Selig Takes Control of L.A. Dodgers

Ultimately, it appears that Selig’s goal is to force McCourt to sell the Dodgers. The Dodgers are estimated to be worth anything from $800 million to over $1 billion. But the ability to sell the Dodgers may be complicated by Frank McCourts’ ongoing divorce proceedings with his ex-wife Jaime.  The McCourt divorce court has ruled that Jaime co-owns the team along with Frank.

(For the best coverage of the McCourt follies, the ongoing mismanagement of the Dodgers and the resulting financial crisis surrounding the team, please read our friend Josh Fisher over at the terrific web site Dodger Divorce.)

Both the Dodgers and the Mets have received considerable attention here and elsewhere for the large amounts of debt they have taken on in recent years, apparently in violation of baseball’s rules restricting team debt. But these two teams are not the only ones in deep debt. Tune in tomorrow, where I hope to post a piece on the issue of baseball and borrowed money. In the meantime, please post any questions you’d like me to address in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Selig Takes Control of L.A. Dodgers

  1. Thank you Larry for writing a professional article about the finances. Over on ESPN its all about the drama. The main article starts:
    """Once among baseball's glamour franchises, the Dodgers have been consumed by infighting since Jamie McCourt filed for divorce after 30 years of marriage in October 2009, one week after her husband fired her as the team's chief executive. Frank McCourt accused Jamie of having an affair with her bodyguard-driver"""

    it took a while before they got to the financial stuff.

    • Well … the Dodgers' recent history is a wild story. You can't really tell the whole story without getting into some of the drama. But there are so many stories here, one of which being "The Commissioner Can Really Do That?" Evidently, he can. I'm going to focus on the money stuff, because that's what I do, but I'm hoping that someone else here decides to write about the implications of the Commissioner having this kind of power. One implication being: who in the world will they find to replace Selig? Who will the 30 owners trust with the power to seize control of their teams and force a sale?

      • I have never heard of a baseball comissioner having that kind of power. Will they be able to trade or make acquisitions? This is so confusing. Now I am going to investigate to see if what Bud did can legally happen. I was shocked to hear about this..still am.

        • We're all shocked, particularly here in L.A. Best as I can tell, yes, the Selig-run Dodgers will be able to make trades, bid for free agents (if the Selig control lasts that long) and do everything that ordinary baseball ownership can do. Selig will also have the power to continue to lend MLB baseball money to the Dodgers to fund these activities. Selig seems to be relying on his power to act "in the best interests of baseball." If there's interest here, I'll jump into the baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement and other governing documents and see what I can tell you … but as I write this I'm also trying to get out some columns on the problem of borrowed money in baseball.

      • That's the beauty behind "In the Best Interest of the Game of Baseball" clause he has at his disposal. (I'm sure that's not the official title, but it's close.) Frank McCourt was a detriment to the sport, and he was endangering one of the most beloved franchises. To be honest, I'm kind of surprised it took him so long. Hopefully, this doesn't set a precedent for Selig or future commissioners.

        • Chip, what check is there on the Commissioner's power? Let's say that Selig doesn't want to see the Yanks or BoSox sign any more free agents for a while. Or that he doesn't think it's in the best interests of baseball for teams to sign corner outfielders to 10 year contract extensions. What then?

          I agree with you, Selig had to act — whether he chose the best particular way to act is going to be judged in hindsight, but that's another issue. But we're building a long-term problem here. We have a Commissioner in place who is exercising unprecedented power, pretty much because he's seized it himself and over time he's put together a group of owners who are too weak to offer up a challenge. But Selig won't last forever, and then these same weak owners are going to have to agree on a Selig replacement … the more power Selig grabs before he goes, the more difficult it's going to be for this weak group of owners to agree on the replacement that's going to be able to exercise all that power.

          This is the age-old political dilemma, setting up a stable system of government that does not fall apart at every succession of power.