BOB: Dodgers divorce and the Cubs sale closesby Brian Borawski
October 28, 2009
Dodgers divorce gets uglyEarlier this year, John Moores, the owner of the San Diego Padres, began divesting his interest in the San Diego Padres to former agent Jeff Moorad. The underlying reason was that Moores was in the middle of a divorce and splitting a stream of purchase payments is a lot easier to split than a baseball team. Now, it looks like we’re going to go through a nastier repeat because Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie have separated and Jamie has found herself out of a job. Just a day after the Dodgers exit from the NLCS, the Dodgers fired Jamie, who was the team’s chief executive officer.
But Jamie is claiming she’s an owner so as far as I know, we’re entering a situation without a prior precedent. California is a community property state so for her to make that claim has some basis. Jamie has vowed to sue; the big issue is what the court says about the ownership of the team.
For now, the Dodgers are saying it is business as usual, but MLB is monitoring the situation. MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy called it a disruption but he also said the team is operating fine. DuPuy also said that there hasn’t been any encouragement from the league for the McCourts to sell the team. Ned Colleti, the team’s general manager, backed this up by saying he hasn’t seen any changes so far.
ALCS and NLCS a hit with viewersMLB’s spin machine was back at it; now, MLB is touting the 2009 playoffs as a huge success. Considering it's being compared to one of the least viewed playoffs (last year), "huge success" might be a stretch. For the ALCS, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and New York Yankees series was up over 35 percent ratings wise from last year’s ALCS. The NLCS also showed a big boost with a 35 percent pop from 2008.
Now that the World Series is here, expectations are high. FOX Sports executive producer Ed Goren has said that the company is anticipating this to be the greatest year-over-year improvement in World Series ratings history. Again, when you’re coming off of an all-time low, there’s plenty of room to improve so we’ll see what actually ends up happening. Having two high profile East Coast teams will definitely help.
Another big factor will be how long the series lasts. For the first time ever, the World Series has gone only five or fewer games in five straight seasons and these series blowouts have made their mark. Having the Yankees in there as the team many people love to hate will also help.
Late season has cons but no fixes on the horizonRegardless of how long the World Series lasts, it’s going to leak into November, and if the series goes to seven games, we’re looking at a November 5 finale. This all assumes there are no weather problems and all seven games are played as scheduled. While this is problematic (think of the Twins playing in a November World Series in their new open air stadium), there’s no easy solution. Tyler Kepner at The New York Times provides some ideas, but then resolves that most of them are untenable. The World Baseball Classic and the calendar didn’t help, and he rules out shortening the season and playing only in warmer weather spots combined with a March start to the season.
Cubs sale closesIt took over two-and-a-half years, but the Chicago Cubs finally have a new owner. The ownership group headed by Joe Ricketts was given the reins yesterday; the group now owns 95 percent of the team, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent interest in Comcast Sportsnet. The final number was $845 million for the majority stake. The Tribune Company retained a five percent stake to get out of paying a bunch of taxes. This is the largest baseball deal on record, surpassing the sale of the Boston Red Sox, which sold for $660 million, back in 2002.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.