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Time for Major League Baseball to step in and take Dodgers from the McCourts

We have a winner!

OK, not exactly. Alas, maybe just a round-one winner.

These legal things have way of taking on a life of their own, particularly when nearly $1 billion is at stake, which may give new life to the one real hope: Major League Baseball steps in and takes over the Dodgers.

Still highly unlikely, given Commissioner Bud Selig’s history of dynamic leadership -- can we huddle and get a consensus, please? -- but the case for it is building.

What we do know for now is that Tuesday's ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon throws out the 2004 marital agreement that would have left Frank McCourt as sole owner of the Dodgers.

As of today, it's Frank and Jamie McCourt, back together again. At least as legal owners of the team.

Frank, naturally, is not going to roll over so easily. He was planning his next legal attack long before Gordon's ruling came down.

That Gordon would side with Jamie can't be too shocking for anyone who's spent their life in community-property California. Even if there weren't three documents that said one thing, and three the other, the state has a long history of equal financial treatment for each spouse in divorce proceedings.

Now if you're of the mind that the McCourts have lost all credibility with the community and should sell the team, you may be hoping this ruling forces them to do just that.

You can also cross your fingers and wish upon a star and hope Santa brings you a private island in the South Pacific.

Whatever else they may be, Frank and Jamie are two prideful, strong-willed people, neither of whom are going to suddenly announce, "Oh, what the heck. Let's just settle."

Which is why this legal fight may only be just underway. And why Major League Baseball needs to wake up, do what is best for baseball and take the team.

There is not a lot of history here, but there is some. After a series of blunders, MLB forbid Marge Schott from running the Reds and ultimately forced her to sell in 1999.

Perhaps you read just Monday that the NBA is planning to purchase the New Orleans Hornets, fearing that owner George Shinn might sell the team to someone who would relocate the franchise.

So it can be done, which Frank has to know. The case would need to be made that the uncertainty and current situation is detrimental to the team. And, sorry, finishing fourth in the West doesn't qualify. Cynics might say this would explain the Dodgers early aggressiveness in their offseason spending: "Look, see, everything is fine!"

But Selig should be able to recognize that this "divorce of the century" could last for years and leave neither side in a position to properly run what is supposed to be one of baseball's iconic franchises.

The McCourts have been given their chance to straighten this mess out; now it should be baseball’s turn.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Frank and Jamie McCourt in 2006. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (18)

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Why would MLB take ownership from the McCourts? This is exactly what they wanted to keep salaries down by allowing ownership in a major market by someone who obviously could not afford it.

Sorry Steve...
Can't agree with you on this on. At this point, all that bringing in MLB will do is add another layer of litigation. What has the last layer accomplished other than to throw the whole organization into chaos?

Its time for Dodger baseball!

Sad. These carpetbaggers from Boston need to just go away. Bud Selig needs to do the right thing and invoke his "best interests of the game" power and force a sale.

While I wish someone would do something, I'm afraid of what Bud Selig would do. Remember this is the commissioner that made the ruling that the league that wins the All-Star game has the home field advantage in the World Series. He could give the club back to Fox (kind of a do-over). He might cut the team in half and allow Frank to run the office and Jamie to run the defense.

Steve has it kind of right, the McCourts are too narcissistic (not strong willed) to just give up. No, they'd rather spend millions fighting over this. They each have to be right!

"Prideful & strong willed": it's called narcassistic.

Can't agree with you, Steve. I want to see the team sold to an owner who isn't limited to spend more on the team. But look at this train wreck of a team: the chaos can't yet be proven to hurt the team - they won the division and made the NLCS two years in a row prior to last year. Last year was a disaster and bad PR, but still, coming out of spring training, on paper the Dodgers looked like they'd have a great offense, great bullpen and weak starting pitching. That turned out to be worse in all three cases. And with just one season like that after two winning seasons, can baseball prove that it wasn't just a bad fluke season?

And then there's the question of baseball's priorities. If you're going to strip away franchise ownership because of one lousy season, then Frank is going to have legitimate questions about why are they taking the Dodgers away from me, and why aren't you forcing sales of several teams like the Orioles, Marlins, Pirates, Royals, Indians, and Blue Jays? Red Sox didn't make the playoffs either last year, better force them to sell. Seriously, where would it end? Frank's already proven he's comfortable in the courtroom, I doubt he'd take any action sitting down.

