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The Early Lead
Posted at 12:51 PM ET, 04/21/2011

Frank McCourt, Dodger blues aren’t going away soon

Commissioner Bud Selig is in for a fight if he thinks that Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will quietly give up control of his team, according to the Dodgers’ new vice chairman.

Steve Soboroff called the decision to wrest control from McCourt “irresponsible,” according to the Los Angeles Times, and said, “we need more people like Frank McCourt.” Soboroff also said that McCourt is not financially troubled.

“He can pay the piper.”

Perhaps, but he had to take out a $30-million loan last week in order to cover the first payroll of the season. As a result, a trustee will oversee the team because of Selig’s “deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers.”

Hired Tuesday by McCourt, Soboroff told reporters that “Frank McCourt is financially fine.”

Recently McCourt, the Times reported, presented Selig with an agreement for a 20-year television contract with Fox that totaled at least $3 billion. McCourt, who has owned the team seven years, contends that it would enable him to reach a divorce settlement, put money into the Dodgers and settle the team’s debts.

“This is like having money in the bank and having somebody hold your ATM card,” Soboroff said. “The money is in the bank. The Fox deal is done. These actions are not allowing him to access money. That's a lot different than saying he's got financial problems.”

Soboroff admitted McCourt has erred, particularly in spending $100 million of the team’s revenues on his lavish lifestyle.

Now, despite Soboroff’s comments, this is headed for an end. McCourt’s ownership can’t end quickly enough for baseball and Selig. From Bill Plaschke:

A club that once used profits to purchase ice cream for employees after victories was being run by an owner who used that money on everything from lavish mansions to fancy haircuts. A club that once employed nine Hall of Famers was being run by an owner whose payroll included his children and a Russian physicist hired to channel positive energy.

The more the McCourts took care of themselves, the more they ignored the fans, allowing the stadium to decay to the point where there is graffiti in bathrooms and endless lines at concession stands. In an attempt to attract younger fans, their loudspeakers played music that celebrated violence, their video board featured rules explanations from Snoop Dogg and when I asked Jamie McCourt [Frank McCourt’s estranged wife] about the appropriateness of it all, she just shrugged and giggled.

The world took notice of the problems this spring when a San Francisco Giants fan was badly beaten in the parking lot after the opening-day game. Baseball officials added that incident to their long list of grievances against McCourt.

MORE

What a farce: T.J. Simers

Photo gallery: The McCourt years

When McCourt tried to buy the Sawx: Craig Calcaterra asks, “What if?”

By  |  12:51 PM ET, 04/21/2011

 
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