SPORTS WATCH
Big Trouble in Chavez Ravine
by Gus Jarvis
Jun 29, 2011 | 1980 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a Colorado Rockies fan, I must admit I feel a certain amount of jealousy for other cities that have a Major League Baseball franchise with a storied past, both within that city and in the game of baseball. The Cubs, the Yankees and the Dodgers have rich histories. They are the franchises that make this game special.

Not to say that the Rockies’ history, dating back to 1992, doesn’t have its share of memorable moments and lore (remember the Blake Street Bombers?). It just isn’t quite the same as a team with a history like the Red Sox or Yankees. That is why, even though they aren’t my team, it is still incredibly painful to watch a jackass owner like Frank McCourt absolutely ruining the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s sad that in such a short amount of time, since McCourt became owner in 2004, he and his wife have been able to do their damnedest to annihilate one of baseball’s great franchises.

In the latest twist in this depressing story, the cash-needy Frank McCourt filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, in a move that will get him a quick injection of green so he can make the team’s payroll, as well as deepen the fight against himself and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

With a judge’s approval, according to a report in the New York Times, the bankruptcy filing will give the Dodgers somewhere around $60 million in financing to cover the team’s expenses for the next month. Of course, McCourt believes Selig wronged him last week, when he rejected a television deal proposed by the team that was worth $2.5 billion. McCourt thought he had a deal with Fox to solve his cash flow problems, but Selig said no.

From Selig’s point of view, McCourt can’t be trusted anymore to run the Dodgers, and another TV deal will only put more money into McCourt’s pockets. Eventually, Selig surely believes, McCourt will piss that money away, as well. Let us not forget: McCourt is in the middle of nasty divorce proceedings with his wife, Jamie, who wants half of everything. Since McCourt has owned the Dodgers, he has “only” sunk the team into debt to the tune of $400 million. I can’t say I blame Selig on this one. McCourt, and the circus surrounding him, simply cannot be trusted.

“To date, the ideas and proposals that I have been asked to consider have not been consistent with the best interests of baseball,” Selig said. “The action taken today by Mr. McCourt does nothing but inflict further harm to this historic franchise.”

Acting like his team’s savior, McCourt rushed to the defense.

“We brought the commissioner a media-rights deal that would have solved the cash-flow challenge I presented to him a year ago, when his leadership team called us a ‘model franchise,’ ” McCourt said in a statement published in the Times. “Yet he’s turned his back on the Dodgers, treated us differently, and forced us to the point (where) we find ourselves today.”

Don’t you kind of wish these two grown men were standing before Judge Judy at about 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning during some really good daytime trash TV? Both pleading with Judy to take his side. Both whining. Judy’s temper flaring. It would be great TV. I would call in sick to watch it, that’s for sure.

Unfortunately for McCourt, I believe Judge Judy would side with Selig on this matter, as much of the nation already has. Under most circumstances, Selig is usually the bad guy in baseball; commissioners of all professional sports are bad guys. They hand down fines, represent the game’s Big Money, etc. In this case, I’m with Selig, and it’s because of nothing Selig has done. Instead, it has everything to do with what McCourt has done.

Not only is he going to lose half the team to his wife in a divorce. For the past six years, McCourt has also reportedly paid his two sons six-figure salaries for “consulting” or something, i.e., to do basically nothing for the team. No one exactly knows what the pair did to earn their keep, but they definitely seemed to make a lot of money.

I heard on sports talk radio that the club owes about $41 million in salaries to players who aren’t even playing for the team anymore. That number is more than some teams are paying for players who are still playing. I think about other small market teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays. They are a good team on the field. Off the field, the team can’t make a buck; they constantly struggle to stay afloat. There are a handful of other small-market teams struggling to bring in revenue, and every one of them is in a better financial position than the Dodgers. The Dodgers are a big-name team in a city that loves sports. They should not be in the position they are in, and the reason for their woes is Frank McCourt.

The dude is batshit crazy. A few weeks ago on the Dan Patrick Show, Dan offered an honest interview to McCourt. Here was McCourt’s chance to tell the world that he and the team had serious financial problems, and that changes would be made to fix those problems. Patrick gave him an opportunity to defend himself. Instead, McCourt dodged and wove, carrying on as if nothing was wrong at all. He seems to exist in a Monopoly-money haze: a dream world where debt doesn’t actually matter, and being millions of dollars in the red is no big deal.

Bud Selig knows it. I know it. You know it. Frank McCourt can no longer be the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The sooner he is out of L.A, the better for all baseball fans. Being a Rockies fan, it’s hard to sympathize with Dodger fans, but I really do. I would really have trouble paying $30 to go watch a team I love, knowing that my money is going to McCourt. (Plus, who knows how safe my family will be at the game?)

I suspect attendance at Chavez Ravine this year will be at an all-time low, and that won’t help matters, either. Who in their right mind would give this guy their money?

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