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MLB plays fan card in asking for Dodgers sale

September 23, 2011 |  4:17 pm

At the outset of the Dodgers bankruptcy case, the judge received letters from Dodgers fans expressing opposition to owner Frank McCourt. The court clerk included five such letters in the case file before the judge ordered them removed.

"The Court well understands the right and motivation of fans to express their concerns for the baseball team they love and the Court respects their passion," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross wrote. "Nonetheless, it is not proper for the Court to docket fans' letters."

However, Major League Baseball cited fan sentiment on Friday in its request that Gross order the sale of the Dodgers.

The Dodgers concluded their home schedule on Thursday. As Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported, the Dodgers sold fewer tickets than the Milwaukee Brewers, the team that plays in the smallest market in MLB. Knobler also reported the Dodgers could finish sixth in league attendance for only the second time since 1918.

In its court filing Friday, MLB said McCourt's plan to refinance the Dodgers by selling their television rights would put the Dodgers "down a path of destruction" by subverting league rules and subjecting the franchise to termination by MLB and a lawsuit for damages by Fox Sports, by threatening the revenues shared with -- and franchise values of -- the other 29 teams and by diverting revenue that should be used to "complete stadium renovations, retain and sign players and fix and maintain its farm system."

In contrast, the league argued, the sale of the Dodgers would provide McCourt with "hundreds of millions of dollars," furnish the team with a "well-capitalized owner," satisfy the goals of Fox, the league, its teams, the ex-wife of Frank McCourt and -- yes, the fans.

"Dodgers fans will receive what they seek: new ownership, allowing them to return and support the team," the filing read.


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-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Credit: Frank Franklin II / Associated Press