Tag:Bud Selig
Posted on: June 4, 2011 10:46 pm

Cubs' debt could handcuff free agent spending

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tom RickettsCubs fans with dreams of either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder defecting to the Cubs from their current National League Central foes may want to lessen their expectations.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs' current debt structure will keep the team from signing any high-ticket free agents for the next two or three years. Wittenmyer spoke to a source with "first-hand knowledge of the Cubs' purchase deal and debt structure" and noted it's consistent with the message Tom Ricketts has been preaching since taking over the team that they team would build through player development.

Friday the Los Angeles Times reported the Cubs were one of nine teams that were in violation of baseball's debt service rules. However, commissioner Bud Selig told the Chicago Tribune that he has no concern about the Cubs' current debt level. According to the Tribune, the Ricketts financed more than $400 million to purchase the Cubs in 2009, a deal that was worth $845 million.

"I have zero concern," Selig told the Tribune of the Cubs. "Everything we've ever asked of them, they've done it and then more. … I'm happy that a story [like this] reflects badly on the Chicago Cubs under Tom Ricketts. There is no reason anybody should have economic concerns. … It's so unfair to Tom Ricketts and the family. I normally don't talk about our business, but I can't let this go on. This is wrong."

However, the paper notes Selig did not dispute the accuracy of the story, just the perception it creates that more than just the Mets and Dodgers are in dire financial trouble.

Selig said the team is free to do whatever they want without interference from his office. But just because the bank says it's not foreclosing on your house, that doesn't make going out and buying a new Bentley is a good idea.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 8:50 pm

Bankruptcy filing could keep Dodgers with McCourt


By Evan Brunell

If Frank McCourt wants to keep the Dodgers, he may be able to do so by declaring bankruptcy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Seems odd, doesn't it? Declare bankruptcy and keep the team, but that's the challenge at play as MLB moves closer and closer to trying to strip McCourt of his power as he currently is unable to meet May payroll for his players. If McCourt declared bankruptcy, he would be able to go before a judge and contend that his $3 billion deal with Fox that is currently gathering dust on Bud Selig's desk is what is needed to repay his debtors. The court could rule that the deal needs to be approved, because the whole point of bankruptcy court is to ensure that lenders are paid back.

"You can't tell somebody you can't get paid back," a sports investment banker, who wished to remain anonymous, said. "The one right a debtor has is the right to pay back his lenders."

The possibility of a bankruptcy filing may be why Bud Selig appointed a trustee to go through the Dodgers' financials. A source said that Selig hopes to learn whether McCourt would default on loans to companies controlling Dodger Stadium and surrounding land should he file for bankruptcy.

On the face of it, McCourt would have strong positioning in bankruptcy court and would be considered a heavy favorite to eventually win out. However, he may run into problems with his lenders, who may not want to get on baseball's bad side. They could refuse McCourt's reorganization plans in a tacit move to freeze McCourt out of the game in order to keep its business with baseball and the other 29 clubs.

"If the creditors were completely supportive of Mr. McCourt, he would be in a pretty strong position," said Rob Kampfner, an attorney for White and Case, the firm that represented Nolan Ryan's group in winning a bankruptcy court bid for the Rangers. "But they're probably inclined to see their portfolio in a much larger sense than people that sell pencils to the Dodgers."

Should the creditors not approve McCourt's plan, he would have to give up the team but would have a better chance of getting the most bang for his buck via bankruptcy court. While MLB must still approve all new owners, the road toward doing that is far easier in bankruptcy court.  Selig's influence is widely felt during team purchases as he essentially handpicks new owners, but that influence zeroes out in bankruptcy court, which would allow McCourt to sell to the highest bidder and ensure top dollar in an auction.

However, McCourt's ex-wife, Jamie, may have a say in the proceeds. Jamie could argue that Frank cannot take the team into bankruptcy without her approval as she owns half the team, as a person familiar with her thinking said. However, she would likely not stand in the way of the filing, given it would end up boosting the price of the Dodgers.

