The McCourt Divorce: Reader’s Digest version

Recently-fired Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt filed for divorce from Dodger owner Frank McCourt yesterday. Or I should say alleged Dodger co-owner Jamie McCourt filed for divorce from alleged Dodger co-owner Frank McCourt, because ownership of the Dodgers is clearly the big deal here. If you’re into this sort of thing you can read the papers here. If not, here are some of the highlights:

  • The McCourts are worth $1.2 billion, with $800 million of that worth being the value of the Dodgers. I’d expect that team valuation figure to vary wildly in the future depending on whether Jamie buys Frank out (she’ll then claim it’s $500 million); Frank buys Jamie out (she’ll claim it’s worth $1 billion) or they sell the team and split the money (They’d jointly ask $1.6 billion). Crazy? Heck, that same dynamic is going on with my divorcing neighbors across the street who think they’re going to sell that house for what they’re asking. Please, you have laminate counter tops, guys, and you didn’t even spring for the bonus room. Why would anyone pay that much?
  • Jamie McCourt demands custody of Tommy Lasorda. Just kidding. She wants Casey Blake. He’s ruggedly handsome, you know.
  • Unlike your old man, who had the good sense to throw your ass out on the street when you turned 18 so you could learn to make something of of yourself, the McCourts support their four adult children with generous financial support. In unrelated news, I think I’m gonna go marry a McCourt. I don’t care which one. Well, not Jamie. Her lawyers are MEAN.
  • Lots of case cites and legal arguments. This is of limited interest to you non-lawyers. The lawyers, however, will be interested to know that they underline cases in California rather than italicize them. Personally, I do neither: I write cases in wing ding font. Have I mentioned that I lose a lot?
  • Jamie and Frank had an agreement that they wouldn’t announce anything or do anything regarding their marriage until after the Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason. Frank violated that agreement, Jamie says, by firing her on October 21st, before the Dodgers were eliminated by the Phillies that night. I’m inclined to go easy on Frank for this, however. Sure, the game wasn’t over yet, but Torre was starting Vicente Padilla, so it was reasonable to assume that things would end soon enough.
  • Frank’s actions, Jamie alleges, were all designed to freeze her out of the Dodgers, which apparently forms the basis of almost all of their marital cash flow. At the same time, he closed or froze bank accounts which pay her bills and stuff. Classy move, Frank!
  • Some marital history. They met as teenagers. One of them majored in French. One of them went to law school. They moved to a city they didn’t much care for. They had no money. The lawyer realized that the practice of law wasn’t the right career choice. All of this describes my wife and I as well. Age us 20 years and give a billion bucks and this could totally be us.
  • The McCourts made their money in parking lots. I’m assuming their millions came from TOTALLY BOGUS KEY CARD DEPOSIT FEES THAT THEY NEVER RETURN EVEN WHEN YOU GIVE THE KEY CARD BACK. Not that I have any experience in that with Cap City parking in Columbus, Ohio, do I Walid? Jerk.
  • “Since I was a young girl, I dreamed of owning a Major League baseball team.” David Glass says the same thing all the time. Verbatim.
  • When the McCourts bought the Dodgers, Frank made a public statement that said “Family ownership has returned to the Dodgers!” I’m just a dumb trial lawyer who is ignorant of the ways of divorce courts, but I have this feeling that video of that is going to be played to a jury at some point, perhaps several dozen times over the course of a two week trial.
  • Jamie led a push to have the environs of Dodger Stadium given its own zip code and the name “Dodgertown, California.” That’s so lame I’d expect to see that as an accusation in Frank’s filings, not a supporting point in Jamie’s.
  • Many paragraphs in which Jamie describes Frank as freezing her out of management of the team and trying to “rewrite history” as to whether the team was jointly owned or owned just by Frank. This is the real meat of this filing and the stuff that will make up the bulk of the nastiness going forward. It’s a fool’s game to make up your mind after reading one side’s pleading, but I’m a fool, so I’ll do it anyway: a lot of her allegations sound (a) plausible; and (b) not very good for Frank. Petty crap, if true, none of which will serve his alleged intended end of establishing himself as sole owner of the team.
  • Jamie wants her job back as Dodger CEO. But even if she can’t get that, she wants all the “perquisites, emoluments and benefits” that come with the job and with co-ownership of the Dodgers. That’s perks and fringe benefits to peasants like you and me. The list of perks is long and includes all of the sorts of things you might expect the owners of a billion dollar company to have: Private jet travel, five star hotels wherever she goes, use of the “Dodger credit card” and the like. The only one that has me scratching my head is “private security when traveling in dangerous locations.” By that I can only assume she means road trips to Queens when the team plays the Mets.
  • Jamie made $2 million a year when she worked for the Dodgers. You can look at this one of two ways: as an awful damn lot of money to pay a person for coming up with stupid stuff like “Dodgertown, California” or as a total steal considering she made 1/6 the money Jason Schmidt did and actually, you know, did stuff.
  • The McCourts own a lot of real estate. Which I understand seeing how rich they are and everything. What I don’t get is the redundancy: two Malibu beach house, two Massachusetts houses, a place in Vail and a place in Yellowstone. Where’s Bill Simmons’ VP of Common Sense here? Why not sell Malibu #2, Massachusetts #2 and one of the western outdoorsy places and supplement with places in New York, Hawaii and Portofino? Man, rich people should just hire me. I could make their lives a whole lot better.
  • Description of lifestyle: more on the private air travel (private jets at $12K an hour) fine hotels (always over $1000 a night) and nice dinners out ($400+ a pop). Good for them. What kills me though is that the next time there’s a labor impasse, Joe Fan is going to side with the owners and complain that the players are the greedy ones who make too much money to play a kid’s game.
  • She wants $320,967 in monthly spousal support if she gets her job back with the Dodgers. If she does not get her job back with the Dodgers, she wants $487,634 a month. That seems like a lot, but when you consider that the guy was paying Andruw Jones more than three times that recently, it kind of puts things in perspective.
  • It goes on and on and on like that, complete with exhibits and stuff which bloat it to 137 pages. At the risk of going on that long myself, I’ll stop now. But before I do, let me say one thing: don’t ever, ever, ever get married, no matter what you do.

