The McCourts go to court

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For those of you who think that tooth-and-nail competition ended with Victorino’s groundout last night, you couldn’t be more wrong. The McCourts will have the first of what are sure to be many offseason hearings in there divorce battle cum power struggle later today, and unlike some of the stuff that will come later, this one involves the Dodgers pretty prominently.

The absolute go-to website for all of this stuff is Josh Fisher’s Dodger Divorce blog, where he has all of the details as to what will be argued and what will be at stake in today’s hearing and beyond.

While I appreciate that some of you may not care to pay attention to this due to the tawdry and salacious nature of some of the proceedings thus far, there is a larger baseball point to all of it: two highly-leveraged people are fighting over ownership of one of baseball’s marquee teams. The outcome of that battle will almost certainly have a profound impact on the Dodgers’ competitive situation going forward, as well as financial implications for baseball as a whole.

Why? Because if Jamie McCourt wins, and convinces the court that she’s a co-owner, the Dodgers will almost certainly have to be sold in the divorce. At the very least, they will have to be leveraged even more than they already are, thereby choking off cash from the team.  What’s more, such a sale would probably occur under distress conditions — there would be a time frame placed on it — thereby lowering the franchise’s market value. Appreciation in franchise market value, by the way, is the single biggest reason anyone buys a baseball team. If that is negatively impacted, owners will start to behave very differently. Probably by cutting payroll and trying to make their teams a better investment from a cashflow perspective as opposed to merely an arbitrage opportunity.  In short, this is a big deal.

So come for the wild accusations, but stay for the gravitas. Either way, we plan to keep you apprised of all of the happenings in L’affaire McCourt.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.