Baseball does have one last line of defense as it could exercise a "voluntary termination" clause that the MLB constitution has in place in case of any bankruptcy filing. However, baseball would open itself to criticism and litigation if they did so as that clause was not used during last season's Rangers bankruptcy filing.

Regardless of how the bankruptcy filing plays out, McCourt would have a stronger hand to play against Selig as he would have a strong chance of retaining the team and if he didn't, would be able to maximize the amount the team is sold for while thumbing his nose at Selig one last time. 

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 9, 2011 9:29 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:31 pm

Selig speaks on differences between Dodgers, Mets

Selig, McCourt

By Evan Brunell

On Monday, commissioner Bud Selig appeared on ESPN New York 1050 to speak about the Dodgers's maladies, as well as fend off comparisons to the Mets.

"There are enormous complexities in both deals," Selig said of both teams' financial situations. The Dodgers are currently scrambling to meet May payroll in light of owner Frank McCourt's lack of funds. McCourt has just gone through a nasty and well-publicized divorce and in the process has sullied his name with the other 29 owners. McCourt is desperately trying to hang onto the club even as Selig appointed a trustee to oversee the club, while the Mets are reeling from Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme that has put them in the sights of Madoff trustee Irving Picard, who is suing owner Fred Wilpon and his real-estate company for $1 billion. The Wilpons have denied complicity in the Madoff scandal but are still scrapping for funds and have opened a bidding process for a minority owner. 

"I've read all these stories that say 'Well, they're really the same [situation],'" Selig said. "They're far from the same. Without going into details that haven't been announced, Fred Wilpon and I have been friends for a long time, and I have enormous respect and affection for him. But Fred Wilpon is doing what he should do. He's looking for an economic mechanism that will bring equity into the club: Sheer raw cash to put it in the most candid way. That alone is a huge difference. To compare one situation to the other is factually incorrect."

On the face of it, it seems rather odd that Selig would point toward Wilpon's pursuing of cash as the main difference between the Wilpons and McCourt. After all, McCourt is seeking an immediate transfusion of $285 million in a TV deal with Fox that will pay out $3 billion. However, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller comes to the rescue with an explanation, saying the difference likely lies in the fact that the money from the TV deal is in a contract, while the minority owner will bring money to the Wilpons that is "free and clear" to use. "The TV deal is something a new owner would inherit that may or may not be market value; one worry is that McCourt is possibly undervaluing the TV deal to get quick cash," Miller says.

"I've talked to Fred a lot about it, and I feel very comfortable that we're gonna have a very reasoned economic solution to that problem as opposed to another," Selig added. "They're approaching it the way I would've approached it. They're looking to add equity and I don't doubt that's gonna work out. The Madoff situation? That's well in the future. But in this case, to solve the immediate problem, they're doing it."

Meanwhile, the Dodgers reportedly will not be able to meet May payroll if Selig (pictured, with McCourt in happier days) doesn't approve the TV deal. That's how bad McCourt's financial situation is, and if he faults on payroll, may give baseball the legal footing to seize the team outright rather than place a proxy in place. McCourt would certainly mount a legal challenge, but would find himself on shaky footing both in the courts and in an ability to pay his lawyers. But Selig says he's not sure if the Dodgers can meet May payroll, even though the trustee, Tom Schieffer, has likely been in the role long enough to get an idea as to the urgency.

"I don't know that right now," Selig said of the May payroll. "I know that story has been written a lot, but the fact is I don't know. I know our people are tracking this very closely. I have appointed ambassador Schieffer, who of course ran the Rangers for years. Tom will keep me very well posted. We've also added Dick Freeman today. He ran the Pirates and has a great accounting background. I'll be able to give you an answer as we move forward here, but at the moment, we are monitoring this situation very closely."

Selig has yet to approve the deal for a variety of reasons. One reason is his attempt to freeze McCourt out of baseball, another may have to do with ex-wife Jamie McCourt approving the deal, and yet another is Selig's belief that McCourt will use the money to settle his divorce and other debts even as McCourt has promised to put in writing that the money will go to the team.

