McCourt’s Reach Divorce Settlement But Nothing Is Really Settled


I’m not even going to try and interpret the ruling handed down in the L.A. Superior Court today by Judge Scott Brown. Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, the guru of all things pertaining to the McCourt divorce, points out in his article today that McCourt must still win two crucial decisions to assure his continued ownership of the Dodgers. One is Major League Baseball’s approval of the Fox TV deal which is literally McCourt’s lifeline, Jamie agreed to not challenge the Fox contract as part of the settlement today.

The second decision crucial to Frank’ s survival is Judge Brown’s ruling whether the Dodger are community property, in which case they would be split 50-50 by Frank and Jamie. Shaikin explains that if the 50-50 ruling comes down the outcome:

"would almost certainly result in the sale of the team, barring Frank McCourt raising hundreds of millions of dollars to buy Jamie out.If Gordon rules that the Dodgers are the separate property of Frank McCourt, then Jamie McCourt would get $100 million, keep the couple’s homes and receive indemnity from tax liability."

Jon Weisman over at the blog ‘Dodger Thoughts’ on ESPN explains that McCourt divorce settlement raises even more questions about the future of the Dodgers. Jon also brings up a couple of really good points that have been overlooked in all of the courtroom drama. The Fox TV deal which so much of the Dodgers future hinges on is:

"a deal that logically undervalues the Dodgers in exchange for the quick fix. But will that deal be approved by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, which, if it declines, would risk a lawsuit they don’t want from a now-united McCourt opposition?"

I have said all along that the Fox deal is a quick fix that bails Frank out in the short term but hurts the Dodgers in the long term, how could it possibly be good to lock in your TV rights in say 2025 at rates argeed upon in 2011, particularly when you have little to no leverage to negotiate with?

ESPN Los Angeles has an interesting point, especially for those fans hoping for the forced sale of the club. They are reporting:

"Lawyers involved in the settlement do not expect MLB to approve the Fox television rights deal. That would void today’s settlement and send both parties back to the drawing board, in part because Gordon could force a sale of the team and saddle a new owner with what could be a below market television contract in the future."

So really even though both sides are announcing a settlement, and that they are now working together as a united front to maintain control of the Dodgers, for Dodger fans today’s news means little more than speculation of what may happen. The next key date is June 30th, that is when the next Dodgers payroll comes due. If Frank can’t make payroll then MLB will be able to step in and seize the club, which no doubt will lead to a long drawn out legal battle. The McCourt’s aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and even if MLB asks them to do just that, they will head to the courts to avoid losing their biggest asset.

For more information on today’s ruling check out these sites, all of which offer their own perspective on today’s proceedings and what they think it means for Dodger fans.

Howard Cole’s always amusing perspective at the Orange County Register.

Alden Gonzalez at the best part of the article is probably found in the comments section, where fans offer perspective such as :

"Hopefully he (Selig) is smart enough to see that Frank is trying to cash in TV rights for pennies on the dollar just to get cash now, and that a better and smarter owner would see clearly to building their own TV network, rather than further devaluing this once great and proud franchise. Good luck, Dodgers.  It’s gonna get worse before it gets better, I’m afraid."

Dodger Divorce is also a great source since Josh Fisher is actually a lawyer, so he can sift through the legal mumbo jumbo and explain it to all of us in a manner in which we can understand. His latest article is no exception, and he also includes a copy of the ‘Term Sheet’ signed by the McCourt’s today. Fun stuff.

LA Dodger Talk is another great source as they actually talk about what’s going on with the team on the field, as well as providing some excellent daily minor league recaps.

If you want more news about the actual players on the team not the courtroom drama Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has a great article on Matt Kemp and how much his MVP season may earn him in his next contract. Hopefully the McCourt’s legal stuff is cleared up so they can actually retain their most valuable asset, their best player.

Finally Eric Stephen at True Blue LA has an article who’s title really sums up exactly how I’m sure how many Dodger fans feel about today’s settlement news, “McCourt’s Reach Divorce Settlement: Now What?” Exactly.

Oh by the way the Dodgers actually have a game tonight in case any of you were curious.