BOB:  Dodgers now divorced and the Astros hit the open market

McCourt’s divorce is final, sort of

While the property settlement between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie McCourt drags on, the two have now become officially divorced. The Los Angeles Superior Court granted the request for their marital status to be changed from separated to divorced. Of course this isn’t the end of the story.

A mediator has given the two a proposed settlement and they have until the end of November to accept or reject it. For now the settlement has been kept secret but it’s expected that the proposal will be rejected. Then the judge has until Dec. 28 to rule on the validity of the marital agreement that appears to give Frank McCourt sole ownership of the team. Of course regardless of what happens, there will probably be an appeal and we could see this drag out for years.

Drayton McLane puts Astros up for sale

It doesn’t seem like we can go for a long period of time where a team is in the process of being sold. Just a few months after the Texas Rangers sale closed, now the cross state Houston Astros are being put up sale. Drayton McLane purchased the team in 1992 for $117 million Forbes valued the team at $451 million earlier in 2010.

Estate planning issues were one of the primary reasons that McLane said he was selling the team. Steve Greenberg at the investment bank Allen & Company has been hired to facilitate the sale. There’s already one potential suitor out there in Miles Prentice. A New York attorney, Prentice owns three minor league teams.

The tax-exempt bond argument

Last week, I talked about how Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts wanted to put a face lift on Wrigley Field to the tune of $200 million. He’s argued that he doesn’t want anything from the taxpayers because he just wants tax-exempt financing. Of course subsidies come in all shapes and sizes and this is a good example of how many owners use little more then sleight of hand to make it look like they’re not dipping into public coffers.

First off, Ricketts proposes using revenues from the expected growth in an amusement tax that’s already in existence. It’s like saying that if the government gives you a bunch of money now you’ll pay them back with any increase in your tax bill over and above what you’re paying at the moment. What’s somewhat deceptive about this is, you would have had to pay the money anyway. The other subsidy is the tax exempt bonds themselves. Because they have tax exempt status, the interest rate is usually better then usual and it’s money not going to the federal government that would have normally been available for use (or misuse, depending on your trust in politicians).

Scott Boras pleads innocent in loan scandal

Super agent Scott Boras is in some hot water for making $70,000 in loans to Dominican prospect Edward Salcedo between 2007 and 2009. The big issue here is whether Boras “loaned” the player money in order to entice him to have Boras be his agent. Like Boras says though, it looks like everything was done appropriately. Salcedo was a client of Boras for a while and Boras even negotiated a nice signing bonus for Salcedo back in 2008 but the deal fell through when Salcedo had problems confirming his identity.

It took a couple of years but Salcedo cleared everything up and eventually signed with the Atlanta Braves but with someone other then Boras as his agent. Since then, Salcedo has switched back to using Boras but it looks like the loans were made when Salcedo was already working under Boras. This could be a story that’s not a story but it warranted a look by the New York Times so we’ll see if there’s anything else that comes out of it.

Minor League Baseball partners with Essensa

Minor League Baseball and Essensa, a national group purchasing organization, agreed to a five-year partnership last week. As part of the deal, Essensa will become a sponsor of the winter meetings and they’ll also serve as the MiLB’s primary group purchasing organization. They’ll be responsible for supplying MiLB everything from food services to office supplies and the plan is that with Essensa’s clout that there will be some significant overall savings.

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