Ted Green: For the Dodgers, it's always a matter of money
On Friday, a Superior Court judge with a more superior grasp of math than you and I possess ordered Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to pay his estranged wife, Jamie, $637,159 a month in temporary spousal support, plus lawyers' fees, pending their bitter divorce.
That's like $7.5 million a year. Just about what you'd pay a real good frontline pitcher, isn't it?
I know. The Dodgers insist, swear like Tommy Lasorda, that the money being discussed in the Divorce From Hell is totally separate from the money used to run the baseball team.
"The Dodgers are not Frank McCourt's personal piggy bank," his lawyer says. So that's what they tell us and that's what we're supposed to believe.
Ahh, but if you're really True Blue, don't you suspect with more than average conviction that the Dodgers' failure to spend one red penny on pitching during the off-season is somehow connected to funds being tied up in the McCourts' big breakup?
I admit, I have no idea know how much Jamie McCourt needs to pay mortgages on seven houses plus an eighth piece of property in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I wouldn't know what to do with seven houses, especially when the one perfectly good house we already have luckily has a laundry room and swimming pool, not requiring me to go someplace else to swim or wash my gym shorts. But, hey, homes are expensive, especially when they're in Malibu and Holmby Hills.
However, I do know by cleverly looking it up on MLB.com that the Dodgers are currently 26th out of 30 major league teams in staff earned-run average, with an ERA over five runs a game. Only four teams are worse, one of them being the Angels, keeping bad pitching in Los Angeles-area family.
I'm guessing the Dodgers didn't spend on upgrading their wobbly starting pitching because Frank McCourt correctly figured the fans would give him a freebie this season, more placidly accept an off year or even two because, after all, the team did win the N.L. West the last two seasons, reaching baseball's final four, buying Frank a year or two, you would think, to fail on the field.
So, the theory goes, he saved some cash and instead of re-signing Randy Wolf or bringing in a nice, expensive arm, instead he's paying Jamie to go away. Afghanistan would be good.
Meantime, latimes.com says, "In the months since she made her lofty financial request, Jamie McCourt has been vilified in the court of public opinion and in the courtroom -- where her husband's attorney, Sorrell Trope, likened her to Marie Antoinette."
I'm guessing Marie Antoinette didn't have a house in Malibu where she went only to do her laundry, as Frank McCourt's lawyer claims Mrs. McCourt does. And she was still beheaded -- Marie, I mean, not Jamie.
Anyway, today in court, Frank McCourt claimed the Dodgers are worth $150 million, making them about three times less valuable than the Clippers, according to Frank's calculations. The Dodgers? $150 million? Forbes says they're worth $482 million. But 150? I imagine court recessed until the hysterical laughter died down.
And according to his lawyer, money-conscious Frank is living at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, which has a laundry room that takes quarters.
I hope the McCourts settle their differences because life is too short to bicker.
I also hope Frank sells the Dodgers. That way Donald Sterling can once again lead the L.A. Owners' League in penny-pinching, stiffing Mike Dunleavy out of the money the Clippers' former GM/coach is apparently owed, rightfully and contractually, but now Dunleavy has to litigate to get, what?, maybe 60 cents on the dollar?
(By the way, a small aside here: Does anyone over there in la la Clipper fantasyland really think LeBron James is coming to a franchise where former coaches have to hire lawyers and go to court to collect their contracts? LeBron would rather play in Italy, where all the fans chain smoke in the arena.)
But back to the McCourts.
If we must.
-- Ted Green
Green formerly covered sports for the L.A. Times and is now Senior Sports Producer for KTLA News.
Photo: Frank and Jamie McCourt at a Dodgers game in July 2006. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times