The L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin — who has been doing a whale of a job covering the McCourt divorce, by the way — reports today that the McCourts would like to settle if at all possible. While on one level that’s a no-brainer — no one wants to go through an ugly trial — it is significant in that Shaikin’s story is the first one I’ve seen in which Jamie McCourt’s people have actually said that she’d take something short of team control in order to make the madness stop.
Not that she’s laying down — she still wants 50% ownership or something close to it and an executive position, which both seem like non-starters based on what Frank has been saying for the past several months — but it’s a step down from the “I’ll get my rich friends to buy you out” rhetoric Jamie had launched previously.
In reality I’m guessing that Jamie’s position is a precursor to a demand for a cash settlement that is at least couched in terms of her interest in the Dodgers (whatever it is) being bought out. Such a settlement would allow her to declare some sort of a victory and claim that, yes, she really did own the Dodgers once while allowing everyone to avoid a fight over that property distribution agreement and who slept with who and all of that business.
As Shaikin notes, however, this doesn’t mean that life gets easier. All it really means is that a fight over who gets to control the Dodgers is transformed into a fight over how much the Dodgers are truly worth in order to value Jamie’s buyout. If the example of every single battle over franchise valuation in major sports history is any lesson, you can bet that Frank McCourt will attempt to show that the Dodgers are worthless, while Jamie will attempt to show that they’re worth seventy-gabiliion dollars.
And the sad thing is, given the state of major league baseball franchise accounting and the particular manner in which the McCourts have run the Dodgers, each side will likely have a mountain of paperwork supporting their position.