One other burning question that finally got answered is how McCourt got his hands on the Dodgers in the first place. The popular belief both in and outside of baseball is that no one gets a team without Selig's personal approval. His cronies -- the ones that will toe the line and follow his lead -- are the ones that get teams, as Mark Cuban can attest to. However, it appears this isn't always the case.

"I'll tell you what happened. There's a lot of history here, which a lot of people don't seem to understand," Selig said. "There were two other bidders. Fox was anxious to get rid of the team. They were all really anxious. I'll tell you what happened. There were a couple of groups: A group led by Dave Checketts and another group. And for whatever reason, they weren't around at the end, so Fox sold the club to the McCourts and presented them to us. So this idea that we ought to examine ourselves, there was nobody else. We have a long relationship with Fox. There were no other bidders."

So wait, no one else but McCourt wanted the Dodgers? That's rather surprising, as the franchise is one of the most storied in the game and in a major media market. If and when McCourt is booted, there should be plenty of interest in a club that cost McCourt only $371 million to purchase and now has a Forbes valuation of $800 million.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 4, 2011 11:48 am

Without TV deal, McCourt can't meet May payroll

By Evan Brunell

McCourtThe Dodgers saga is far from over, as the Los Angeles Times reports that Frank McCourt will be unable to meet May payroll without approval of a TV deal with FOX that will give L.A. $3 billion, with $285 million payable immediately that would cover payroll for the remainder of the season.

However, that deal is wallowing at the feet of commissioner Bud Selig who is awaiting both the approval of McCourt's ex-wife, Jamie, for the deal along with Tom Schieffer's OK. Schieffer was recently appointed as monitor of the Dodgers in a power-grabbing move by Selig that is thought to be an attempt by the commissioner to push McCourt out of town. Schieffer is reviewing all Dodger finances and Selig will not approve any deal until Schieffer completes that review. 

"It will be a thorough investigation," Schieffer said. "I would anticipate it would be longer than two weeks."

It's possible Schieffer will not conclude his investigation until the end of May, which will really put the squeeze on McCourt. Even if Schieffer comes through and OKs the deal, it's difficult to imagine Selig giving the green light in time for McCourt to pay his players. With the Dodgers then defaulting on payroll obligations, Selig would be able to legally and formally seize the team from McCourt and force a sale. McCourt could circumnavigate this by negotiating yet another personal loan, but it is unlikely FOX would grant another personal loan on top of the $30 million lent for McCourt to meet April payroll.

That means what is already a messy situation could get messier. If Selig doesn't release his grip on the TV deal and McCourt faults with baseball grabbing the team, McCourt would certainly sue over the proceedings and would have a solid case in court as he could easily contend that baseball froze him out and made him unable to make his payments through no fault of his own. Of course, McCourt dug his own grave, but you can't blame him for trying to climb out of it.

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 7:28 pm

Dodger fans dream of Cuban ownership

Mark CubanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Every time a sports franchise comes up for sale, its fans want Mark Cuban to buy it.

The Dallas Mavericks owner has already tried to buy the Cubs and Rangers, and now Dodger fans are hoping Cuban bails out their troubled franchise, starting a website: markcubansavethedodgers.com.

The website is little more than fans begging Cuban to buy the Dodgers. When asked about the site by Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers on Monday, Cuban said, "Just make up something that you want me to say," Cuban said, "and then put my name to it."

Simers did just that -- writing exactly what Dodger fans would like to hear Cuban say, that he'd spend more money than anyone, assemble a winning team, lower the price to games and he'd boo Jonathan Broxton.

Of course, if this whole mess with the Dodgers and Mets has taught us nothing, it's that Bud Selig plays favorites and only wants his folks in charge of baseball teams -- that's why McCourt is out and the Wilpons are still in. It's little secret which side of Bud's naughty and nice list Cuban falls, but what would fans be without unrealistic expectations?

Dream on Dodger fans, but Bud doesn't like mavericks -- or their owner.

