File photo of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaking at a news conference about increased security at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

Frank McCourt calls MLB financing “a deal with the devil”


One thing you learn pretty quick as a litigator is that, just because you can say something, doesn’t mean you should.  At least in court filings, where sometimes one’s rhetorical flourishes can go too damn far. Where one’s zealousness to make a sharp point leads one to say something in writing that they would never (one hopes) say to a person’s face.  I have this feeling Frank McCourt’s lawyers are about to be reminded of this, because the filing they just made with the bankruptcy court is over the top.

I haven’t read it yet — and given its length I may not —  but Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Journal is tweeting the highlights from it, and he came across a doozy.  In arguing against the idea of allowing Major League Baseball to finance the operations of the Dodgers during the pendency of the case, McCourt argues that “it is well within [the Dodgers] business judgment to decline such a ‘deal with the devil.’ ”

That deal would be with Major League Baseball and its Commissioner Bud Selig.  Who, yeah, has been called a lot of things before, but I’m not sure he’s been called “the devil.” And certainly not by a major league owner.  And I’m guessing that a Delaware bankruptcy judge isn’t used to having a putatively sophisticated litigant before him who tosses around that kind of hyperbole in briefs during the preliminary rounds of a complicated business case.

In their weight, McCourt’s multiple arguments that he, and not Major League Baseball, is the more responsible steward of the Los Angeles Dodgers are laughable.  I mean, you can only say “up is down and black is white” so many times before you lose all credibility.  But I have this feeling that referring to an alternative financing plan — one that has better terms than the one he is offering — as “a deal with the devil” is going to make the judge pretty angry and put a big dent in whatever credibility McCourt and his legal team has at the moment.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.