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Dodgers' Frank McCourt: MLB owners' new inspiration

February 1, 2012 |  1:59 pm

Hey, fight that laughter. I’m serious. Well, you know, mostly serious.

So how could the man who mismanaged the Dodgers so badly that  Commissioner Bud Selig had a lieutenant take over the team's daily control, who shamed the team by dragging it into  bankruptcy court, who has become a local and national laughingstock and whose fans deserted him in record numbers act as a beacon to his fellow Major League Baseball owners?

Because he’s about to make them all richer. OK, make that, even richer.

Not only are the Dodgers about to break a record for a baseball team sale price, they’re going to shatter it. And it appears they may be sold at twice what Forbes estimated their value to be less than a year ago.

Forbes has pretty much set the standard for evaluating the worth of professional sports franchises, and it is usually very accurate. But Forbes, like most everyone else, apparently misjudged the escalating effect of media rights deals.

In March, Forbes estimated the Dodgers to be worth $800 million. And then their attendance dropped by more than 600,000 in 2011.

No matter, McCourt believes he will get at least $1.5 billion in the sale of this team, maybe more. All indications from the veiled process indicate he’s going to get it. Larry King, part of the Dennis Gilbert group, said they failed to advance to the second round after an initial bid of $1.25 billion.

The current record for the sale of a team is the $845 million the Cubs brought in 2009.

If the Dodgers get twice what they were estimated to be worth, MLB owners will sit back and lap up a trickle-down effect. It’s the rising-tide effect. And the irony is too great. The one owner they most despised and wanted gone is about to make them all wealthier on his way out.

It has William Juliano at The Captain’s Blog wondering if McCourt’s success might inspire other MLB owners to sell, particularly those in major markets. The troubled Mets seem a prime candidate.

At least eight bidders have advanced to the second round of the auction. Eight deemed well-heeled enough to approach McCourt’s desired price. They’re hardly all from Los Angeles, which is going to leave at least seven of the obscenely rich who desire an MLB team without one.

Other owners are surely taking notice. Just don’t expect a note of gratitude to be headed McCourt’s way.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

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