Wednesday, April 27, 2011

McCourt Plays Patriotic Card, Pulls No Punches

Frank McCourt took his soapbox to New York City today, taking a defiant stance against Bud Selig and MLB's actions to remove him from operational control of the Dodgers, even going so far as to call Selig "un-American."

I didn't expect the ever-litigious McCourt to go down easy--after all, this is a man who had no problem exposing the brittle timbers in the foundation of his Dodgers empire when he engaged with his wife Jamie in their public divorce battle--and expected some move of escalation. Honestly, I expected him to be pissed off and angry about the situation, which clearly came as a sudden surprise to him as well as most Dodger fans.

However, I also didn't expect the rash of hyperbolic quotes mentioned in the article, which seem fairly hypocritical given all of the mud that has come out in the last 12 months:

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt expressed defiance and outrage during a news conference in New York on Wednesday after baseball commissioner Bud Selig vetoed McCourt's agreed-upon deal with Fox for a regional sports network. McCourt said the deal would infuse the club with enough cash to be competitive on the field for the forseeable future.

McCourt went so far as to describe Selig as "un-American" for what he sees as an attempt by Selig to unlawfully seize McCourt's property.

In a statement released after the news conference Wednesday, Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations, took issue with McCourt's comments, both for airing them publicly and for being "not accurate."

"It is unfortunate that Mr. McCourt felt it necessary to publicize the content of a private meeting," Manfred said in the release. "It is even more unfortunate that Mr. McCourt's public recitation was not accurate. Most fundamental, Commissioner Selig did not 'veto' a proposed transaction. Rather, Mr. McCourt was clearly told that the Commissioner would make no decision on any transaction until after his investigation into the Club and its finances is complete so that he can properly evaluate all of the facts and circumstances."

McCourt hinted at a possible lawsuit against Selig and Major League Baseball.

"I have not decided exactly what we're going to do, but we will keep you posted," McCourt said after meeting with several baseball officials, but not Selig, at the league headquarters in Manhattan. "As I said, I am not going anywhere. This is the team I love and the community I love. These are my hard-earned dollars I put into this franchise, and I am going to protect my rights, obviously."

As I recall, McCourt was pretty highly leveraged throughout his ownership tenure, including the initial transaction which required a substantial loan from Fox. So I wouldn't exactly call it his "hard-earned dollars" at work here. But McCourt goes on:

McCourt also was asked to clarify a statement he made to a television reporter earlier in the day in which he called Selig "un-American."

"What I said was un-American was somebody's property being seized unlawfully," McCourt said. "There are core values in this country, and fairness is one of them. Transparency is another, and private property is another. Thankfully, it's not appropriate for one person's property to be seized by somebody else just because they get divorced or just because of some arbitrary reason. That is one of the great core principles and core values of this country, and that is what I'm referring to when I say it's just un-American to me."

I mean, I get it, McCourt wants to wave the flag and hide behind it, and unlawful seizure of property is one of the foundational issues our country tries to protect.

On the other hand, the core values of fairness and transparency that McCourt cites don't mesh whatsoever with the revelations that he siphoned over $100M from the franchise to fund his and his family's lifestyle.

Or that he gave mid-six-digit salaries to two sons either employed full-time in NYC or attending school full-time in the Bay Area.

Or that he didn't pay a cent in income taxes from 2004 to 2009 (LA Observed explains how).

Or that employees in charge of a $1.6M-budget Dodger-named charity should pull down salaries of $400K.

I mean, I could go on here. Frank McCourt has every right to sound indignant. But to cite "fairness" and "transparency"--values which were betrayed by McCourt according to facts that came out in the divorce case--really rings hollow.


Steve Sax said...

Alex Cora just got a single vs. the Mets.

Raises his average to .161.

NicJ said...

Frankie can argue this all he wants but i think it is inevitable that he loses the team. Poor baby is probably going to double his initial investment that he "put in".


Steve Sax said...

@NicJ, I agree, this seems like a lot of bombastic hyperbole to me, setting up a lawsuit, but inevitable sale. He won't starve, that's for sure--I'm sure McCourt will make a profit off the Dodgers somehow.

Steve Sax said...

O's had a 4-0 lead on the Red Sox and couldn't hold it; tied up

Steve Sax said...

Pirates clinging to a 2-0 lead, bottom of the eighth in PNC, over the Giants. We could use some insurance runs in this frame, guys.

NicJ said...

I just dont see how he is playing the "unconstitutional" card. The dodgers are a franchise of a larger company MLB. If i bought a McDonald's or Taco Bell or what have you and kept it in disrepair McDonalds could and probably take away the franchise because of the agreement i signed when i bought said franchise.

In short, if frank doesnt think the "for the good of baseball" clause he signed in his contract then he doesnt have to be a part of the club. Sell the team.

Steve Sax said...

pirates trying to give this game back to the giants in teh ninth

Steve Sax said...

If Frank McCourt had owned a McDonalds franchise, he probably would have started Filet o Fish Fridays a lot earlier, to his credit.

However, he would have sent his sons $100M worth of daily care packages of french fries, as well.

Steve Sax said...

one out one on for cody ross, batting .190, which means he's going to mash a two-run HR here to tie the game

Steve Sax said...

Ross reaches, two on and one out

Steve Sax said...

Miguel Tejada GIDP! UJTD! Pirates win.

More importantly, James McDonald--who I mentioned earlier today in the Xavier Paul article--got the win with a 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K performance, lowering his ERA to 7.66. Way to go, J-Mac!

Bumgarner takes the loss, falls to 0-4.

Steve Sax said...

Orioles win as well thanks to an 8th inning RBI from Vlad Guerrero; BoSox lose

Steve Sax said...

Giants' loss moves the Dodgers into second in the NL West

Alex Cora said...

Hell yeah I got me a single. Raising that average just like FJL.

Alex Cora said...

Anyone catch the other news conference from the other owner?

rbnlaw said...

Frankie on Squawk Box this morning: SOS.
Same old shit.
Says there is no reason for the "takeover." Claims the $100 million was $7 million to him and Jamie over 7 years, and the rest a "loan" against Dodger and real estate assets that is to be paid back. Fails to explain gross overpayment to sons for compensation.
Claims that the deal w/ Fox ($3B over 20 years) will infuse $300 mil immediately into the club. Also says he will sign agreement that NONE of the new money will go to him or his divorce.

Says that Selig's actions don't pass the smell test. If anyone smells like bullshit, it's Frankie "The Pouter" McCourt.

Steve Sax said...

@rbnlaw: thanks for the update. I threw something together for the 12N post, and I think this McCourt interview summary is consistent with my position...