The Dodgers' owners are splitting up

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This is the sort of thing that can cause a team serious trouble:

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie, the team’s chief executive, have separated, raising questions about the potential effect of their rift on the ownership of the franchise as the Dodgers prepare to start the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies today at Dodger Stadium.

“This is a personal matter and they request that their privacy be respected. They will be making no public statements,” they said in a release issued by the club late Wednesday.

Trouble, because when a divorcing couple owns an asset valued at $722 million, in a community property state like California, there are two options: (1) one of the owners buys out the other’s share; or (2) they sell the asset and split the proceeds.

According to the article, major league officials do not believe either spouse could afford to buy out the other and still maintain a financial reserve sufficient to run the club without taking on financial partners. Sure, there is a reference in the article to the possibility of a prenup, which could short-circuit all of this, but it’s not like the McCourts were married yesterday.  They got married in 1979, and back then Frank McCourt was merely the owner of a two year-old parking lot development company. In light of that, it strains credulity that there’s a prenup in place that covers the hundreds of millions of dollars the McCourt family has earned over the past three decades, especially given the fact that Jamie McCourt — the Dodgers’ current CEO — appears to have played a much more active role in Frank McCourt’s businesses than most spouses do. And even if it arguably does, a court’s skepticism and disregard for a given prenup increase the longer a given marriage lasted.  Thirty years is a long time as far as these things go. Any prenup the McCourt’s have could conceivably be ignored.

We saw this dynamic play out in San Diego over the past year, where Padres’ owner John Moores — rich, but not in possession of all the much in the way of liquid assets — had to slash payroll and then enter into some farkakte, slow-motion sale of the team to Jeff Moorad.  It’s a situation that will, in all likelihood, serve to hamstring the Padres for several years.  Will such a thing happen in L.A.?  Frank McCourt’s lawyer is quoted in the article saying no, but then again, he’s Frank McCourt’s lawyer so he’s going to say stuff like that.  The fact of the matter is that given Jamie McCourt’s job with the team, the breakup will no doubt will cause some level of disruption even if the financial repercussions are somehow sorted out, and like I said, the chance of that happening with no drama is pretty low.

The biggest question arising all of this, however, is why the McCourts are announcing this now (this came via a Dodgers’ official statement).  The team starts the NLCS tonight and you’d think that the owners would want nothing short of 100% positive juju right now.  One possibility?  They’re just bad at P.R.  A more plausible possibility: some reporter was about to break the news on this in a way the McCourts don’t like — say, with some unflattering or even ugly details — and they wanted to get out in front of it.

Either way, this is shaping up to be a pretty damn momentous week in Dodgerland.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.