MLB calls Dodgers' document demands "totally irrelevant"
Major League Baseball asked a federal bankruptcy judge to uphold a ruling that restricts the documents to which the Dodgers are entitled, arguing Tuesday that attorneys for team owner Frank McCourt are seeking "totally irrelevant" materials.
If U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross does not affirm his original ruling, the league argued, the bankruptcy proceedings would "likely drag on into the 2012 baseball season, harming the Dodgers."
Gross has set a hearing Wednesday, at which he will hear the Dodgers' request that he reconsider his order denying the team "discovery into or of other baseball clubs."
The Dodgers said Monday that they need access to such information to make their case that Commissioner Bud Selig has treated McCourt differently than he has treated other owners--in their words, that Selig is "using a different strike zone" for McCourt.
In its response Tuesday, the league included a copy of Rule 9.02 of the Official Baseball Rules: "Any umpire's decision which involves judgment ... is final."
The league reminded Gross that McCourt, like all owners, has signed an agreement deferring to Selig's judgment. The MLB attorneys also claimed that the Dodgers' attorneys had botched their strike-zone metaphor.
"Pitchers, managers and owners often believe that one pitcher got a better call than another on a similar pitch, but they are not allowed to litigate that decision," the MLB filing read. "As all baseball fans know, an umpire's judgment calls cannot be challenged."
The league said information from other clubs is not germane because how Selig has treated McCourt--and, in particular, Selig's decision to reject the proposed television contract that McCourt says would have kept the Dodgers out of bankruptcy--is "based on individual factors that have never come up."
The league also objected to the Dodgers' contention that discovery rulings in the case have been "one-sided in favor of MLB," alleging that the MLB requests have been relevant and the Dodgers' requests have been "totally irrelevant."
The Dodgers' discovery requests--at least until Gross rules on them--include several categories apparently designed to help McCourt make his case that Selig had privately decided to oust him even as the commissioner said he had made no decision.
The demands include internal MLB communications regarding the Bryan Stow incident and Dodger Stadium security, the circumstances surrounding Selig's appointment of trustee Tom Schieffer, and communications between Selig's office and Fox Sports, ex-Dodgers executive Charles Steinberg and Jamie McCourt and her advisers. Jamie McCourt, the ex-wife of Frank McCourt, claims half-ownership of the Dodgers and wants the team sold.
The Dodgers also ask for "any documents ... relating to MLB considering, evaluating or discussing since Jan. 1, 2005 the possible acquisition of the Dodgers by another person or entity."
We'll have full coverage of Wednesday's hearing at latimes.com/sports, and as it happens at twitter.com/BillShaikin.
-- Bill Shaikin