The Los Angeles Dodgers’ filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday – some 72 hours before they must meet their semiweekly payroll – was not an unexpected development, as Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has shown all along he will resort to any means necessary in his desperate attempt to hold onto the team.
But what the bankruptcy filing does is ensure there will be no quick end to this ugly chapter in the Dodgers’ grand history. More questions were raised than were answered by Monday’s action:
Will the bankruptcy court approve the financing that would allow McCourt to make payroll on Thursday? Can the bankruptcy filing successfully stave off a takeover by Major League Baseball? Will McCourt attempt to negotiate a new, more lucrative television deal than the one he already negotiated with Fox? And can McCourt’s ex-wife, Jamie, block the bankruptcy proceedings, because their divorce case remains unsettled?
McCourt’s argument, contained in Monday’s filing, is that MLB “forced” the Dodgers into bankruptcy by blocking their multi-billion television deal with Fox, which would have provided McCourt with $385 million up front to stabilize the team’s operations.
The list of creditors named in the bankruptcy filing is both stunning (for demonstrating how wasteful the McCourt-led Dodgers have been) and amusing. The biggest creditor, at nearly $21 million, is Manny Ramirez, who last played for the Dodgers in 2010. Kaz Ishii, who is owed $3.3 million, last played for the Dodgers in 2004. The list also contains a player who has yet to play for the Dodgers (2010 first-round draft pick Zach Lee, $3.4 million) and play-by-play legend Vin Scully ($152,778).
The last time a major league team filed for bankruptcy protection, the Texas Rangers just last year, it ended in relatively timely fashion and with an outcome – a group led by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan won the team in an auction for $590 million – that was applauded on all sides.
This time, the end will come nowhere near as quickly, and the conclusion probably won’t be as tidy, either.