Today: Jul 23, 2024

Sports Commentary: Divorce leads to MLB take over of the Dodgers

Pat Longobardi, Sports Writer:
Last Wednesday, Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig took over control of the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner, Frank McCourt, who has owned the team since 2004.
In that short time, he owes more than $400 million dollars ofdebt. He is also going through a public and lengthy divorce from his wife, Jamie, who argued for 50 percent of the team. Most recently, a Dodgers fan was severely beaten on opening night, in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium, after a game against rivals and defending champions, the San Francisco Giants.
Every team goes through tough times in some way. I think the league made the right decision to step in. The Dodgers are one of the most historical and popular teams in the league with a lengthy history that includes players like Jackie Robinson, Orel Hershiser, Steve Garvey, Kirk Gibson and Eric Gagne, and manager
Tommy Lasorda. The Dodgers have made 24 playoff appearances
and won six championships. They are still a top team, making the National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009, and are now in a transition under a new manager, Don Mattingly. Selig had no choice but to step in because the Dodgers had more focus on debts and a divorce without a focus on baseball.
McCourt reached the league limit for loans, and received loans from the previous owners, Fox Entertainment.
This was the third time in one year Selig had to get involved in a team’s operations because of financial troubles. Selig took over the Texas Rangers last year from owner Tom Hicks, due to many bank loans and hitting the league limit for financial loans. Selig eventually guided the selling of the team to a group including
Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan. Texas would then make it to the World Series, and are considered a contender again this season.
Selig also recently loaned money to the New York Mets. They are dealing with a $1 billion lawsuit by trustees in the Bernie Madoff scheme, and low attendance, since the team is not playing well. Owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon are also still seeking a minority owner in the team.
Call it beginner’s luck, but in Texas it is the kind of leadership and action that puts teams in a better position towards bigger things.
What amazes me is that these problems are happening to teams in major sports markets. If an owner, especially in these popular markets, is having trouble, then they should have enough courage to acknowledge the problem. Why would someone jeopardize their team and reputation? They can’t bankroll a team that many fans and sponsors support every year because of off-the-field problems. Having some action from the league is best when teams go down these routes. When owners get involved in juggling the reputations of the team, and the league, then that is when their motives will get called into question. As a Mets fan, I hope they are not the next team taken over by force.

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