numbers game: The bottom line is all bad

September 2, 2010 |  1:30 pm

Numbers are the boon and bane of baseball. No other sport offers such detailed statistical analysis. The data can be clearly insightful and minutely cumbersome.

But no baseball numbers are so overwhelming, so eye-popping, so ridiculous, and yet ultimately so enlightening, as the ones emerging from the McCourts’ divorce trial.

I can figure an ERA and OPS, but I can’t begin to fathom the inner workings of the financial shell game Frank and Jamie McCourt have designed.

My favorite number is 867-5309, but doubt a call to Jenny is going to clear this baby up.

I get this number though: $433 million in debt.

Get how things are so convoluted, so upside down, so are-you-freaking-kidding-me ludicrous that a guy who made his money from infomercials refused to lend $25 million to Frank McCourt,  despite getting invited to all those fun-filled press conferences.

Get that as most everyone has suspected for more than a year, the Dodgers didn’t sign or trade for that desperately needed big-time starter because they couldn’t afford it.

They can’t afford the No. 5 guy they have now. Almost every buck is going to debt service. And you thought those credit card payments were rough.

Every single Dodger employee has to be a tad more nervous today. From the guy at the bottom of the front-office payroll to the top-paid player. Nervous about job security for the office worker, nervous about the team ever seriously spending to add missing pieces if you’re a player.

This despite the McCourts raising team revenue over $46 million the past four years. That’s some nifty financial management.

You start up shaky new holding companies, charge yourself  $14 mil in rent for the stadium you already own, pay a fourth of a charity’s budget to a single person, borrow money against the parking lots to buy more estates, dodge paying income taxes for six years while pocketing $108 mil … and this financial Rubik’s Cube is a surprise?

It is depressing. It should be embarrassing. Yet, sadly, it only figures to get worse before it gets better.

It feels like a financial tightrope with a bad fall waiting. Their Hail Mary is a budding new TV deal in 2013. If they can survive that long.

-- Steve Dilbeck


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