BOB: The empire takes over the Dodgersby Brian Borawski
April 27, 2011
MLB takes over Dodgers operationsThe big story right now, and it broke as last week's BOB Report went up, is Major League Baseball using its "best interest" clause to take over the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
My initial (and incorrect) reaction when I saw the headline was that this was a way to keep owner Frank McCourt afloat without all of the publicity. That is, the league could funnel money to the team without approval because it runs run the team. It's now looking like this is more of a takedown then a gentle nudge in McCourt's direction.
Basically the Dodgers, due to the McCourts' messy divorce and how things have been handled since the judge agreed that both Frank and Jamie have a stake in the team, have become an embarrassment. The team has taken a couple of draws from Fox to keep running and it's even looking like the television deal solution isn't as viable as most people were led to believe.
MLB has been pretty busy these days. It took over operations of the Texas Rangers last year when they were going through their bankruptcy sale. Late in 2010, MLB also loaned the New York Mets $25 million so they can pay their bills. Now you can add the Dodgers to that list.
This week, MLB appointed J. Thomas Schieffer to oversee the team. The Texas native was president of the Texas Rangers from 1991 through 1999 and he was heavily involved in getting the Rangers' current home in Arlington built. He's also a former diplomat. When the announcement was made, there was no indication as to what Frank McCourt's role in the team will be and there have been rumblings of a lawsuit.
What happened with Chuck Greenberg?Last week I speculated on why former Texas Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg was pushed out of the ownership group he helped bring together. The public story was that Greenberg and Nolan Ryan weren't getting along so Greenberg stepped down. There was speculation that the Rangers' loss of Cliff Lee (and how Greenberg handled it) along with some reticence over re-signing general manager Jon Daniels might have had something to do with it
It now sounds like Greenberg's absence from a board of directors meeting around the time Jon Daniels was re-signed may have had more to do with it. Greenberg also missed a scheduled party with advertisers around that same time and that was when Ryan laid down an ultimatum.
Agreement reached over pre-1980 pension paymentsMLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed last week to make annual payments to players who retired before 1980 and who did not have enough service to qualify for the Major League Baseball Players Benefit Plan. Since 1980, players need just one day of service to get into the plan but prior to 1980, four years of service was required. Now players who retired between Jan. 1, 1947 and Jan. 1, 1980 will receive up to $10,000 from the plan.
This is good news which also begs the question why this didn't happen sooner. Those older players had been locked out of a plan during a time when they were fighting for the benefits players receive now. I guess it's better late then never.
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.