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:01 am

Pepper: Advance scouting undergoing change

By Evan Brunell

GAMECHANGER: Technology is awesome. Pretty sure we can all agree on that. But technology also has the unfortunate side effect of throwing things into disarray and causing conflict on what the better option is. Witness the stats vs. scouting issue.

The Royals have dived head-first into technology when it comes to game video, using it as an opportunity to scrub the position known as advance scout. Instead, the scout now works out of Kauffman Stadium and analyzes video.

"After a while, you've just got to accept the fact that I've got more information at my fingertips right now," advance scout Kelly Heath said, "than I could ever get by jumping on a plane and checking in a hotel room and getting a taxi and working on three hours' sleep, and watching a guy in six at-bats or 10 at-bats and trying to make a decision after getting a limited view."

Now, Heath can look at thousands of at-bats spanning years or dial up spring training games to get a look at an opposing team's recent Triple-A callup. That never happened before. The Royals are benefiting financially from this transaction as they no longer need to pay Heath's flight and hotel rooms, but they're also benefiting on the field. The club leads baseball in assists, which is being credited toward the extra knowledge that Heath is bringing in his new role, while K.C.'s hot offense may also be partly due to the new way of doing business.

"You don't need an advance scout anymore, in my opinion," manager Ned Yost added. "You've got everything at your fingertips. Everything I need or we need to see is on the video."

You can bet that other teams will eventually latch on to this. It's a no-brainer: why send someone jet-setting all over the country for six solid months just to get a glimpse of a batter a few times a game (if you're lucky) ? And what if that batter is in a slump? You can't properly evaluate that batter or how to pitch to him in that scenario. That's where video comes in handy. And it sure sounds as if Heath's getting plenty of sleep now.

FOCUSED ON LEHIGH: Domonic Brown knows that Philadelphia is his future, but right now he's worrying about his Triple-A team in Lehigh Valley. Brown recently returned from fracturing his hamate bone and is trying to get back into the swing of things. He should be starting in Philly before long. (Philadelphia Daily News)

SELIG BETTER THAN YOU THINK: Commissioner Bud Selig doesn't exactly inspire confidence when you look at him, but has there been any other influential and more effective leader than Bud has been for baseball? (New York Magazine)

THE SEASON DOESN'T END IN APRIL: In the north side of Chicago, many are wondering if the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome will continue the trend of scorching Aprils followed by a below-par season or if, finally, this season's hot start proves a harbinger of things to come. (Chicago Tribune)

MCL TORN: Terrible news for the Mets who may have to deal with the loss of top pitching prospect Jenrry Meija for the season after tearing the MCL in his elbow. There's no question that this is a major setback for the team, who were probably counting on Meija being an important part of 2012's rotation. (New York Times)

TACKLED: Wow. Just wow. An inebriated Red Sox fan jumped on the field late in the game in an highly ill-advised move -- after all, police and venues with large crowds are on alert for possible retaliation in Osama bin Laden's death -- and a security guard made that abundantly clear by demolishing the fan with a tackle. (YouTube)

COMEBACK TRAIL: Just over a month ago, Alfredo Simon was in a Dominican Republic jail on charges of murder. While he hasn't been cleared yet, he's getting ready to play in a game again and is expected to start Thursday for Double-A. Yes, start -- the reliever has been converted as the Orioles attempt to build up depth. (Baltimore Sun)

LEGEND GONE: Emilio Navarro passed away Sunday at the age of 105. Don't worry if you don't recognize the name, but Navarro was reportedly the oldest ex-professional baseball player who used to play in the Negro Leagues as the first Puerto Rican to do so. (New York Times)

THE BIG 8-0: Willie Mays is turning 80 years old and feels better than he has in years. (San Francisco Chronicle)

SEE YA NEXT YEAR: Andy Pettite says he's definitely not pitching this season but 2012 is a real possibility. Will the Yankees have moved on by then? (Chicago Tribune)

SEALs: The Pirates visited Navy SEALs on Monday, just a day after Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of fellow SEALs in a pre-arranged visit that received glowing reports from the squad. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

