Dodgers want hearing on team sale delayed until December
Major League Baseball should not get to seek the sale of the Dodgers in Bankruptcy Court until at least Dec. 12 -- and probably later, team attorneys argued in a Tuesday court filing that included references to stars Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.
The Dodgers called the proposed sale order a "heavy-handed response" to their effort to sell the team's television rights. The Dodgers asked that the television rights issue be heard as scheduled on Oct. 12.
MLB had asked the court to consider two motions that day: one, the proposed order to sell the Dodgers; and two, a request to disqualify the Dodgers' attorneys for allegedly representing the interests of owner Frank McCourt rather than those of the team.
The Dodgers argued the league could not possibly expect a hearing on disqualification in which it presumed it would win, then expect the Dodgers to proceed without attorneys to a same-day hearing on whether McCourt should be forced to sell the team.
The Dodgers asked the court to hear their motion Wednesday. Among the reasons cited: "The Jewish holidays begin at sundown."
In their filing, the Dodgers cited at least 20 areas in which they believe extensive discovery is warranted. If those discovery requests are granted, the hearing on whether to sell the team could be delayed months beyond the Dec. 12 date that the Dodgers' attorneys say is the earliest such a hearing should be set.
The discovery requests essentially seek to find out whether Selig has treated the Dodgers in good faith and whether he can back up his allegations of mismanagement. As an example, the Dodgers might seek to compare Selig's treatment of McCourt and his team to that of Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and his team.
"The Commissioner asserts that 'Major League Baseball believes a sale of the Dodgers is necessary,' " the Dodgers' filing read. The Dodgers "are entitled to discovery from MLB to probe whether this view is genuine or merely a pretext ... particularly in view of the paramount policy of the bankruptcy laws of the United States to promote reorganizations and prevent liquidations."
The filing takes particular issue with the MLB claim that McCourt has used the Dodgers to advance his personal interests, including his alleged failure to operate the team in "the best interests of the Dodgers and Major League Baseball."
"The Dodgers are guaranteed to complete the current season with a winning record," the team filing read, "and its player development system appears to have generated the leading contenders for the National League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards. It is, therefore, not self-evident that [the Dodgers are] acting in anything but in the best interests of the Dodgers or of baseball more generally."
-- Bill Shaikin
Photo: Frank McCourt. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press