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It's Steve Soboroff unplugged: Frank McCourt is a changed man

April 21, 2011 |  5:18 pm

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It's hard to know where to begin with Steve Soboroff, the Dodgers' new vice chairman of something. Say this for him: He doesn't back down.

After telling The Times' Bill Shaikin earlier that Major League Baseball had acted irresponsibly in taking control of the Dodgers, he repeated his charge several times while he stopped by the press box during Thursday's game.

Not that he stopped there. Among other things, Soboroff said divorce had changed Frank McCourt and he would never again pull $100 million away from the team (trust him), that MLB has placed the club on an expenditure limit and must approve anything over $5,000, that unlike the financially strapped Mets the Dodgers were being picked on, and blasted MLB for taking over the Dodgers without having a trustee already in place.

I was going to list his comments and then get all snarky on you, showing just how incredibly clever I can be, but figured you might just actually enjoy the experience of raw, unfiltered Soboroff.

So here's Steevie!

On joining a sinking ship: "So was Playa Vista, so was City Hall, so was the parks department, so was Staples Center, so was the Alameda Corridor, so was the school system. This is the 15th time I've gone on a sinking ship and been warned I was part of the Titanic. I do it to make L.A. a better place."

On looking out of touch with the situation: "I think Frank McCourt is a different person now moving forward or I wouldn't risk having people of your quality looking at a guy like me -- who's spent his whole life helping Big Brothers and all these things -- and say, 'What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?'

"I don't drink. I don't use drugs. I don't use steroids. I have one wife. I have five kids. I have stitches on my nose. I'm not doing this for any reason other than to help L.A. I would love to show the commissioner what's going on here. This should be a model for other baseball teams."

Ripping MLB for not having a trustee in place: "Whoever the Wizard of Oz that comes out here to run this place … usually to me, if you're going to send somebody out to take over, you don't write a letter that says, 'Well, gee whiz, here's all these problems with you and here's everything else, and don't worry, later on in the week we're going to send somebody out.' You send them the same day."

On McCourt being in debt: "Whether he bought the team for cash, or whether he bought the team for 110% leverage, what he did was double the value of the asset. It's irrelevant to me whether or not he paid cash for the team or was smart enough to get the team for nothing. What happened is, he doubled the value of the team."

On getting MLB's notification: "That letter was not expected, was a shock … the content of the letter, the spirit of the letter beneath it, if you hold it up there's probably a part that was whited out saying, 'We've already made our decision.' This letter was written by 35 lawyers. I mean, come on. I thought it was irresponsible."

On whether he's too late to the party: "Well, it sure seems like it, doesn't it? They wrote a letter saying we're not in charge. And I would like to make over $5,000 a year. Any expenditure over $5,000 has to be approved."

On McCourt, the changed man: "I think so, and I think he deserves a chance. He had a life-changing event. And it's sad. Although some of it is extravagant and ridiculous to the common man, divorce is sad. He's had an experience that he's gone through and emerged from, that has changed him. I believe this or I would not have done this."

On whether MLB is picking on McCourt: "Yes, obviously they are. What teams in America have a $3-billion, $2½-billion deal ready to go? That puts the Dodgers in jeopardy? Come on, it puts them in the upper echelon in a financial situation of all other teams.

"Talk to me about something else. Say I don't like him because of his shoes, I don't like this or whatever he did. But don't talk to me about his financial situation. Give me a break. Let's compare it to other places, to other big-city situations. How do you single him out and you don't single the Mets out? Come on."

On Commissioner Bud Selig: "What did the commissioner of baseball do? He increased the value, he increased revenue lines. He did all kinds of great things for baseball. If you read his Wikipedia and you read Frank's Wikipedia, they ain't too different."

On McCourt no longer pulling out team funds for personal use: "I don't see it. Frank McCourt is not going to take $150 million, $200, $300 million dollars more out of this thing. This is the most important thing in his life now."

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, talks with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt before the Dodgers' season opener against the San Francisco Giants on March 31. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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