Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Frank on the stand.

I'll get this out of the way up front: because of an unavoidable family obligation, I'm typing this from the airport and won't be back this week. I'll still be around here recapping the day's news and putting it all in perspective, and I don't think we'll miss a beat. As for more breaking-type updates, be sure to follow @molly_knight, as she'll continue owning the scene.

Frank McCourt took the stand again, and has not had a terrific day. While, to this point, there has been no smoking gun, revelations about both the MPA and the way he wants to run the Dodgers have stung.

This morning, Frank confirmed that he'd been given at least one copy of the California Agreement for review. A revision to Exhibit B of that document, Jamie says, clearly shows that Frank read the contested Exhibit A. Since B was revised but not A, the thinking goes, he must not have had a problem with the "exclusive" language.

I anticipate his team to counter that he did not make the revision; fixing a typo is something anyone can do, and that person may not have had the knowledge to notice the need for a substantial change. Boies' style flustered Frank for a time; he is well-versed in backing witnesses into a corner.

Larry Silverstein's absence continues to be disappointing, but the court cannot compel his testimony and it would be unwise for him to come on his own volition. From multiple attorneys on both sides, I've heard he's coming...and that he's not coming. He gets the Brett Favre treatment from me: I'll believe it when I see it.

The afternoon's testimony largely concerned Frank's long-term plans for the Dodgers, and fans won't like this either. Reducing player payroll was a significant part of his strategy to turn a profit from the Dodgers. Squaring that concept with all the money they took out of the team is a tough one. As the afternoon wears on, I'm sure Boies will continue to try to get additional damaging admissions into the record.

It is very important to remember than Jamie was always going to win this day. Susman will have a chance to do some rehabilitation, and then will have his own shot at Jamie. I'm very hesitant to make a judgment on who is winning until both have been on the stand. Until that happens, it's not a fair fight.

Sent via BlackBerry


  1. It really speaks to something when collective bargaining agreements are demanded to be renegotiated by owners and all these financial shenanigans do not show up as properly delineated footnotes.The owners are using the dodgers to unfairly enrich themselves, not add value to the team, and pay no income taxes because of the ability to conduct a financial "shell" game. I think something will change for the positive now that exposure of these carpet baggers is inevitable. it is too bad Toree and others had to experience it at the end of their respective careers.

  2. Why hasn't Bud Selig forced the McCourts to sell in the "better interest of Major League Baseball"? Their high profile divorce is an embarrassment to a once historic franchise, and their charity is under an investigation. Is it because Frank kissed his butt in Milwaukee during his statue celebration?

    I think Bud is turning his head on this topic, just like he did during the steroid era, and anything important for that matter.

  3. It is my contention that Frank and Jamie were chosen by Selig, as Josh said on the radio, because they had been vetted during their attempts at purchasing the Red Sox and Angels, and the owners apparently wanted to give them an opportunity, it seems. I have a more insidious theory. FOX wanted out of the Dodgers, massively lied about their losses, took advantage of the new baseball contract they had with MLB, and hand picked McCourt. This also was a strategic move on Selig's part to prevent a Yankees west concern, which certainly would have been the case had Malcolm Glazer or Eli Broad bought the team. Why else would FOX finance the entire endeavor? At the time it seemed to be something that could be done, the economy had not yet dumped, the Dodgers would be a "model" franchise (Baseball America's #1 at that)in cost containment while secretly funneling back every single dime that FOX claimed they lost at the same time as making the McCourts Hollywood royalty while the fans could eat cake, if the team could afford to sign cake.
    Recent documents have shown that McCourt had long term team payroll slashing and ticket price elevations for years to come. Truth be told, however, the wild card has changed the economics of the game in that low payroll teams have won it all multiple times in the past decade. High payrolls do not guarantee titles. Just ask the Mets. This is just not that good a team without Manny, and they clearly would never have gotten as far as they did the last two years without him.
    I think its Time for Tim Wallach to get an opportunity. Couldn't be any worse, could it? Don't answer that question.

  4. Given that Jamie was President/CEO of the Dodgers, isn't a reduction in payroll and subsequent abuse of Dodger funds (e.g. hiring faith healers) just as damaging to her? I'm not the biggest Frank fan, but why is everyone jumping on the "Frank is a jerk for lowering payroll" bandwagon when it was her plan too?

  5. exactly@josh! The only thing so far is that Jamie's waged a better PR battle than Frank.

  6. @Tony - I don't think anything you've laid out haven't been speculated on before... And all evidence points to a merger of the two theories that you posted. Fox wanted out so they force fed somebody, anybody down MLB's throat, and they were lucky to find the McCourts, whose business plan of reducing the Dodgers payroll were right in line with Selig's plan of reduction in total player compensation.

  7. "Frank McCourt took the stand again, and has not had a terrific day."

    That is an understatement. Having a sports owner, under oath explained it was his plan all along to lower payroll and overhead, while maximizing revenue, is a big reason why a trial open to the public should had been avoided at all costs. I think there is a chapter in the PR Suicide Playbook, that having a direct examination by David Boies is a form of PR Suicide.

    Personally, Frank could had done less damage to his image if he released a sex tape, than testifying in open court under oath about his business plan for the Dodgers. Susman will do just as good job with Jamie with his cross examination, but September 1st was a disaster for Frank, both on the stand and in the media.

  8. @okojo - I found a passage in one of the Times article to be very true (and I'm paraphrasing here,) at one point, even Gordon grew tired of all the talk about the Dodgers' business plan. At the end of the day, it's a PR disaster for Frank that the business plan they filed with MLB is now being dragged out and being banged against his head but it's all just a lot of smoke and mirror, they have nothing to do with the merits of the case.

    Yesterday was undoubted a disaster for Frank McCourt, the person, but I truly wonder if it was a disaster for Frank McCourt, Dodgers owner.

  9. @greg..

    It was a disaster for Frank McCourt, the owner of the Dodgers. When the Dodger Ticket office sends its letters to season ticket holders about the 2011 season ticket renewal with oh by the way, we are increasing ticket prices, they are going to get lots of cancel orders besides the usual epithets thrown at them, with a couple retorts about why should they fund his lifestyle..

    Having to swear under oath about the finances of the Dodgers is a PR disaster. Having to swear under oath that he didn't read the MPA, or paid that close attention to it, or he was kind of blase about it, is a legal disaster. There is a good chance that Judge Gordon is going to set aside the MPA and declare the Dodgers as community property of the McCourts.

    September 1st for Frank was a disaster. He is going to piss off Dodger fans even more than he and Jamie have already have done. Some of his answers jeopardize his argument to abide by the MPA.

    There is no whitewashing of this, it was a disaster.

  10. just to clarify my earlier point, when I wrote, dodger owner, I was thinking about his ability to hang onto the team.