Author Archives: Larry@IIATMS

Stunned Silence

Maybe I can’t get past the fact that current Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, the guy whose inept management and systematic looting drove the team into bankruptcy, is about to set some kind of record for the largest amount of money ever pocketed in the sale of a sports franchise. It’s as if McCourt tried to shoot himself in the foot, missed, and struck oil instead. It could have happened to a nicer guy.

Last year I wrote that McCourt had to go, and he is finally going to go. But he’ll be a lot richer than he was when he arrived, and that’s not necessarily the way I wanted to see him go. As Smith College’s Andrew Zimbalist put it, McCourt took a $430-million asset and turned it into a $2.15-billion asset by despoiling it over a period of eight years. McCourt is proof that you can make it in America by being so obnoxiously incompetent that someone will pay you a billion dollars just to leave town.…

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Braun, Baseball And Getting It Right

While we wait for more facts, let’s dispose of two points currently circulating about the Braun case. The first take is that the Braun case was decided on a “technicality”. This argument is based on a wrong idea of how drug testing works. The labs don’t search for testosterone in urine the way you and I would search for a worm in an apple. The testing process can take a day or longer, and there are many steps involved. All of these steps – including sample collection, sample storage and sample preparation, along with the chain of custody that documents the journey the sample takes along the way – are integral parts of the testing process, no matter how technical a step may seem to us. Labs don’t skip steps and offer up excuses later. When a lab skips a step, it tosses out the result and starts over.

In order for a lab to use a test method, the test method has to be validated – the test itself must be tested.…

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A Rational Goodbye to the 2011 Season

This is a Yankees team that exceeded expectations. Both Brien and Jason have given you some of the details. But to remind you, none of the 45 baseball experts polled by ESPN saw the Yankees winning the American League East. The best computer projections and the prevailing betting line both indicated that the Yankees would struggle for a wild card. Instead, the Yankees performed better than any of us predicted.

The Yanks also played a solid series against the Tigers. The Yanks outscored Detroit by 28 to 17, and outhit Detroit by 45 to 36. The Yanks drew more walks, had more extra-base hits, and even struck out slightly less often (25.8% of their plate appearances, versus 26.9% for the Tigers).  Yes, Alex Rodriguez hit only .111 in the series, and Mark Teixeira hit just .167, but this was a short series and not every starter is going to mash in a short series. The three Tigers hitters I personally feared the most – Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Alex Avila – hit .200, .222 and .063, respectively.   …

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Chaos

It seems almost beneath mention that the Orioles had a comparatively large 4.7% chance of beating the BoSox when Chris Davis came to the plate last night in the ninth with two out and no one on. It would take a statistician of the quality of a Nate Silver to calculate the odds-defying chance that the Red Sox would miss the playoffs and that the Sox and Yanks would both lose last night’s game. If all three of these events were independent of each other (and I don’t think that they are), the odds against what we witnessed last night would be something like 1,750,000-1 – and I haven’t even tried to factor in the odds against what happened this month and last night to the Atlanta Braves.

(YIKES! While I wrote this, Nate Silver did calculate the odds. As I predicted, I got the odds wrong. According to Silver, the odds of what we witnessed last night were actually 278,000,000 to one.…

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The Dodgers Bankruptcy: A Q&A

With the automatic stay in place, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig should be prevented (for the moment, at least) from seizing control of the team or taking any other punitive action against McCourt.

Where is Frank McCourt going to come up with the money to run the Dodgers while the Dodgers are in bankruptcy?

This is the first issue for the Bankruptcy Court, and will probably be addressed in a preliminary way at a hearing today before the Bankruptcy Court. Companies in Chapter 11 bankruptcy frequently seek special “debtor in possession” (DIP) financing to stay in operation during bankruptcy. DIP lenders get a special priority – they are repaid in bankruptcy before just about everyone else.   McCourt has a proposal in place to borrow $150 million from a hedge fund affiliated with J.P. Morgan Chase. The proposal is, in the words of Craig Calcaterra, a “crappy loan”, at a 10% interest rate, with a $4.5 million fee on top of it, but the loan would keep the Dodgers afloat.…

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Dodgers File Bankruptcy

  • If the JP Morgan Chase DIP financing is approved, then the Dodgers should have the resources to meet their upcoming June 30 payroll. I think all expect that this financing will be quickly approved.
  • Under baseball’s Constitution, Commissioner Selig has the right to seize control of any team that files for bankruptcy. However, Selig’s power here will be trumped (at least for the moment) by the “automatic stay” that is a part of any business bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filing will insure that McCourt gets to run the Dodgers, for a while longer at least. To seize control of the Dodgers, MLB and the other creditors of the Dodgers will have to show fraud or gross mismanagement on the part of McCourt, and making this case will require a substantial amount of legal work (motions, filings, arguments) that would take some time to accomplish.
  • Circled in blue on the chart below are the five Dodger companies that have filed for bankruptcy. These companies own the Dodgers team, and Dodger Stadium.
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Frank McCourt Must Go (UPDATED)


UPDATE: Major League Baseball has announced that it has rejected the proposed TV deal between the Dodgers and Fox. The reasons given by MLB include many of those stated below: the deal is not in the best interests of baseball, it diverts too much money away from the Dodgers and to the McCourts and their proposed divorce settlement, it mortgages the future of the franchise, and so forth. Keep an eye on DodgerDivorce.com for a complete analysis. Also, please comment below if you’d like to see more here at IIATMS on the Dodger situation.

This information in this piece was compiled with the assistance of Josh Fisher at DodgerDivorce.com, though the conclusions here are mine and not Josh’s. Josh is one of the great guys on the baseball internet, and if you’re interested in the saga of the Dodgers and Frank McCourt, you should make Josh’s site a must visit.

Over the next two weeks, Bud Selig will face the defining moment of his career as Commissioner of Major League Baseball.…

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Happy Birthday, Eduardo Nunez!

With Jeter on the 15-day DL with a calf injury, Nunez has suddenly become a very important Yankee. In fact, Nunez may remain a very important Yankee, even after Jeter returns to play. Calf injuries are nagging injuries. Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins suffered a similar injury in 2010, and Rollins reports that the injury bothered him throughout the 2010 season. According to Rollins, “The best advice I can give Derek is, ‘You’re going to get healed in the offseason.’”

We can hope that Jeter’s injury is not as serious as Rollins’ was. But it’s likely that the injury will slow Jeter down even after he’s returned to the lineup. Rollins has advised Jeter to “cautiously” return to play. A cautious return to play means that Jeter will play fewer games in the field, and Nunez may see a lot more time at shortstop.

How good is Nunez? He was the Yankees’ minor league Player of the Year in 2010, hitting .289/.340/.381 and committing only 10 errors at shortstop.…

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