My hope would be for Bud to be working behind the scenes pushing Frank and Jamie to settle, letting them know there are certain expectations to owning a major league franchise, and if they can't settle their differences and meet their expectations, then they should sell. But I really don't see how he can force them to do this at this point.

Correction in my other post, I meant it turned out to be opposite in all three cases, not worse. The pitching was definitely better than expected. Sorry!

Bud Selig is a terrible leader so why would you expect him to do anything that is correct

Why would MLB take ownership from the McCourts? This is exactly what they wanted to keep salaries down by allowing ownership in a major market by someone who obviously could not afford it.

agreed, but this obviously hasn't worked Juan Uribe Jason Werth soon to be Crawford and Lee. Bararas went from being DFA and 500k to over 3 million!!

Steve I strongly agree with you in certain aspects. The aspect I dont agree with you is I don't think MLB should take over the Dodgers, because the last time MLB had any say in a sale for the Dodgers the McCourts became the owners. But as far as MLB getting involved I believe they should impose their will by forcing them to sell the team. And as far as neoncactus post, the Dodgers have been in need of acquiring a front of the rotation starting pitcher for a quite a while and have been lacking a power hitter for a long time, thats why the team has not been able to get over the hump to win a championship. The Dodgers have long held the record of having great attendance at home games, even with a losing season they came in 3rd place as far as attendance. But what is there to show for it, except for having one of MLB's lowest payrolls when this team is one of the biggest markets teams in this league.
As far as McCourt having a legitimate question in regards as to why MLB doesn't make other owners with unsuccessful season records sell as well: 1) look at those other teams attendance records and the market area that they are in! 2) those teams owners dirty laundry has not been exposed like the McCourts has, because now fans know what you have been doing with the hard earn money we spend to see management put the best product possible out on the field. 3) there is no PR move that you can do to help you change the perspective of fans, especially now that we know you have been pocketing the money instead of using it towards putting a great product on the field to win a championship year in and year out!

Bernard, we'll see about the last part of your paragraph. The reality is that the McCourts' idiocy hasn't significantly hurt their attendance. As long as people continue to buy tickets, there's no way to prove to baseball they are hurting the team, other than the public dirty laundry, and it still isn't to Marge Schott's swastika levels. It could be argued that if the Pirates stopped signing mediocre players and focused on developing and keeping good talent they've drafted like Bay and McCutchen, they would play better and therefore draw better attendance. How about the Marlins and Pirates dirty laundry of hoarding luxury tax money and the Marlins lying to get stadium financing pushed through?

As for the Dodgers needs, I agree they've needed a front line starter. And it would have been nice to have pursued Sabathia, but the likelihood is that the Yankees still would have outspent them. Just like with Lee, the Dodgers can offer whatever they want, and the Yankees will still outspend them, as they probably will do with the Rangers. It's not a simple matter of the team wanting a guy. As for last year, when they really needed another bona fide starter, the best starters on the market were Lackey and Piniero. The Dodgers did the right thing by avoiding those two guys. Lackey wanted way too much and the Red Sox wound up in the same position as the Dodgers with home. Piniero didn't help the Angels all that much either.

Kershaw is continuing to improve and I think Billingsley is going to have a strong season. And typically the Dodgers best pitchers are homegrown ones. We just have to keep Ned from trading them.

Major league baseball needs to clean up this mess!

So what else is new. O'Malley leaving Bklyn, The Murdoch regime and now this.
There's never a dull moment.

The Designated Hitter, Bud Selig, and the McCourt’s, are the worse things to ever happen to baseball.

The time to step in was before they bought the team. Seriously, they bought the team with less assets than half the residents of LA....A parking lot? Who vests these owners? Selig himself? That'd explain it...

As for equal financial treatment in divorces...when has that ever happened in California? It is pretty much a given that unless the woman is too high or drunk to show up or have a lawyer show up for her proceedings, she's going to clean the man out in California. If she doesn't get the money directly, she'll get custody of every debt/asset and orders for payments from the man to pay off those items. It is just lucky for Frank that they have no dependents, or he'd have to liquidate every asset he owns....

This situation is a great argument for community ownership of publicly traded teams, rather than private corporations that supposedly represent the public (Do you really think the guy from boston and the guy from chicago/sf running this team represent you, the people of la?)....

bud did not due a very good job when he owned the M's. What makes you think he would do a better job here. The court will force the sale and we can say goodby to the McCorts. Frank goes back to Boston and Jamie has all her new beverly hills freinds that frank will pay for to pal around with


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