Has Frank McCourt finally worn out his welcome in LA and MLB

Dodgers Owner Appears on Local Radio Shows, Finances in Big Trouble

The more I hear Frank McCourt speak the more I really believe that he just doesn’t understand the depth of the problem he has created for himself. He keeps talking about how he has changed, but what strikes me as the most troubling comment he continues to make is that it was only after his sons told him he needed to defend himself that he began speaking publicly.

Surely the tragic opening day beating of Giants fan Brian Stow would be reason enough for Frank to make a public statement, yet he remained silent. Then Major League Baseball announced they were taking over the daily operations of the Dodgers, Frank responded to that with an email. But when his sons tell him dad you need to go public to defend yourself then all of a sudden McCourt is the most media available owner this side of Mark Cuban.

Today it was an appearance on ESPN 710 in Los Angeles on the Mason and Ireland show. McCourt really struggled in the interview, especially when asked questions by callers he stumbled, stuttered, and avoided pointed questions like a seasoned politician. He urged fans to give him a second chance, yet he side-stepped the question about the $30 million FOX recently lent him.

He also called official court documents into question when asked why he took over $100 million dollars from Dodgers revenue for personal use. He said $50 million was paid to he and ex-wife Jamie over 7 years, but the other $50 million is a loan from another real estate entity. So either the financial documents that were presented in court during the McCourt divorce were wrong, or Frank is not telling the truth.

Then if things couldn’t get any worse a report from the Wall Street Journal surfaced that is bad news for the Dodgers, according to WSJ:

The Los Angeles Dodgers may not have enough cash to cover their expenses at the end of this month when a round to paychecks to players are due, according to two people familiar with the team’s financial problems. The team also certainly will face insolvency by July, they said.

McCourt was then asked specifically about this issue as he appeared on another local radio show and disturbingly he did not refute the claim that the Dodgers will be insolvent by July if they do not get the money from the proposed deal with FOX McCourt is waiting on MLB to sign off on. Wow. The guy that has created this huge mess, dug the Dodgers to the brink of insolvency wants a second chance.

Sorry if I’m just a little skeptical that selling off the TV rights for the team for the next 17 years may not be the best idea. Am I the only one who thinks that 10 years from now the Dodgers TV rights may be worth more than they are currently, yet the Dodgers will be locked into a rate agreed upon in 2011.

Frank you had your chance, you’ve managed to mess one of the most respected organizations in all of sports to the brink of insolvency and now your asking for a second chance. Why would we as Dodger fans not think that you would continue down the same path that has led to the mess that the organization is currently in.

Oh and on another note the Dodgers activated Jay Gibbons from the DL as Marcus Thames is supposedly going to miss the next 4-6 weeks, just what the team needs another career journeyman who will hit .200 like the rest of the Dodgers hitters not named Kemp, Ethier, Carroll and Uribe.

Somehow now when Vin Scully says “It’s time for Dodger baseball” I just don’t fell the same level of excitement as I usually do.

Listen to the entire McCourt interview by clicking here

***Update*** Since this was originally published there have been more bad decisions by McCourt and they continue to upset MLB executives. Frank McCourt’s first decision after Major League Baseball took over daily operations, hire Steve Soboroff, so far so good, for Dodger fans at least.

Soboroff decided to give Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports an interview yesterday and he demonstrated why Frank McCourt is in over his head as an MLB owner, Soboroff failed miserably during the attempt.

Some of Steve’s comments which no doubt helped endear the Dodgers even further with MLB:

“We’re getting the death penalty for, maybe there were some traffic tickets.”

Almost $500 million in traffic tickets, and counting if you add up the debt load Mccourt has built up since taking over in 2004, something he hasn’t addressed once during his 2011 World Media Tour. Strike one.

“If they’re doing an investigation, where are the people? Unless they’ve already figured out the answer and this whole thing is a rope-a-dope.

MLB has asked for the complex Dodgers financial records in a specific format, paper form or on a compact disc, which should take no more than a day with the professionals the Dodgers have in their various departments.  Yet Frank had the Dodgers place them in a virtual data room, where restrictions were attached. Strike two.

Tom Schieffer recently observed – light-heartedly – that there was too much information to digest, due to the numerous sub-companies, LLC’s, and other multiple entities McCourt has turned the Dodgers into. All in an order to move dollars from here to there to avoid taxes and fuel an extravagant lifestyle, while hurting the product on the field. Thus their current financial crisis.

Mccourt’s Thursday’s media tour took a different tone yesterday, he had to personally apologize to MLB for Soboroff. Courtesy ofSteve Dilbeck at the LA Times:

Dodgers Vice Chairman Steve Soboroff told several media outlets (Yahoo) Thursday that Tom Schieffer, the trustee appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig to run the team, did not respond promptly to a request for upgraded stadium security. The allegation outraged Major League Baseball officials, for whom Schieffer produced an email in which he granted authorization two minutes after the request from Dodgers general counsel Sam Fernandez.

The Dodgers are moving toward the inevitable, Dodger fans hope, and they have their Owner, his Ex-Wife, 4 boys, and irresponsible management of the Dodgers finances to blame for the spectacle they have become. Tim Brown said it best so I’ll let you enjoy his version.

The Dodgers are by definition a large-market, high-revenue franchise. And yet, they rank 12th in payroll…because of that, the current liquidity issues are puzzling to baseball. The majority of teams are flush this early in the season, when season-ticket payments are arriving

Season ticket sales are down from over 30K to roughly 17K, and I’ll give you one guess why? (See above)

The notion that a high-revenue, low-payroll team would run aground in May – despite a $30 million loan – has perplexed baseball’s analysts. Additionally, that McCourt’s solution is to pull television revenue from three years out (the Dodgers’ current deal with Fox runs 2 ½ more years), has not instilled confidence in the commissioner’s office.

The Dodgers should have been stronger yesterday, it (MLB)believes. They should be stronger today.

Here here. Not only are they borrowing out 2.5 years to get the approx $300 million, McCourt needs to survive, they are selling their 2025 TV rights at 2011 rates. Am I the only one who thinks that this is a terrible idea? Does not inflation apply to TV deals like it does everything else? Strike 3?

Brown postulates typically what would happen if the Dodgers can’t make their payroll at the end of May:

MLB will, thereby keeping the players from filing default notices and becoming free agents…As a condition of assisting McCourt, likely would ask him to put the club up for sale, as it required of Tom Hicks last year in Texas. If McCourt resisted, he would be found in violation of the sport’s constitution. According to that document, failure to meet such financial obligations is grounds for terminating his ownership of the franchise.

Sorry Frank I feel for you, I really do, but how could it have come to this, without a tremendous effort on your part? But this is about OUR Dodgers not YOUR second chance. One could argue no owner has ruined his team in so short of a span in any sport. I like what MLB spokesman Rob Manfred had to say on yesterday’s drama:

“The commissioner is committed to a prompt and thorough investigation, and as soon as the Los Angeles Dodgers comply with the commissioners directives to produce documents in acceptable form that investigation will proceed with all possible speed. This is not about personalities. This is about the future of the Dodgers.”

Let’s hope the team can get healthy, stay in the race, then go on a 2010 Ranger-esque run.

Tags: Frank McCourt Jay Gibbons Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball Marcus Thames

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