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Is McCourts' lengthy, costly divorce settlement mere prelude?

Well, there goes the face of the Dodgers.

Anyway, I think so. Who knows exactly what to think anymore when it comes to the legal nightmare that has become what was once one of the most cherished aspects of Los Angeles culture.

The Los Angeles Dodgers as an organization has been rendered almost unrecognizable by the financial maneuverings of Frank and Jamie McCourt, so it’s understandable if you’re uncertain how to react to The Times’ report by Bill Shaikin that the dueling duo has finally reached a divorce settlement that relinquishes Jamie’s claim on the team.

This would have been serious, landscape-changing news if it had been announced two years ago. That would have saved them millions of dollars in legal fees, not to mention all the stomach-turning, opulent revelations that changed public perception and brought Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig banging on their door, eviction notice in hand.

MLB vs. Frank McCourt has become the main event, and if Frank and Jamie now will  become something of odd bedfellows -– pun intended -– Frank will still have plenty of legal opposition in bankruptcy court from MLB and Fox.

The settlement agreement reportedly calls for Jamie to receive about $130 million to relinquish her claim to half the team. Of course, Frank apparently doesn’t have $130 million. The Dodgers had to borrow $150 million from MLB to stay afloat back in August. McCourt had to borrow $30 million from Fox to make payroll in April. He had to get an advance from Fox in the winter.

If the team is sold, Jamie jumps to first in the line of creditors. But this new agreement doesn’t sound all that different from the one they reached back in June, which was dependent upon Selig approving the Dodgers’ TV deal with Fox. Which, of course, he did not.

That June agreement said that if Frank was declared sole owner of the team, Jamie would receive $100 million, plus their seven mansions and indemnity from any tax liability.

Even if the bankruptcy court ultimately sides with MLB and orders the team auctioned, it’s possible there isn’t even $130 million in team equity to pay off Jamie.

At this point, everything is mere prelude to the four-day showdown between Selig and Frank McCourt scheduled to start on Halloween. It still figures to come down to whether the court is willing to override MLB rules. Or even if it thinks it has cause to do so.

Jamie, however, appears to have her stake carved out however things fall. She once called herself the face of the Dodgers and reportedly dreamed of a presidential run. Now she dreams of $130 million. Ah, the sacrifices of the well-heeled.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Twitter.com/stevedilbeck

 
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