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Frank McCourt finds religion in his desperate bid for support

June 13, 2011 |  1:52 pm

Mcourt There are those Henry David Thoreau folks who lead lives of quiet desperation, and then there is Frank McCourt.

McCourt is going down, but as is his way, not without a very nasty public fight. Desperate men will reach out anywhere and McCourt is flailing in all directions.

He is currently -- I promise you I’m not making this up -- trying to create an image that he is supported by the Los Angeles minorities.

That’s right, it’s Frank McCourt, man of the people, of all L.A. people. The white, opulent, rich guy from Boston.

Very curious since his price increases in tickets, concessions and parking have nearly wiped out the middle-class’ ability to even attend a Dodgers game, let alone the working class.

But last week came word that a group of 20 primarily black ministers from Los Angeles churches, mostly Baptist and Methodist, had come out in support of McCourt and wanted Commissioner Bud Selig to give him a second chance.

Wrote Gene Maddus of LA Weekly: "If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then religion is a close second. The much-loathed Dodger (co-?)owner, Frank McCourt, has already wrapped himself in the flag, trotting out "God Bless America" for the 7th inning stretch. That hasn't gotten people off his case, so now it's time to come to Jesus."

The 20 ministers wrote a June 3 letter to Selig, that among other out-of-touch comments, said:

"In our communities and churches we attempt to teach our thousands of congregants about fairness, dignity and equity. That is why we must speak up in support of Frank McCourt and the Los Angeles Dodgers."

Dignity and equity, regular McCourt staples. Not sure what’s been dignified about accusing your wife of adultery or equitable of battling to prevent her from receiving half the marital estate.

That’s not to mention pulling out over $100 million from the team to feed an extravagant lifestyle, not paying taxes on it, slashing team payroll, paying their kids for not working and leveraging the franchise over $500 million, to the point where he can’t make payroll without going even further into debt.

Help me ministers, what was it the Bible said about money being the root of all evil?

McCourt is not just reaching out to blacks but the Hispanic community as well. And why do I sense the hand of team public-affairs honcho Howard Sunkin all over this?

The William C. Velasquez Institute released a statement last week in support of McCourt that questioned Selig’s intentions and painted poor McCourt as a … victim.

"Rather than focus his attention on understanding why at least nine major league baseball teams have financial issues, it appears that Selig's very personal mission is the ousting of McCourt in a very public and insensitive manner," said Angela Sanbrano, president of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities. "Frankly, it seems that the recent financial issues with the Dodgers are more of Selig's making than Dodger owner McCourt.  Maybe its time that people begin to ask questions about Selig's motivations."

And here you thought McCourt had figured out it was unwise to attack Selig while he’s determining the future ownership of the Dodgers. Turns out, he’s being unfairly picked on!

If you’re as completely clueless about what has dragged the Dodgers into this financial abyss, it’s best to keep quiet about it and not expose your ignorance. Thinking baseball is not really their area of expertise.

Hard to believe these church leaders and minority organizations can be so out of touch with their own people. OK, no it’s not. McCourt has built 12 baseball fields in largely minority areas, which is commendable but hardly reason to be turned into a puppet.

McCourt’s self-created quagmire should not also smirch those who say they represent their communities. Stay tuned, though, there are still those who will claim to represent Asian, gay, short people, feminists, the elderly and Justin Bieber fans, yet to be heard from.

Desperation knows no limits.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: The Rev. John J. Hunter of First AME Church says Frank McCourt’s “inner circle” reached out to clergy. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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