Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt Makes June 15 Payroll...Plus Cuban 2.0

Greetings Dodger Nation. I’m sure the words in the title are less than thrilling for many of you, based on the overwhelming feedback I got from my post yesterday about Mark Cuban potentially owning the Dodgers. Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times has two articles up today one of which confirms that the beleaguered Dodgers owner has:

Met the June 15 payroll by juggling payment schedules

Mr. McCourt also spent nine hours in talks with his ex-wife in an attempt to settle their divorce. However they were unable to reach an aggreement and discussions will continue, Shaikin points out:

It is unclear how Frank McCourt would finance a settlement if Selig does not approve the Fox contract

One thing that is clear however, is just the mention of Mark Cuban as a possible owner of the Dodgers, if Mr. McCourt is indeed forced to sell the team, brought more attention and feedback to Lasorda’s Lair than any other topic ever.

I received numerous emails and messages from fans who were absolutely giddy about the prospect of Cuban taking over the Dodgers. In fact 56 people clicked the ‘like’ icon for Facebook at the bottom of the post, the most ‘likes’ I’d had for an article prior to yesterday was 10.  So to say I received positive feedback from Dodger fans regarding the article would be an understatement.

I also received a bunch of messages from other Dodger fans who like the idea but felt that there was no way Bud Selig or other MLB owners would allow someone like Cuban into their club, even if a spot does open up. I also surprisingly received an email from the Dodgers themselves indicating some folks were less than pleased with my recent posts about Mr. McCourt, particularly the article yesterday.

Needless to say I was shocked that anyone in the Dodgers organization even read any of my articles. So I feel the need to reiterate a couple of key points I have tried to consistently convey throughout Major League Baseball’s takeover of the Dodgers day to day operations. I spent a week at Camel Back Ranch during spring training and then attended two games at Dodger Stadium as a member of the press, and every single person I met or communicated with prior to, during, or after my visits was extremely personable and couldn’t have treated me any better.

So regardless of the outcome of MLB’s findings, and by now you all know how I think things will play out, one thing I really hope is that the current Dodger employees I have interacted with aren’t out of work if Mr. McCourt is forced to sell the team. I’ve met with some fantastic people during my brief tenure blogging about the Dodgers and it would be a shame for them to be affected negatively if MLB forces the sale of the club.

My biggest struggle as I develop as a writer is I am a lifelong die-hard Dodger fan, and it’s a constant struggle for me to not allow my fan perspective and personal feelings to come out in my work. I have always made a significant effort to base all of my articles on factual data. However, sometimes the facts become so frustrating from a fans perspective, that the tone of my writing changes from neutral to passionately negative, but I will never apologize for being passionate about what I write, as long as it’s based on fact and not just personal opinion.

The whole idea of Cuban even becoming involved with the Dodgers came from Cuban himself back in 2009 when LA published a copy of an email from him which said buying the Dodgers from the McCourt’s was of interest to him even though the club was not for sale. His email said:

“If a unique situation came up where I could contribute capital to buy out a majority shareholder and gain control with  existing shareholders or note holders staying in place, I would consider it.

So I decided to do a little more research on the subject that brought such an overwhelming response yesterday and today, by doing a three word Google search, Mark, Cuban, Dodgers. Here are some of the the comments from the most prominent sources, discounting sites like one named Lasorda’s Lair, from April 21 the day after MLB seized control of the team to yesterday. And if you think I’m harsh when it comes to discussing McCourt, check out how these folks feel.

From Mike Lopresti at USA Today on April 21st:

The franchise means Frank and Jamie McCourt, divorce court warriors who, if they sink, apparently intend to take everything down with them, including the pine tar rags…The owners apparently had a proclivity for spending portions of the Dodger take on hair stylists, plush accommodations and other basic needs of the rich and infamous.

But here’s a fact of life in the fast lane. An owner can lose games, lose money, lose players, lose popularity among the patrons in the cheap seats. All that is survivable. What an owner can’t do is lose the trust of the commissioner.

So Selig, quite rightly, has executed a bloodless coup, while old Dodgers everywhere look on in sad amazement. “Wow,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said upon hearing the news. “I guess it’s not the same Dodgers anymore. Selig will likely need to find a new owner for the team, sooner or later. But who…Mark Cuban?

