Update: Frank "Never Surrender" McCourt will vigorously explore his legal remedies. See below.
Remember that fuss last week about the Dodgers' divorce settlement? Well, forget about it.
Major League Baseball has rejected the Dodgers' proposed TV contract. That renders the settlement moot, clears the way for a bloody legal showdown between MLB and Frank McCourt, and proves yet again that Frank is completely delusional.
Last week, Frank seemed genuinely to believe that there was a decent chance that MLB would approve the Fox TV contract -- which he desperately needs to stay solvent and make payroll at the end of the month. Ten divorce lawyers spent hour after billable hour hashing out the fine points of an agreement that was only operative if Commissioner Bud Selig blessed the TV deal.
This despite every indication that Selig would reject it. It's hard to draw any conclusion from this other than that Frank has lost contact with reality.
And looking back, this has been a problem throughout the divorce case. Whenever a rational person would recognize the weakness of his hand and fold, Frank has raised the ante. Clearly he believes in his own superhuman ability to win unwinnable battles and somehow come out of this as the sole owner of the Dodgers.
So where do we go now? Presumably, back to court. Frank will sue baseball, the divorce case will drag on, and this will just keep going until either Frank wins or he exhausts every conceivable option in defeat.
Update: In a statement, Steve Susman, Frank's attorney,* says he plans to "explore vigorously our options and remedies with respect to
Commissioner Selig's rejection of the proposed FOX transaction and our
commitment to protect the long-term best interests of the Los Angeles
Update 2: Frank thinks that MLB can seize the team, but cannot take the related corporate entities that control the Dodger Stadium parking lot and collect Dodger ticket revenue. MLB thinks that's bullshit, and they'll be taking the whole thing, thank you very much.
Since Tom Schieffer took over as Bud Selig's proconsul in April, it's been all but inevitable that Frank and Major League Baseball would end up in court. The fight will not be simple or quick, but at least we're getting on with it already.
The full statements from Bud Selig and Steve Susman follow.
"Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I have informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today in a detailed letter that I cannot approve the club's proposed transaction with FOX. This decision was reached after a full and careful consideration of the terms of the proposed transaction and the club's current circumstances. It is my conclusion that this proposed transaction with FOX would not be in the best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise, the game of Baseball and the millions of loyal fans of this historic club.
"Mr. McCourt has been provided with an expansive analysis of my reasons for rejecting this proposed transaction. Critically, the transaction is structured to facilitate the further diversion of Dodgers assets for the personal needs of Mr. McCourt. Given the magnitude of the transaction, such a diversion of assets would have the effect of mortgaging the future of the franchise to the long-term detriment of the club and its fans.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"As I have said before, we owe it to the legion of loyal Dodger fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future. This transaction would not accomplish these goals." (Emphasis added.)
"We are extremely disappointed with the Commissioner's rejection of the proposed FOX transaction which would inject $235 million into the Los Angeles Dodgers. As Commissioner Selig well knows, this transaction would make the Dodgers financially secure for the long term and one of the best capitalized teams in Major League Baseball.
"For weeks Major League Baseball has consistently made public pronouncements asserting that Jamie McCourt's agreement of the Fox transaction also was needed; that the Court adjudicating the McCourt divorce grant its approval of the transaction; and the Dodger organization provide all data requested by Major League Baseball to satisfy the so-called investigation ordered by Commissioner Selig last April - the latter also being the excuse he gave at that time for delaying his approval of the proposed FOX transaction.
"All the requirements for the Commissioner to approve the FOX transaction were put in place by last Friday: Frank and Jamie McCourt entered into an agreement based on the proposed transaction; the Court ordered, among other things, that the FOX transaction is "in the best interest of the Los Angeles Dodgers and should be consummated immediately;" and all information requested by Major League Baseball under its so-called investigation has been provided by the Dodgers.
"Commissioner Selig's letter of rejection is not only a disappointment, but worse, is potentially destructive to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Major League Baseball. Accordingly, we plan to explore vigorously our options and remedies with respect to Commissioner Selig's rejection of the proposed FOX transaction and our commitment to protect the long-term best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers."