In April of this year, one of my favorite things that anyone has ever done ever in the history of everything happened. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that he was seizing control of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt.
Well, Selig didn’t actually take the team from Frank (yet!), but he appointed a monitor (babysitter) to oversee the financial operations of the team, and any significant expenditures made by the team must now be approved externally.
Even though Selig looks more and more like the Crypt Keeper these days, I like to think his preferred course of action with Frank would be the Capone “enthusiasms” speech from “The Untouchables.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers are considered one of the premier franchises in all of sports — with fans throughout the world and a storied tradition unlike any other team, with a wide variety of triumphs and tragedies. For almost 50 years, the team was owned by the O’Malley family, who, by all accounts, ran a pretty classy organization.
The team was sold by the O’Malley family to Rupert Murdoch in 1998, and then he turned around and sold it to McCourt in 2003 — I assume for a healthy profit, because that’s how Rupert rolls.
There are some people who you can tell are horrible people just by looking at them — like Dennis Rodman, Angelina Jolie, Screech from “Saved by the Bell,” two of the Jonas Brothers and most guys with ponytails. And then when these types start talking, any doubts you might have had about their horribleness evaporates and you are certain that before you stands a truly dreadful person.
When Frank McCourt was announced as the new owner with his wife Jamie, they went to such great lengths to make it sound like they really cared about the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles. But it all just seemed so fake – too fake actually, even in a city that is almost entirely built upon a foundation of fakeness. And I hate people that are fake — just like NeNe Leakes from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” (I know, I know — I shouldn’t be watching this show, but I do) who says, “I hate fake people.” Granted, she changes her hair color every week and just recently got a boob job.
At that time, Frank also announced that he was going to make his wife the CEO of the team (or some other ridiculously way-too-high position for her). Look, I’ve got nothing against women in sports management — there are probably some women who know a lot about baseball. But I’ve got a toaster oven that knows more about baseball than Jamie McCourt.
And how did these two Bostonians actually pay for this team that wasn’t really the team they wanted but was a baseball team and that’s all that mattered, because how cool would it be to own a baseball team? On credit. Yep, 100 percent on credit. They didn’t even do some sort of down payment; they charged the whole thing.
Some of you are too young and some of you are too old and some of you are too not feminine to remember the episode of “Facts of Life” where Natalie (the heavy one — well, they all ended up heavy; so I mean the one that started out heavy) got a credit card. I can tell you, it did not go well. Jo, Blair, Tootie and even Mrs. G had to step in and help poor, misguided Natalie.
Credit is part of the American way. At least, right now it is. And back in 2003 when Frank “bought” the Dodgers, the banks were going bananas in their new, unregulated world of seemingly unlimited credit. But, as Natalie and most Americans learned: When you buy stuff on credit, eventually you do have to pay.
Frank and Jamie split up about 18 months ago, and they have spent a lot of time bickering through the media and in the courts about which of them is worse. He claims he owns the team. She claims they co-own the team. And it’s costing them a fortune in legal fees. Fortunately for them, they have been bleeding massive amounts of money out of the Dodgers over the last seven years, so they can afford to continue this battle of dimwits.
Selig made the almost-unprecedented move to oversee the Dodgers after hearing that McCourt had secretly set up a loan of $30 million from Fox Sports to cover team expenses. And just recently, Frank was able to further embarrass himself and the Dodgers franchise when he got cash advances from sponsors to cover payroll.
As part of all the dirt that has come out, Frank has been accused of personally taking around $125 million from the team since he and his wife took over. Though he claims it was actually only $100 million, and he promises he won’t do it again.
Only $100 million?!?!
I have to wonder what the ownership groups that lost out to Frank back in 2003 are thinking now: “Sorry, we were thinking of using actual money that actually existed and wasn’t some future hope of having money.”
Billionaire Mark Cuban isn’t allowed to own a Major League Baseball team because the other owners are worried about how much of a non-conformist he is and that he will be difficult and demanding. But Frank and his wife were handed one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports.
And now the Dodgers are a mess. The major league team is mediocre. Their minor league system is drying up. They can barely pay the team and employees. They have public relations problems all over the place and, even with massively discounted ticket offers, their attendance is down.
Frank is fighting to keep the Dodgers. He is currently urging Selig to approve a long-term deal between the Dodgers and Fox where the Dodgers would get $300 million up front that will “solve all the team’s money problems.” Okay, Frank, sure. But only if you triple-super-promise it’s a good deal and you won’t just run off with the money.
Frank says he believes that Selig is trying to force him to sell the Dodgers. You think, Frank? How did you figure that one out? Is it because literally every single human person on this planet other than yourself wants you to sell the team and go away?
And please take General Manager Ned Colletti with you, Frank. I don’t want to hear any of that “I was just following orders” stuff, Ned. The free agent contracts you’ve been giving out and the trades you’ve been making are fire-able offenses in themselves. Sorry, pal, everyone goes. Time to clean house.
Not so fast, Bud Selig, there’s blood on your hands here, too. You picked this guy and his wife. Bad move, Bud. There were other options and you invited this guy to the party, and he threw up in the punch bowl and dropped a deuce in the pool.
And you just recently approved the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane and Forbes magazine estimated that 50 percent of that money was credit-based. Maybe this is the way things go now in this American age of credit. I guess we can say that at least it’s only 50 percent credit this time and not 100 percent.
The Dodgers fans and the citizens of Los Angeles deserve a better owner. Come on, Bud. It’s time to do the right thing and fix this. I think we’ve all seen enough of Frank McCourt and he certainly isn’t getting the hint.
Get rid of him. If you’re uncomfortable with this, I know a guy who knows a guy. Very discreet.