Los Angeles Dodgers: 6 Things That May Occur with MLB in Control of Franchise
In a move that took the baseball world by storm, Bud Selig announced Wednesday that Major League Baseball will assume control of both the financial and day-to-day operations of one of the league's most storied franchises—the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Selig added that a representative from the commissioner's office would be appointed to oversee the Dodgers' operations "over the next several days." Although several names have already been speculated as to who may be sent to Los Angeles, it's still unknown who the representative will be.
Some people believe that this is the first in a series of moves that may eventually force the sale of the Dodgers. It's been mentioned that current owner Frank McCourt may retaliate with a lawsuit; however, legal details still remain sketchy. If Selig can convince three-quarters of the league's 30 owners to agree, a sale of the team on McCourt's behalf could become imminent.
Many baseball analysts believe that McCourt won't go down without a fight. In his lone statement to the media last evening, McCourt offered the following: "Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines which all 30 teams must follow. The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines. On this basis, it is hard to understand the Commissioner's action today."
It's tough to predict what exactly, if any, McCourt's next course of action will be. Regardless, fans across Dodgertown are left wondering how the takeover will impact the Dodgers moving forward.
The following slides show six results that may happen as a result of the takeover and offer commentary as to how several resolutions to a number of critical, team-related issues may occur over the coming months.
The Sale of the Team
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It's absolutely clear that the takeover by Major League Baseball is the first in a series of moves that will attempt to convince Frank McCourt to sell the club on his own without any further intervention from the outside.
With a trustee from the Commissioner's office now running the show at Chavez Ravine, Frank's income is very limited—especially considering that the total value of his personal properties is maybe two-thirds the value of what they were several years ago. With a legal bill that continues to soar into the millions, McCourt may be forced to sell simply because he has no other options for income.
Despite his intentions to sue the Commissioner, logic says that rather than squandering his last dime in court, it may be more beneficial for Frank to give in and sell the club on his own. Still being one of the league's largest markets, the investment value of the Dodgers is still very high, and a sale at this point in time would bring profitable returns for Frank—certainly enough for him to live comfortably for many years—despite the impending divorce.
From a business perspective—stubbornness aside—McCourt should eventually see this as his best option.
A Settlement to the Divorce
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In light of Frank McCourt's $30 million personal loan from Fox to meet the first payroll obligations of the season, many feel that most of the monies being generated by the Dodgers over the past year have been utilized to cover the expenses of Frank's team of divorce lawyers.
With MLB now in control of the team's finances, and with Frank's back seemingly against the wall in terms of personal income, more pressure will be applied to reach a settlement in the divorce proceedings.
In the latest settlement efforts, a resolution hinged around Selig approving a $200 million advance from Fox involving the television broadcast rights of the Dodgers. However, it's believed that Selig felt that any such monies created on behalf of the team should be applied to the operations of the club itself—not for the personal use of McCourt.
With the sale of the team, both McCourts will have the opportunity to liquidate all of their assets and reach a logical and fair settlement.
A New Front Office
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If indeed the Dodgers are put up for sale, exactly how long it will take for the transaction to be completed is an altogether different story.
Many believe that Bud Selig acted with haste and bad judgment when allowing Frank McCourt to purchase the Dodgers initially, and if indeed a resale occurs anytime in the near future, Selig will do his best to ensure that the club is left in good hands this time around.
That being said, there's no question that general manager Ned Colletti and several key players in the Dodgers' front office are very close to McCourt. It's only speculation, but when new owners arrive on the scene of almost every professional sports team, in most cases they prefer to establish their own management team.
It may be quite some time into the distant future, but the sale of the club may be the writing on the wall for Colletti.
An Increase in Attendance
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Whether it's attributed to gas prices, the economy, the Lakers' current playoff run, increased fan violence or the actual product on the field, fan attendance during the first 19 games of the season has suffered drastically.
Many dedicated fans have taken it upon themselves since the beginning of the season to exercise a boycott on the entire McCourt regime, pledging not to contribute a dime to the parking fees, the elevated price of concessions or the price of tickets in general—all of which are chief contributors of revenue for Frank and the Dodgers.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon on April 17, Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals were finishing the final game of a four-game series, and the registered attendance was a meager 27,439—not even half of the capacity of 56,000.
With light at the end of the tunnel in terms of ownership and positive direction, the fans can now be at ease and support their beloved Dodgers without any reservations whatsoever. Some economical factors may come into play; however, there should be absolutely no hesitation for those wondering if their hard-earned cash will contribute to McCourt's personal wallet. MLB is now in position to ensure that all monies generated will be recycled back into the organization in proper fashion.
The Proper Use of Team Revenue
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With a trustee from MLB in place, the McCourts will no longer have the ability to siphon funds from the organization to contribute to their lavish lifestyles. Gone will be the days of charging rent to the Dodgers for use of the stadium, using team cash to pay parties not even on the payroll or hiring psychic wizards to magically create a spell to make the team win.
Only four players on the current roster—Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe, Matt Guerrier and Chad Billingsley—have guaranteed deals that extend past 2011. With the proper use of funds, if the team elects to do so, the Dodgers will have the ability to extend such players as Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw into the future.
Monies may now be used to take proper security measures for fan safety and make necessary stadium upgrades where needed.
It may not happen overnight; however, the possibility exists of the payroll increasing to the point that it represents a club among the top three markets in baseball.
A New Era Will Begin
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Nobody can be certain that any type of progression will be made over the coming months, but there's no doubt that with the help of the Office of the Commissioner, the Los Angeles Dodgers have taken a step in the right direction.
From this point on, statisticians and bloggers will frequently be using the terms "X" player's OPS since the takeover, the Dodgers' record since Selig intervened or how much attendance has increased since MLB assumed control of the Dodgers.
Yet there still remains the remote possibility that Frank McCourt somehow hangs on as owner. Even if this is the case, Selig has put the minds of many at ease by mandating an appointed representative to govern the club so long as McCourt maintains ownership.
The days of embarrassment are now in the past.
Visible results may not even come this season, but if early momentum is an indicator, changes will be made quickly. Over time, the Los Angeles Dodgers will indeed return to being one of the prestigious crown jewels of the sport.
It's best for the fans, it's best for the Dodger legacy and it's best for the game of baseball.