Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Plaschke's open letter to the McCourts: Sell the Dodgers.

The concept, as these things go, makes sense. But buried within is a sentiment I hear now and then, and would like to discuss for a moment:

C'mon, McCourts, stop glaring at each other long enough to look together at the reality. This is your way back to community respect. This is your way back to a lasting legacy. After spending the last 10 months trapped in a storm of boos and jeers and jokes, this is your way out.
Don't wait until a judge decides who owns the team, a decision that could be destructive to both of you. Sell it first and you both win.
Announce that, for the good of the city, you have each agreed to give up your fight for sole ownership and decided to work together to sell the team to a qualified owner.

You all know how I feel about this: it could work, in theory. It would have to be a joint decision, but I absolutely believe the best outcome for the McCourts involves them working together to resolve the situation. To let the team still be at issue when this heads to trial would be a strong indication that this is more about winning the divorce, rather than on the field. But we've been over that. Here's where I move away from Plaschke a bit:
If you keep fighting over the franchise, McCourts, you will destroy everything you built here, leaving the team as vacant and rudderless as that parting gift from Fox.
Besides, Frank, what if you win that fight? You know you can't afford to keep the team as a sole owner, so it will only mean several more years of flailing. And Jamie, what if you win? The team will have to be divided anyway because it will become community property, so a sale would probably happen anyway, only in a long and messy manner.
Sell now, together, cleanly, and there will be buyers lining up to celebrate and continue your success. Sell now, nobly, and there will be fans lining up to applaud you on your way back to Boston.

Each of these paragraphs presents a problem. As to the first: the divorce won't necessarily destroy everything the McCourts have built in Los Angeles, at least as far as is meaningful. For one, other than a couple playoff runs at the expense of future talent and a distressed fanbase displeased with ownership, just what have the McCourts built that would be so terrible to lose? If anything, they should want to stay and win. That's the only way to recovering credibility.

To the second paragraph...why are we sure Frank doesn't have the resources to run the team on his own? Yes, he's plead poverty throughout the divorce, and yes, he's planned to keep payroll relatively low while increasing revenues. But the first point is necessary legal posturing, and the second indicative more of what Frank wants out of the the Dodgers than what he is able to provide. The McCourts have taken nearly $400 million out of the club over the last several years. What indication is there that Frank couldn't have the money?

As for the third paragraph...would buyers really be lining up? The Dodgers are hard to value right now, because of the TV rights which will soon be coming back in-house. And, as has been discussed, there are just fewer people out there right now capable of buying something as expensive as the Dodgers. And finally, any sale on these sorts of terms wouldn't happen overnight. There's little reason to believe Frank and Jamie's teams could work well enough together during a long sale process.

It's not that I'm opposed to a sale. Ok, maybe I'm a little bit opposed. I guess, at the end of the day, a sale looks to me like taking the quick way out, and it poses as many problems as it resolves. It's entirely possible this all ends with the Dodgers hitting free agency of their own, as it were. I'm just not ready to believe it can happen on friendly terms at this point.


  1. In a way i'm pulling for Frank, just like you say who knows if he can't run the team? Maybe he has a stash somewhere....then with the woman loose he decides "screw this, i'm gonna go buy myself a WS" and picks up some FAs just as Manny departs. Who says the next owner will be better? Or even as good?

  2. The McCheaps have been nothing but bad for fans. Ticket prices, parking, food and everything else has gone WAY up since they took over. Yes, the Dodgers have been in the playoffs, but you can't equate success in the NL West with a better product or a better fan experience.

  3. I don't know where you think the McCourts can pull off the divorce and Frank McCourt can keep ownership of the Dodgers.. The $400 million or more of the money that the McCourt used from the Dodgers is leverage debt. They have one of the highest leverage debt ratios for a MLB baseball team not building a stadium. They have put up for collateral, not only Dodger Stadium, but future ticket sales. They appear to have trouble getting commercial paper, and banks only will take collateral for any sort of money. This is not a way to run a MLB team. They are taking huge financial risks in order to make a small profit or to keep the team running, BEFORE THE DIVORCE!!!!!

    I am come to the conclusion that you are becoming a stooge for Frank McCourt, given that your only ad is for Dodger Tickets, and you are downplaying the huge debt that the McCourt have been running since they have bought the team in 2004. They are still paying off their purchase for a minimum $25 million a year, and that is only for the B of A loan, let alone the other loans and leverage they have gotten throughout the years.


  4. Anonymous #2:

    The current ownership cannot take credit for the postseason appearances since 2004. The players they inherited from prior regimes were the reason for it. The Dodgers have spent the least amount of money of ALL teams on the amateur draft since these crooks bought this team.

    They have slashed player development expenditures, and they sold half of their Dominican operations to the Atlanta Braves. Once a giant in international scouting, the Dodgers are now virtually non-existent.

    The only credit Colletti gets is keeping the young core that was inherited (and that was in part motivated by payroll, since they were cheaper). However, now they are earning bigger and bigger bucks, and they will not be affordable to the current ownership. Watch for one or more of the "young core" to be dealt away by the end of the calendar year.

    It is OUTRAGEOUS that the Dodgers would draw the revenue that they due and not be able to pay $2 million to keep Santana or have to ask the PITTSBURGH PIRATES to shell out a half-million for Dotel's option buyout money.

    Get these crooks out of town--this is a travesty, and Bud Selig is a huge reason for it.

  5. I like how you write your articles! Thank you.