Left:Frank McCourt in the stadium shortly after they acquired the team, in January 2004. Right: Jamie McCourt in Dodger Stadium in 2008. By Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times (Frank McCourt), by Alex Gallardo/Los Angeles Times (Jamie McCourt), © D. Hurst/Alamy (baseball).

A Major-League Divorce

Vanessa Grigoriadis published “A Major League Divorce” in the August issue of  Vanity Fair (2011). Her reporting of events involving Jamie and Frank McCourt’s divorce is a prime example of why Major League baseball should do a far more thorough job of vetting potential buyers of, or investors in, Major League baseball franchises.

Left:Frank McCourt in the stadium shortly after they acquired the team, in January 2004. Right: Jamie McCourt in Dodger Stadium in 2008. By Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times (Frank McCourt), by Alex Gallardo/Los Angeles Times (Jamie McCourt), © D. Hurst/Alamy (baseball).

It is inexcusable that people such as the McCourts, with their irresponsible sense of financial stewardship, should ever be allowed to own even a small portion of a business that enjoys the public trust.

Fortunately, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, in his occasional wise decision-making, has taken over the Los Angeles Dodgers–rescued the team from the McCourts–and appointed Tom Schieffer as trustee of the franchise’s day-to-day activities until a responsible buyer can be found. Schieffer, onetime head of the Texas Rangers and former ambassador to Japan, and then Australia, is an excellent choice. He is a capable, responsible and reasonable administrator.

True, the McCourts are not the only owners who need to be replaced in baseball. Opinions might vary on who should be on the list, but the McCourts would surely end up at the top.

Hope you enjoy Vanessa Grigoriadis’ article. She seems to have grasped the situation as well as anyone.

“The Dodgers are considered one of six or seven marquee franchises in baseball, and it is important for the sport that they be in good hands. They were founded in Brooklyn, in 1883, but left the city 75 years later. The O’Malley family, which owned a stake in the team from the 1940s until the 1990s, had wanted to move from their small and outdated ballpark at Ebbets Field to a plot of land on the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues (in fact, just about the same location where the New Jersey Nets are building their new arena). When city-planning autocrat Robert Moses refused their entreaties, offering them instead some land at the 1939 World’s Fair Grounds in Queens, the O’Malleys accepted an offer from Los Angeles to bring the team west.”

“In any case, by 2003 the Dodgers had passed from the O’Malleys to the Fox Entertainment Group subsidiary of News Corp., which had bought the team for $311 million five years earlier… The McCourts were willing to pay close to the price Fox wanted, about $421 million, and Fox didn’t seem to care how they got to that number, even if the financing was about as creative as the mortgage for a Miami condominium in 2006.”

Here is the original article by Vanessa Grigoriadis for Vanity Fair (August, 2011).

 

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