Frank McCourt on selling Dodgers: 'It wasn't my first choice'
Frank McCourt said Tuesday he was "very, very sorry" to Dodgers fans for the ownership struggle of the last two years. In his first public comments in the two weeks since he agreed to sell the team -- ending a divorce court battle with his ex-wife and a Bankruptcy Court battle with Commissioner Bud Selig -- he said he was comfortable with his surrender.
"It got to a point where it became very, very clear to me that it was the right decision," said McCourt (above). "I'm at peace with the decision. It wasn’t my first choice."
McCourt also said -- and Major League Baseball officials confirmed -- that there is no formal or informal restriction against the Dodgers pursuing premium free agents such as Prince Fielder.
McCourt spoke with reporters after the Dodgers dedicated a youth baseball field at Mona Park in Compton. McCourt and Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp each spoke to the youngsters, but there was no announcement of the eight-year, $160-million contract to which Kemp and the team have agreed.
McCourt on ...
Whether he has a sense of relief: "I wouldn't say relief. It is a decision that was made. We're going to go forward, and we're going to do it in the most professional manner possible. ... I'll move on."
When he decided to give up the fight: "When you guys were aware of it. It's very recent. I made a decision. I made a deal with Major League Baseball. We announced it right thereafter."
What he would like say to the fans: "I'm very grateful to the fans. They have been phenomenal to me and my family since the day we arrived in L.A. I know the last couple years were very, very difficult. I'm very, very sorry about that. We're going to move forward and handle the situation now in as professional a way as possible and make sure the baton is passed here in a classy way."
What he has endured the last two years: "It's been tough. It's been a tough couple years, no question. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It's been a privilege to own this franchise. My focus is to make sure I hand it on in better shape than I found it."
Whether he has seller's remorse: "I've made a decision, and I'm going to stick with that decision. It got to a point where it became very, very clear to me that it was the right decision. I'm at peace with the decision. It wasn't my first choice. It is something that I'm comfortable with. I'm now very, very focused on making sure I pass the baton here in a way that is as professional as possible and make sure that I hand off the franchise in better shape than I found it."
His future: "The future is unlimited, quite frankly. The future has many, many possibilities. But right now the focus is on doing right by this community. I'm not going to get distracted. Life is great every single day. I've had tremendous opportunities in my life. I anticipate I'll have more moving forward. I'm happy that I'm clearing up a number of things in my personal life as well. That's going to be very, very helpful." (He is obligated to sell the Dodgers and pay off his divorce settlement by April 30.)
His relationship with Selig: "I've taken the high road throughout here, whether it's been the commissioner or my former wife. I'm going to continue to do that."
How he will run the Dodgers for now: "I want to continue to make the right decisions for this franchise for as long as I own it. That's my responsibility."
Whether there is any reason General Manager Ned Colletti would not be able to pursue a premium free agent: "No, there's not."
When the Dodgers would announce the new contract with Kemp: "We'll announce it when it's a done deal."
What he would be looking for in a new owner, since it's his choice: "It's somebody who is a huge baseball fan, who loves this community and is willing to commit to this community and put everything they have into it, and bring a world championship to L.A."
-- Bill Shaikin
Photo credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times