Frank McCourt on Dodgers: "Nobody is going to take them away"
Frank McCourt declared war on Major League Baseball on Wednesday, forcefully rejecting what he said was the league's effort to oust him as the Dodgers' owner.
"Nobody handed the Dodgers to me," McCourt said. "Nobody is going to take them away."
In a meeting with baseball officials in New York, McCourt was told that Commissioner Bud Selig had rejected the television contract with Fox that McCourt had presented as the solution to the Dodgers' long-term financial challenges. McCourt said in a subsequent news conference that the contract met with baseball's guidelines -- and in fact had been revised to satisfy the league's concerns -- and that Selig rejected the deal only as a means of forcing him out.
McCourt called the Dodgers' television rights "our asset" and said it was "un-American" that he could not control that asset.
"It is not appropriate for one party's property to be seized by another party," McCourt said, "just because they got divorced or for some arbitrary reason."
That language suggests strongly that a lawsuit from McCourt is imminent, although McCourt declined to discuss that prospect Wednesday. McCourt and other incoming owners sign an agreement that acknowledges the commissioner's authority to act in the best interests of baseball and waive the right to sue. To prevail in court, McCourt would have to show that Selig abused his power by acting arbitrarily and capriciously.
McCourt had met with officials from the commissioner's office -- led by executive vice president Rob Manfred, the commissioner's point man on the Dodgers situation -- but not with Selig himself.
"I suspect the commissioner calls the other 29 owners back when they call," McCourt said.
McCourt said he had been told during Wednesday's meeting that Tom Schieffer, the trustee appointed by Selig on Monday to run the Dodgers, would act as "nothing short of a receiver, somebody coming in to run my business. I'm not going to accept that."
McCourt held his news conference at the New York office of a firm specializing in "strategic, corporate and financial communications." The event started 15 minutes before Schieffer was set to hold an introductory news conference at a Los Angeles airport hotel. Schieffer delayed the start of his conference by 30 minutes, waiting until McCourt's had finished.
-- Bill Shaikin
Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaks to reporters after meeting with Major League Baseball executives, Wednesday in New York. Credit: Mary Altaffer / AP