Schieffer takes charge: Hope there will not be friction with McCourt but it's up to him
While Frank McCourt was going confrontational in New York, the man assigned to take control of the team by Major League Baseball was trying his best to be diplomatic, which makes sense for a former diplomat.
Still, Tom Schieffer made it clear at a airport hotel news conference Wednesday that baseball is now in charge of the Dodgers.
"The commissioner has the right, under the agreements that we have and in the best interests of baseball, to take control of a franchise when there is difficulty," Schieffer said. "And I think that’s what the commissioner has done and I am his representative."
McCourt said at his news conference in New York that he viewed Schieffer less as a monitor, as MLB described him, and more of a receiver and he would fight losing control.
"I don’t want to get into an argument with Mr. McCourt, a transcontinental argument here," Schieffer said. "I’m just here to help and will be happy to listen to him and evaluate his arguments.
"But we want this franchise to focus on baseball. People don’t want to talk about what’s going on in the front office, they want to know what’s going on with the team."
Schieffer said he wasn’t all that sure what a monitor was supposed to be.
"I never was a hall monitor in school, so I’m not exactly sure what a monitor is," he said. "But I think what that is is a representative of the commissioner in the best interest of baseball."
Schieffer was appointed Monday as Selig’s representative. MLB took control of the Dodgers a week ago.
McCourt made it clear he felt baseball was overstepping its rights in assuming it could take control of the team and sounded combative.
"I hope there will not be friction, but that is really his choice," Schieffer said.
Schieffer said it was not predetermined that the club could not return to McCourt.
"I think we’re all open-minded," he said. "One of the advantages I think I have coming in from the outside, I don’t know all the rumors. I don’t know all the stories. The facts will speak for themselves. I want to get to the facts and see where that takes us."
Schieffer, a former U.S. ambassador to Japan and Australia, said he was uncertain how long he would remain with the Dodgers.
"There is no deadline," he said. "What we’re trying to do is bring this franchise back to healthy stature, that can function and be a big part of baseball."
Schieffer said he had yet to talk to McCourt.
"Mr. McCourt is the owner of the franchise," he said. "I would certainly like to listen to him and see what he’s talked about, but I am here to hopefully help the franchise get back on its feet."
Schieffer said his presence will hopefully set Dodgers fans at ease.
"I hope it will give them some confidence that the instability and turmoil is coming to an end, and we’re going to get to the bottom of whatever the problem is and make a positive difference," he said.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: MLBs new monitor for the Dodgers, Tom Schieffer, at his first day on the job in L.A. holds a press conference Wednesday. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times