Stunned Silence

I know I should be writing something about the $2.15 billion deal for the sale of the Dodgers out of bankruptcy to a buyer group featuring Earvin “Magic” Johnson. But the words won’t come.

$2.15 billion? $2,150,000 followed by another comma and three more zeros?

The reaction to this proposed sale (and it IS proposed; the deal must be approved by the Bankruptcy Court and Major League Baseball) is largely positive. Molly Knight likes it. Josh Fisher likes it. Maury Brown likes it.

As a Los Angeles resident, a Yankees fan living 5 miles from Dodger Stadium, I guess I should be happy too. But honestly, the deal leaves me at a loss for words.

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Braun, Baseball And Getting It Right

Ryan Braun has won his arbitration case challenging the claim made by Major League Baseball (MLB) that he used exogenous (artificial) testosterone at the end of the 2011 season. MLB’s claim was based on a drug test performed on a urine sample taken from Braun the afternoon of October 1, presumably after Braun’s Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks in game 1 of the NLDS. Braun is the first major leaguer to successfully challenge a positive doping test under baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

At this point, we can’t be sure how Braun won his case. Most reports follow ESPN, and claim that Braun’s urine sample was collected from Braun on the Saturday in question, and stored in the collector’s basement until the following Monday. Such handling arguably violates MLB’s own rules, requiring that “absent unusual circumstances” all urine samples must be delivered to Federal Express for shipment “on the same day they are collected”. (For a well-reasoned opinion to the contrary, see Drew Silva here.) But SI.com’s Will Carroll has tweeted that Braun’s lawyers proved that the delay in processing caused the high level of testosterone in Braun’s sample – that Braun’s legal team was able to show “not just WHY it happened, but HOW.” I’m hoping that Carroll or someone else (maybe Braun himself) will provide us with more detail. Braun himself plans to meet with the media later this morning; maybe we’ll learn something more at that time.

In the meantime, we find ourselves once again considering the Braun matter without having all of the facts in hand. Naturally, this doesn’t prevent certain people who ought to know better from speaking out. Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (an agency that plays no role in MLB’s drug testing program), has called the decision “a real gut-kick to clean athletes.” MLB Vice President Rob Manfred announced that “Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the [Braun] decision.” Manfred was one of the three arbitrators on the panel that decided the Braun case (Manfred voted against Braun), and his public disagreement with the decision is (as Maury Brown so perfectly put it) “bashing on a process that MLB collective bargained for, put in place, agreed to, and went forward with.”

There hasn’t been much about the process in the Braun case that has gone the way it should have gone.

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CC Opts In

Good news for Yankees fans: CC Sabathia has signed an extension to remain a New York Yankee. The details of the extension are not known at this point.

Sabathia announced the extension himself, on Twitter and in a video you can see here. It’s nice to hear that CC wants to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career.

UPDATE: ESPN reports that Sabathia’s contract has been extended for an extra year and an additional $30 million, taking the deal through 2016. The deal also contains a vesting option for $25 million in 2017 with a $5-million buyout. The 2017 option automatically vests unless Sabathia goes down with a left shoulder injury.

Mike Axisa at RAB calls this deal a “best case scenario” for the Yanks. I agree. I think it’s cause for celebration for Yankee fans. Continue reading CC Opts In

A Rational Goodbye to the 2011 Season

It hurts. It hurts for the Yankees to lose in the playoffs and for their season to end. I once knew a therapist who said that sports were a leading cause of depression among men – trailing behind events like losing a loved one or being fired from one’s job. I take these losses seriously.

I also know that the closer your team comes to winning it all, the harder it is to have them lose. I remember 2001. I know this might sound like self-entitled nonsense to fans of teams like the Cubs who haven’t sniffed a World Championship in eons. But every Yankee fan is also a fan of less successful teams. My California Golden Bears haven’t seen a Rose Bowl since Eisenhower was President, but it didn’t hurt that much when they gave up 29 unanswered points to Oregon last night.

So we fans are hurting, and now is the time of year when we can most be forgiven some irrational behavior. But let’s resist. We are Yankee fans, the fans of the greatest franchise in any sport, and I expect better from us.

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Chaos

I’ve emerged from yesterday’s Greatest Day of Baseball Ever with a sense of fear and shock. Baseball is a great game, in the same sense that a god of wrath and retribution can be a great god.

How do we understand the Baseball Prospectus calculation that when we entered September, the Red Sox had a 99.6% chance of making the playoffs? That the Red Sox’s failure to make the playoffs is an event we’d expect to see once every 250 years? Combine this with FanGraphs calculation that at one point in last night’s Yankees game, the Rays had only a 0.3% chance of winning – does that mean that the Rays’ comeback was of a magnitude you’d expect to see once every 333 games?

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The Dodgers Bankruptcy: A Q&A

As I reported here yesterday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers and four affiliated companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday morning in Delaware Bankruptcy Court. The Dodgers’ mess is now in the hands of a bankruptcy judge located roughly 2,800 miles from Dodger Stadium.