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    1. MooseinOhio said...

      Reading this felt kind of like ATH: The Divorce Edition. 

      Looking forward to reading ATH: The Letterman Bribery as well as ATH: The Michael Jackson Legacy.

    2. HP3 said...

      The late comedian Richard Jeni said it best:

      “You reach your forties and you’re single; you have two choices, you can be lonely or you can be irritated.”

    3. Greg Simons said...

      “What kills me though is that the next time there’s a labor impasse, Joe Fan is going to side with the owners and complain that the players are the greedy ones who make too much money to play a kid’s game.”

      Amen to that.  I never understand why people take that stance.

      And shouldn’t “italics are FANCY” be written as “<,i> italics are FANCY</i>?”

    4. Kelly said...

      That was awesome in its humor and its reminder that the world of law may be a lot of people wasting time but the world of RICH PEOPLE DIVORCING is even worse. 

      I laughed at least 18 times.  But I’m tired.  It may be worthless, I’m just not fully aware of it yet.

    5. Jay said...

      Sounds like somebody was hitting the scotch and the keyboard at the same time last night.

      Seriously though, nice work Craig. Vintage Shysterball from the Blogspot days, I say.

    6. YankeesfanLen said...

      Okay, we get the Reader’s Digest version, and it looks like the Blue Network gets the Highlights for Children version.
      A Dr. Seuss is planned for hot stove season.

    7. TC said...

      John Michael: When discussing the idea of a pre-nup the wife and I realized that the total valueof our possessions is less than our student loan debt. Good times!

    8. Mike Dark said...

      Please keep in mind that the divorce is hardest on the children.  With tearing down of the McCourt empire, their sorry four children might have to go out into the stark world and actually work!  Just so sad, those poor, poor dears!

      And as a child of the Moores divorce, read Padre fan, I know first hand the pain and suffering of the children.  Now that the same thing happening in Dodgertown, CA, I am watching this saga with great anticipation!  I probably enjoyed this post a litte too much.  Keep up the fantastic work Craig!

    9. J. McCann said...

      Not sure these are the true facts, but I think I have heard them, and tell me what happens if true:

      1. Signed pre-nup, but not video as it is so old.

      2. They had 4 kids (bad for pre-nup), but I think all the kids are adults now (so no child support?)

      3. Frank was actually smart for a second and made sure all MLB documents list (only) him as owner.

      4. They live in California, a community property state, and to be fair he was not rich before they married, so maybe they should just split stuff.  Would Cali care about an old Mass. pre-nup?

      What happens?  (other than a lot of lawyers making a lot of money)

    10. The Rabbit said...

      +23 Craig…equaling the number of times I laughed when I read this post.
      “private security when traveling in dangerous locations.”
      If I remember correctly, Ms. McCourt somewhat recently returned from Israel. She(the Dodgers?)was promoting/financially sponsoring American athletes in the Maccabean games.

    11. Josh said...

      Re: the stuff on 37 of the PDF (asset transfer).

      You don’t think her legal background nukes her “i was fooled by the paperwork” argument?


    12. Pylon said...

      How about allowing them some privacy?  Just because you are a worthless excuse for a writer is no reason to trumpet this crap.

      Try doing some research and providing a story with some merit.  Unless that is beyond your abilities.

    13. Drew said...

      Queens should not be considered a dangerous place for anyone affiliated with the Dodgers association.  Hell, they’ve built a shrine to them.  I’m sure the Wilpons would see to it that they’d be well taken care of.

    14. APBA Guy said...

      Wow, did Pylon slip over from NBC?

