So now you’ve dragged the voice of God into this.
There is no more disheartening, despicable way for Frank McCourt to sully the legacy of the Dodgers.
Among the dozens of pages of legal documents that the Dodgers current steward filed in a Delaware bankruptcy court on Monday morning, one particular among the “list of creditors holding the 40 largest unsecured claims” was given the No. 32 spot.
Vincent E. Scully. Address: Dodger Stadium, Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mark Conrad, an associate professor of law and ethics at the Fordham University Schools of Business Administration, saw that name and gulped.
“I know Fordham considers Mr. Scully a loyal alum, and I know he’s so beloved in the L.A.,” said Conrad. “But it all just looks unseemly. The whole thing is unseemly. It’s just so terrible.”
Normal people file for bankruptcy, especially in this recession, to get away from their debt. McCourt, as a result of his transgressions, is trying to keep his.
Normally, companies seek relief with Chapter 11 to freeze their assets. Several chapters ago in this long, drawn-out saga, McCourt froze out Dodgers fans. And have you seen who he’s employing as relief pitchers?
For years, spectators have gone to Dodger Stadium to escape reality, not to have it thrown in their faces.
It’s time for Dodger liquidation.
Then the team had the gall to release a statement relative to their latest court filings, words that scrolled across the bottom of every ESPN news show Monday in five-minute intervals: “There will be no disruption to the Dodgers’ day-to-day business, the baseball team or to the Dodgers fans.”
In a moment that ranks among the most embarrassing in the history of Major League Baseball, the destitute, defaulting, defrauded Dodgers have gone into disaster mode.
McCourt, ironically, is now trying to buy time.
Manny Ramirez, give us another few months, OK? Andruw Jones, considering your imput, there should be no problem if we just take a few more months to compensate you, right?
Juan Pierre, Kaz Ishii, Marquis Grissom . . .
Trust us, the Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, the LA Holdco LLC, the LA Real Estate Holding Company LLC, the LA Real Estate LLC, the Los Angeles Dodgers Holding Company LLC, the McCourt-Broderick Limited Partnership, the McCourt Company and whatever other shell properties we can’t recall at this time have not forgotten about you.
“You can’t blame him for using this aggressive legal strategy,” Conrad said of McCourt, not defensively. “He’s just looking for any kind of opening to extract whatever else he can before he loses it all for good. Most of us if we owned a business would likely do the same thing.
“But the problem is the residual effect is of a public nature that’s untenable to most people.”
Meaning, when we see Vin Scully’s name among a couple of tax lawyers, a stadium concession company, a couple of team sponsors, the flagship radio station and the City of L.A., we have just entered “one of the uglier weeks in Dodgers history,” David Carter, the executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, said in the most elegant way possible.
It’s come to this because of McCourt’s innate ability to mortgage the future to pay for the present. He’s done that with sponsors, seeking cash advances on contracts now after he sweetens the deal down the road.
You’ve had a sense he did it with players. But now there it is in black and white.
There’s more of that in previously dealing away top minor-league talent – Carlos Santana to Cleveland, Josh Bell to Baltimore – in exchange for players with big deals that were overvalued, like Casey Blake and George Sherrill.
A week ago, MLB commissioner Bud Selig rejected the current media offer from Fox Sports – a 17-year deal valued somewhere between $1.7 billion to $3 billion. His reasoning wasn’t surprising: Too much of a $385 million upfront loan was going to be skimmed to take care of outstanding lawyer fees, standing personal debt and “discretionary” needs.
McCourt says he intends now to hold a “competitive sale process” to secure a new cable TV contract within 180 days, even though the team’s current deal with Fox extends through 2013 and prevents anyone else from negotiating with them before Nov. 30, 2012.
Time Warner Cable, which recently struck a deal to start two cable channels with the Lakers, could be in position to save the Dodgers, McCourt thinks.
Because no matter how you cut it, media money can’t be used for personal use. Period. That’s Selig’s rule. One he enforced with Tom Hicks when the former Texas Rangers owner tried to do that to save his team from being auctioned off, after he declared bankruptcy.
Money is supposed to be used to pay players. And peanut vendors. And new yogurt dispensers. And parking lot security.
And the most treasured media member in the game’s history.
“The average fan reading all this, they may sense there’s some crazy things going on and sort of understand the process,” said Carter. “But the fact that Frank McCourt owes money to Vin Scully is like someone forgetting to call their mother on Mother’s Day.”
God help us.
Don’t expect anyone to pull up a chair wondering if someone is about to pull it out from under them.