April 26th, Michael Ventre with NBC Sports in an article titled “Could Mark Cuban Save The Dodgers?”:

Bud Selig has an uncomfortable situation on his hands. He damaged the Los Angeles Dodgers the minute he allowed Frank and Jamie McCourt to buy the storied franchise with little in the bank. Now the McCourts are in the midst of a venomous divorce, Selig has seized control of the team and it’s only a matter of time before a permanent new owner is sought.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be Mark Cuban. It could be any suitor who can provide for the Dodgers in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. But after the McCourts finally make their tar-and-feathers exit, MLB has to approve the sale of the franchise to somebody who understands what the Dodgers mean to baseball, and what they can do for the game in the future.

Again these are reporters from some of the largest and most reputable sites. I found an article from T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times on May 2nd:

Talked on Monday night to Mark Cuban…the guy many fans believe can save the Dodgers if allowed to buy the team. He’s more Hollywood than FrankJamie ever were, and they were really working at it. Cuban also has lots of money, which makes him different too. He went after the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers; the feeling in most quarters was he lost out because he’s not Selig’s kind of owner. We know all about the kind of owner Selig approves, and how’s that going?

Someone needs to breathe some life into the Dodgers, and who better than someone with a big mouth, big pockets and who would be a big pain for Bud Selig?

Steve Dilbeck also with the L.A. Times wrote another article about Cuban on May 3rd:

Mark Cuban to the rescue, Mark Cuban to the rescue…his is a popular name among those counting the moments until Frank McCourt is shown the road and Major League Baseball puts the team up for sale. I almost wish Cuban would buy the Dodgers, just to witness his give-and-take with Simers. I doubt, however, when Simers asked to interview Cuban he would ever give the McCourt response of last spring: “In your … dreams.”

Joanne C. Gerstner of the New York Times on May 3rd:

“It’s too early to say,” Cuban said in an e-mail, sent to The Los Angeles Times for a Feb. 5, 2011, article. “Let’s see what happens if and when it (Dodgers) goes up for sale. … I’d be more than happy to discuss it. But I’m done chasing and bidding on baseball teams.”

Lewis Brewster from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin yesterday:

There undoubtedly are plenty of Cuban detractors…but from a fan’s viewpoint, would you rather have a person like Cuban running the team or a guy like Frank McCourt lining his own pockets?  Cuban is all about his team, the NBA champion Mavericks. He’s all about giving the fans in Dallas a quality team. That’s been absent from the Dodgers since the O’Malley family sold its interest. Since then, the team has been treated like a cash cow by Fox and McCourt.

Finally Jill Painter from the L.A. Daily News in an article about Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey joining forces with investors to make a run at the club if it’s for sale, in which Hershiser said:

I’ve kept my distance from the organization… the Dodgers are owned and operated by other people. They’ve been doing it their way, and unfortunately it’s gone the direction it has for the McCourt’s and the city. The fan base deserve better…the Los Angeles Dodgers are part of the fabric of Los Angeles. Their pride and their heart have been hurt by what’s gone on and what’s happening. It will take a large effort to restore that and I’m pulling for McCourt and MLB.

It hurts my heart. It’s about restoring the confidence of the fan base and significant pride of the city. The Lakers have done a great job there. The Dodgers need to regain their form. Not in an old-style way but in a way that in my mind, I see them progressing and reaching back to the past.

Talk about class, Hershiser summed up the Dodgers situation in a manner I’m sure most fans would agree, and he did so saying he was actually pulling for McCourt and MLB to turn it around, while everyone else was taking shots and blasting McCourt. There are two important dates coming up this month that will more than likely be the turning points of this messy situation.

Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times wrote today that unless the McCourt’s reach a settlement:

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon is set to hear two motions June 22. Frank McCourt has asked Gordon to rule that Jamie has no say in the television deal; Jamie McCourt has asked the judge to order the immediate sale of the Dodgers.

Bud Selig has indicated that MLB expects to complete their investigation of the Dodgers finances also on June 22nd, however, just because the investigation is complete Selig may take weeks to digest the information and make his decision. It also seems unlikely that either motion would be granted on the 22nd court date.

So the Dodgers June 30th payroll, which triples due to deferred contract payments to Manny Ramirez and others, is the most likely date where a decision will be reached. Sources have told Shaikin that there appears to be no chance that McCourt can make the June 30th payroll which would mean:

That a confrontation between McCourt and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig over the future of the team could loom by month’s end.

As I watch Dee Gordon make brilliant defensive plays, and wreak havoc on the base-paths with his blazing speed, I really can’t wait for the end of the month, to at least have an idea of how all of this off the field ‘stuff’ is going to wind up. But even though June 30th may lead to a decision, somehow I feel like we’re still looking at a long drawn out legal battle between Mr. McCourt and MLB regardless of what happens.

Tags: Bud Selig Dee Gordon Frank McCourt Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball Orel Hershiser Steve Garvey

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