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Friday, April 22, 2011

The Dodgers

Major League Baseball took over operation of the Los Angeles Dodgers this week.  MLB Commissioner Bud Selig felt Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt is financially unstable.

McCourt is going through a rather protracted, nasty and costly divorce.  McCourt and his soon to be ex-wife reportedly diverted $ 100 million of Dodgers money to fund their extravagant lifestyle.  McCourt had to borrow $30 million to meet the first payroll of the season.

One of McCourt's underlings said Selig's move was unnecessary.  The Dodgers just sold broadcast rights to FOX for a ton of money.  The team was in good shape.

Bud Selig is conservative.  I don't think he would make such a drastic move unless it was absolutely necessary.

Isn't it sad that we got to this point?   The Dodgers were on the upper tier of American sports franchises.  It's a short list-- the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers.  Admittedly, I'm biased, but I'd also put the Pittsburgh Steelers on the list.

Frank McCourt made his money by owning and operating parking lots in Boston.  A parking lot is different than a baseball team.  You have to be smart to make money, but money doesn't necessarily make you smart.

As a baseball fan, I sincerely hope the Dodgers eventually wind up in the hands of someone who will treat the franchise as one of baseball's crown jewels.

Yes, I did say "crown jewel," even though this was the team ripped from its Brooklyn home more than fifty years ago.   There was more than enough blame to go around back then.  Walter O'Malley wanted out, and New York City could have kept the team if it gave O'Malley the land he wanted for a new stadium.

I should add that Commissioner Selig announced yesterday a plan to expand the playoffs from eight to ten teams.  Mistake.  Big mistake.  Baseball in unique in that only the best teams make the playoffs, unlike those free for alls that make the NHL and NBA regular season irrelevant.  The NFL playoffs have even become a bit much.  I hope baseball doesn't travel down that same path.