Frank McCourt could lose the Dodgers but remain their landlord

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Remember how Frank McCourt, upon buying the Dodgers, split the team’s assets up into multiple different businesses and holding companies and things?  Yeah, that couldn’t even lead to a depressing outcome. Bill Shaikin:

When McCourt bought the Dodgers in 2004, the purchase included the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots. He has since divided those assets among separate companies, providing the embattled Dodgers owner with a possible claim to the stadium and the land even if he loses the team … In theory, McCourt could sell the Dodgers, then make more money from renting the stadium to the new owner, taking a cut of parking revenue and reaping the benefits of future development within the parking lots.

This reminds me of Wayne Huizenga and the Florida Marlins. Whereas McCourt has screwed up the Dodgers via ineptitude, Huizenga just burned the Marlins down following their 1997 World Series championship. Then, after selling the team, he held on to huge chunks of team parking and concession revenues because those things were separate from the ballclub itself.  And there was (Is? Does Wayne still have this stuff?) nothing more depressing to Marlins fans than knowing that the guy who destroyed a championship team was making more money off the Marlins than the Marlins were.

Unlike Florida, however, there could be obstacles to McCourt serving as the Dodgers’ landlord. For one thing his ex-wife will claim a stake in all of those ancillary interests, so she will either have to be bought out of them or else will they will have to be sold, with the most likely bidder being whoever ends up buying the team (and anyone who wants the club will almost certainly want the stadium too).

Shaikin also suggests that Major League Baseball could say something about it, but it’s not quite clear to me how that’s possible given that their rules apparently don’t prohibit busting up team assets like that and their authority seems to extend to management of the club, not management of the owners’ assets.

My hope is that McCourt can’t hold onto the ballpark and parking lots because he’s too leveraged to do so. Given his track record, it’s probably a reasonable hope.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.