The McCourt Divorce could kill the Dodgers in the short term

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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 in their entirety here.

If that’s too long for you — and at 137 pages, it just may be — you can read the still-too-long breakdown I did of it over at my other blog last night. That’s probably still too much to read too, but the World Series doesn’t start until later tonight, so you’ve got some time to skim if you’re interested. In the meantime, some general observations based on the divorce filing:

First, it’s impossible to say who’s right and who’s wrong based on reading a single filing in a massive lawsuit, but if even a portion of the allegations regarding how Frank McCourt pushed Jamie McCourt out after they seemed to have built their financial fortunes together over 30 years are true, Jamie is going to walk away from this with half the Dodgers, which could either force the team’s sale, or force Frank to buy her out and run the team on a shoestring. Or, now that I come to think of it, force Jamie to buy Frank out and run the team on a shoestring.

Which of those things will happen? Well, according to Jamie, the McCourts are worth $1.2 billion, with $800 million of that worth being the value of the Dodgers. Assuming for a minute that those numbers are accurate, and assuming that Jamie is found to be the co-owner of the team as of right now, whoever walks away from the ownership in the divorce will have to either (a) pay the other all of their remaining total assets; or (b) go into hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. That suggests sale to me, though I’m sure there are some other creative options I’m not considering at the moment.  All of the options, however, would lead to ownership upheaval in some form or another.

The second observation is that, based on Jamie McCourt’s description of the Dodgers’ owners’ lifestyle — constant private jet travel at $12K an hour, hotel rooms which never cost under $1000 a night,  six dinners out a week at $400+ a pop, etc. etc. — I’m going to get medieval on anyone who suggests the players are the greedy ones who make
too much money to play a kid’s game.  No player in the game lives anything close to a lifestyle as opulent as the current Dodgers owners do, and I’m certain that all of them work just as hard at what they do as the McCourts do for their money. Everyone in the game is pretty rich, people, and it’s a business. Nothing makes that more clear than the details Jamie McCourt provides regarding the inner workings of the Dodgers here.

Oh, one final observation: don’t ever, ever, ever get married.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.