The Dodgers’ goal in bankruptcy: a television rights auction

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The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin has been reading the bankruptcy filings this morning, and notes that Frank McCourt’s apparent end game here is to get the bankruptcy court to auction off the television rights for the Dodgers, thereby providing them with the cash they need to keep going.

The obstacles: the Dodgers’ current deal with Fox forbids them from negotiating with anyone but Fox until November of next year and, or course, the anticipated objections of major league baseball.

As for the former, the bankruptcy court could simply set that provision aside from the Fox deal or, depending on how they feel about things at the moment, Fox could simply waive it and join in an auction.  Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is likely to object to any rights auction, as it, in the normal course, has the power to approve all TV deals.  As we learned in the Rangers’ bankruptcy, however, bankruptcy courts often disagree with Major League Baseball with respect to the powers it truly possesses.

What remains problematic, however, is what would happen even if there is a rights auction like McCourt wants. Under the proposed-but-kiboshed Fox deal, a big chunk of the up-front money was going to Jamie McCourt as a means of settling the divorce case.  It seems unlikely that the bankruptcy judge would even touch that given that it’s the Dodgers who are in front of him and not the McCourts in their personal capacity (and how a judge could agree that $180 million or whatever off the top to the McCourts serves the best interests of the team’s creditors is beyond me).

So, unless I’m missing something, best case scenario for McCourt here is a rights auction that brings a lot of money, at the end of which he still has to fight with Jamie over who really owns the team.  I guess that’s better than nothing, but it’s not exactly where he wants to be either.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.