WATCH BASEBALL ON YOUR PHONE: The ability to watch video on one's phone isn't a novel concept anymore, but how crazy is it that we can watch full TV shows, movies or sports games on something that fits in your pocket? MLB is aware of the phenomenon and has a new package with special pricing out for those who want MLB.tv on their phone. (Tuaw.com)

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 10:35 pm

Frank McCourt speaks out

Frank McCourt sat down with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times to talk about the saga surrounding himself and the Dodgers. We've spilled plenty of pixels talking about the McCourt divorce and attempt to retain the Dodgers, so let's let McCourt speak for himself. Here are some juicy experts, and visit the Times for the entire interview...

First, about that pesky TV deal with FOX that will give the Dodgers the cash they need, but MLB refuses to approve it:

The investigation is going to show that the Dodgers have a cash requirement in 2011. This is not something new. This is something we shared with baseball a long time ago. It's been part of our financial plan, our financial model.

We met with baseball back in May of last year and outlined our plans going forward, and we received their blessing for our plans. At the time, we were told we were a model franchise as far as our financial performance was concerned.


And then we had meetings the following month with financial institutions. Baseball participated in those meetings. They were very supportive of the Dodgers and the financial management, I and the senior management team's financial management. We made decisions and we went forward with the plan assuming we had the support of baseball.

The fact that we had obligations coming due in 2011 was no surprise to us and no surprise to Major League Baseball. We developed a plan which eventually became the Fox transaction. We've been working on that plan, in different versions, for the last six months. That is a transaction that is now completely negotiated, ready to be signed, and ready to be closed.

OK, what else?

Q: Could you explain to Dodgers fans why you believe you are the best person to own this team?

A: First of all, I want to apologize to the fans. I want to tell them how deeply sorry I am for what has occurred over the last 18 months. I'm sorry that my personal mess has entered their lives and affected their experience being a fan of the Dodgers.

I'm sorry that some of them think that lifestyle decisions I made affected my commitment to putting a winner on the field and winning a championship for L.A.

Q: Are you saying that is simply the fans' perception, or did those decisions affect the team?

A: I'm saying it's clearly the perception of some.

Q: So you would not agree with that perception?

A: What matters is that is the perception. I'm sorry that is their perception. I'm sorry that they don't think I'm committed to them. I'm sorry that my situation has been a source of embarrassment for the community, an embarrassment for the team and an embarrassment for the fans.

Looks like someone's playing dodgeball there...

One last one, about the divorce:

I have just begun to fight. I just started.

I haven't said a word for the last 18 months. There was a reason for that. In October of 2009, when it became public that Jamie and I were separating, our four boys asked each of us to do one thing -- to not talk about the divorce, to keep it a private matter. They knew how difficult it was going to be as a private matter, let alone as a public matter.

I promised them at that time that I would not speak out publicly about the divorce, or anything related to it. I made one press statement in October of 2009 that said I was not speaking out about it, and I have been good to my word.

Recently, my boys came to me and said it was OK for me to speak out and to defend myself. I'm going to do that. I'm going to continue to do that. I love this team. I love this game. I love this community.

My hard-earned money — virtually my life savings — has been invested into this community and into this team and into this fan base. I realize I have a lot of work to do with these fans. I am going to do it.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 29, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 8:35 pm

McCourt: Selig is 'ducking' him

Frank McCourtBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Dodgers… or, well, whatever Frank McCourt is now in relation to the Dodgers, anyway… McCourt sat down with Jim Hill of CBS 2/KCAL 9 for a long interview and stopped short of saying he would sue Major League Baseball and Bud Selig.

"I'm going to protect what's mine," McCourt said. "But this isn't just about money. It's not about money. It's what's right."

In the nearly 20-minute interview, McCourt said Selig is "ducking" him and that he'd like to sit down with Selig. He also apologized to the fans, Dodger employees and his family -- well, you know, not his ex-wife, but the rest of his family.

If you're interested, the entire video is up on the station's site, and you can see it here.

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Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com