      The ownership story is of interest, particularly as the expenses involved relate to ticket prices and attendance.

      Here in Northern CA the previous A’s ownership had a private plane on which they allowed their daughter to fly back and forth to college in Arizona. Nice, and nobody much cared when they were winning.

      Now that the A’s are losing with regularity and trumpeting their generosity at not raising ticket prices for 2010 (after 10 straight years of raises exceeding 100% in ticket cost), the cost of such “emoluments” directly affects the decline in attendance at Oakland due to outrageous prices versus the product on the field. It’s called perceived value.

      So back to LA, seeing how the upper income stratum lives has always been sport for the middle and lower classes. To the extent that the financial details provide a window into how they view money and treat their agreements, it can and should impact decisions about attendance at an entertainment event.

    15. Aaron Moreno said...

      “Jamie McCourt demands custody of Tommy Lasorda. Just kidding.”

      Well, she does want “Dodger Legends available for events and speaking engagements without charge”

    16. Craig Calcaterra said...

      Pylon: Not sure how reading and discussing a legal filing that is freely available for any person on the planet to read by simply walking into a public courthouse invades anyone’s privacy, but if you have some theories on that, by all means, share.

      Josh: I find some of her language to that effect troublesome, but if what she says is true and Frank and the family lawyer were all in agreement that, wait, this didn’t effect our actual intent, let’s change it, and then held out, it may alleviate some of that. And while I’ll admit that this is an advocacy document designed to put her in the best light, there doesn’t seem to be anything suggesting that she received any consideration for signing away all of her property rights 25 years in to a marriage.

      Obviously Frank gets his say, but I don’t find it plausible that she truly signed away everything in 2004 for no reason.

    17. TC said...

      “…don’t ever, ever, ever get married, no matter what you do.”

      You know, it seems like I’ve been hearing variations on that particular theme quite a bit lately.  Which is troubling.  Because I just did.  Get married. I’m sure me and the Missus won’t go the way of the McCourts and virtually every other couple I know.  We’ve got somethin’ special, baby.  Ain’t nobody like us.

    18. Craig Calcaterra said...

      I think that’s just become the big joke, TC. I’m not even sure why I wrote it last night, because I don’t really believe it.  I’ve been married for over fourteen years and, on the whole, think marriage is pretty nifty.

      I think the real lesson is “don’t ever ever ever end a marriage by behaving like children incapable of being decent to one another.”

    19. themarksmith said...

      On the double houses thing, they have them so that they can have affairs with Steve Phillips while the other one stays in the other house.

    20. Andy L said...

      Wow.  I’m in my third year now and I have no idea whether we italicize or underline cases in Wisconsin.  That seems bad.  That’s bad, right?

    21. Craig Calcaterra said...

      Actually, I was just going for the joke with that. I see both italics and underlines here in Ohio, and I’m guessing the same is true of Wisconsin. It’s more a firm-by-firm kind of thing in my experience.

      Italics is way way better though, because italics are FANCY.

    22. John Willumsen said...

      Wow, I like the stark simplicity on page 1. “You are being sued.” Not sure what I was expecting, “Hi. How’s it going? You should grab a seat. Comfortable? How about some coffee? No? Ok, let’s get right to it. Now don’t freak out or anything, but you’re being sued. I know, crazy right? Ok now, deep breaths…”? That’s all perfectly good language that I should expect to see on a legal document right?

      In other news, congrats, Craig, on being bigger than the New York Times, Wallstreet Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, ESPN, etc. etc. etc.; all of which reported on the divorce but apparently none of which had the world-wide audience and large sphere of influence required for them to have burst the bubble of the McCourts’ privacy. No, sir, that was you. Also, seriously, we all know how easy it is to read and parse a 137 page legal document, so please do some real leg work next time? Seriously though, I get the idea that this is a personal thing for these folks, and we don’t really *need* to know about it, but a) my level of sympathy for people tends to dip a bit when they’re worth over a billion dollars, and b) when you’re a lawyer who writes about baseball, and there’s a legal proceeding going on that relates to baseball…well you see where I’m going with this.

    23. John_Michael said...

      Here’s what I told my Finance (after I found out what a ring costs, I made the decision to use ‘finance’ instead of ‘fiance.’) one day:  “Our love must be real, because it’s pretty obvious that neither of us are in this for the money.”

    24. Erik said...

      I was wondering if there was public statement available to the public of either Frank or Jaime McCourt. I am writing a paper on how rhetoric shapes public opinion. My goal is showing how Frank and Jamie are trying to shape society’s public opinion.

    25. WG Willie said...

      These are two narcissistic opportunists who charge $15 just to park at their stadium, and then $8-10 for a beer, and then sit on their profits.  The points Craig brings up are totally relevant to how competitive the Dodgers are allowed to be, and to the fan expense and experience.  Best thing that could happen is that the McCourts are forced to sell the team in a timely fashion.  As to their personal misfortune, it’s called “karma.”

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