Last week I wrote at length on why Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt should be removed as owner of the Dodgers. Absent the bankruptcy filing, Major League Baseball would probably have seized control of the Dodgers later this week, once McCourt failed to meet his June 30 payroll. But the bankruptcy filing changes everything.

To explain what’s going on, I’ll answer questions I’ve seen asked in the media and on the internet.

With the bankruptcy filing in place, what happens now?

Let’s talk first about what doesn’t happen now. The Dodgers’ bankruptcy filing imposes an “automatic stay”, temporarily preventing nearly all action that might otherwise be taken by creditors against a company in bankruptcy. The automatic stay provides a debtor with a breathing spell. It buys time. As Maury Brown of bizofbaseball.com said today, it puts the team into a “holding pattern”.

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Dodgers File Bankruptcy


The Los Angeles Dodgers and four affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy this morning in Delaware Bankruptcy Court. In a statement, Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt stated that the filing was done “in order to protect the franchise financially and provide a path that will enable the Club to consummate a media transaction and capitalize the team.”

McCourt also blamed MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for forcing the Dodgers to file bankruptcy, claiming that Selig “turned his back on the Dodgers” and “knowingly and intentionally expose[d] the Dodgers to financial risk.”

McCourt appears to have obtained an offer of $150 million of “debtor in possession” (DIP) financing from JP Morgan Chase to provide the Dodgers with the cash needed to get through the bankruptcy. The financing must be approved by the Bankruptcy Court before it can become effective. If approved, JP Morgan Chase would obtain a “super-priority” status, insuring that it would be paid ahead of most other claims against the Dodgers in the bankruptcy.

I will post more here as soon as the dust settles. But a few quick and preliminary notes follow the jump.

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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. Selig can approve a proposed contract between Fox Television and the Los Angeles Dodgers, effectively allowing Frank McCourt to continue to run the team. Or Selig can veto the deal, initiating what should be an ugly court battle with McCourt over who controls the Dodgers’ franchise.

Here’s the situation in a nutshell: the Dodgers have a tentative agreement in place with Fox, where Fox would pay something like $3 billion in exchange for the TV rights to Dodgers games for the next 17 years (though there’s some dispute that the deal is this rich). The Fox deal includes a $385 million “loan” to the Dodgers, with a bit more than $200 million of this loan going to the Dodgers, $80 million going to pay down unspecified indebtedness, and the remaining $93.5 million going to the McCourts individually or to the cost of a proposed settlement of Frank McCourt’s divorce case with his ex-wife Jamie. If baseball approves the Fox agreement, then the proposed settlement would require a one-day trial in August before Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon to determine if Frank McCourt owns the team outright, or if the team is community property and must be sold. If baseball rejects the Fox deal, then Frank and Jamie McCourt’s proposed divorce settlement is nullified, we’re back to square one, and we’re in for an orgy of litigation.

There is no doubt: Commissioner Selig should reject the Dodgers-Fox contract, seize control of the Dodgers, and sell the team to a responsible owner who will (with the grateful help of millions of my fellow left coasters) restore the team to its former greatness. Selig must act to prevent Frank McCourt from continuing to plunder the team. Selig must act before the team is saddled with even greater debt, while the team’s reputation can still be salvaged and the team is still marketable to a worthy owner.

The issues involved extend beyond the Dodgers, and affect everyone in baseball, including the Yankees. What’s at stake is whether baseball’s Commissioner can protect the “best interests of baseball” against the determined opposition of an individual and greedy owner. What’s at stake is whether the Commissioner can act to prevent a single owner from bringing chaos to a flagship franchise, before that franchise is stripped of all value and the cost of restoring order becomes so prohibitive that the Yankees and the other teams in baseball would have to foot the bill.

My case for the termination of the ownership of Frank McCourt follows after the jump.

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Happy Birthday, Eduardo Nunez!

There are a number of story lines I could focus on tonight, following the Yankees 12-4 victory over the Texas Rangers:

  • the Yankees’ sixth win this season, their third straight regular season series win (regardless of the outcome of tomorrow afternoon’s game) and second straight 12 run performance against the Texas Rangers, the team that eliminated the Yanks from the playoffs last year
  • Mark Teixeira’s right-lefty two home run performance, tying him with Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista for the Major League lead
  • the three other home runs hit by the Yankees tonight (putting the team at 103 HRs for the season, a pace that would shatter the existing team season home run record held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners, if the Yanks can keep it up)
  • another so-so start for Ivan Nova, but good enough for the win
  • the solid work of bullpen replacements Luis Ayala, Cory Wade and Jeff Marquez (no runs, one walk and 3 hits allowed in 3.1 innings of work)

But in recognition of Eduardo Nunez turning 24 years old today, I’ll focus on Nunez, the guy the Yankees are counting on for at least the next two weeks to replace starting shortstop Derek Jeter.

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