Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers came just short of dancing in the streets when Fox announced the sale of the team in 2004. Six years of ownership by a group that, frankly, could have cared less about the team beyond the value of the media rights was finally over. Someone was coming in to save the team from the corporate greed that was destroying this once proud franchise.
So the guy is from Boston and doesn't really have the cash to properly run the team. Anyone is better than Fox, right? Wrong!
Frank McCourt seemed great at first. He promised not to move the team or tear down our beloved stadium. The team actually made the playoffs for the first time in what seemed like eons and then actually won a playoff series. The ship was righted.
Then Frank McCourt proceeded to do something not seen in modern professional sports, almost completely dismantle one of the most storied franchises in baseball. Fortunately, he did not succeed and agreed to sell the team before Commissioner Bud Selig scuttled the team for its own good.
Even more dancing in the streets almost ensued and several suitors appeared, expressing interest in buying the team. Great! Anyone is better than McCourt, right? Wrong!
Along with Mark Cuban, a group headed by Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey and too many other names to mention here—Fox very quietly expressed interest as well. It makes sense from a business standpoint, if you think about it.
Fox offered the Dodgers $3 billion for television rights for 17 (or 20, depending on the source) years. The team is probably going to be sold for around $1 billion. Spending the $1 billion for the right to negotiate with yourself, makes sound business sense. Heck, even going up to $1.5 billion to outbid everyone else still makes sense. It makes sense for Fox, that is, not the Dodgers. We've been through this before and this time around, it sounds even worse.
On Nov. 9th, Fox lawyer Richard Stone sent a letter to the Dodgers' financial adviser, Blackstone Advisory Partners, demanding they stop efforts to solicit bids for future television rights. The sale of future television rights was part of the agreement between MLB and McCourt to sell the team rather than have it disbanded.
Fox doesn't like that though because the Prime Ticket division of Fox Sports Net West has a contract with the Dodgers to televise games through 2013. They also have an "exclusive negotiating period" from Oct. 15, 2012, through Nov. 30, 2012 for future rights.
Because Fox is not happy about this, they further went on to ask the bankruptcy court to postpone a Nov. 30th hearing on a motion by the Dodgers asking the court to approve the sale process. The Dodgers contend that the future media rights are essential in selling the team by the April 30, 2012 set by MLB and that Fox is trying to delay the hearing because they are either unprepared or expect to lose.
Fox is not having that either. According to the Associated Press, in a motion filed Friday, Fox lawyers said "there is no good faith reason that LAD should still be under the bankruptcy court’s protection.” They further stated that they plan to file a motion by the end of the month asking the judge to dismiss the bankruptcy case entirely.
Dismiss the bankruptcy case that is the only chance of the team not being disbanded entirely by MLB? That doesn't make much sense. Unless you are planning to then rush in and buy the team at the last minute (at a discount of course, because no one else is interested).
Many Dodger fans feel like Frank McCourt is the worst thing that ever happened to the Dodgers. They would be right. They also feel like anything else would be better.
They would be wrong.