Good story over at the Los Angeles Times today illustrating just how gnarly things can get when litigation ensues, even if you think you have the clear high ground going in.
The upshot: Major League Baseball has been very sharp in its legal briefs thus far saying what we all know: Frank McCourt is undercapitalized and has used his team as a personal cash cow. McCourt’s logical response: “I ain’t the only one.” And he’s likely to seek the financials from other teams to prove it. Bill Shaikin notes that the Marlins may be particularly interesting given how clearly Jeff Loria was steered into the ownership chair of that team and how little of the Marlins’ revenue sharing money has been spent for baseball purposes.
In other McCourt news, there was apparently a hearing in the case this morning. It was mostly about schedules and boring stuff like that, but apparently McCourt’s lawyers argued that the Dodgers’ late season play — they’re going to finish over .500 — and the fact that Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp are leading candidates for postseason awards vindicates his management of the team and shows that it has not been harmed.
I don’t think that gets him very far — the business health of the team is every bit as important, if not more so, than the baseball health for the purposes of this proceeding — but I’m gonna be really mad if Kemp and Kershaw are even partially responsible for McCourt holding on to the Dodgers. They’re two of my favorite players right now, but I don’t think that can remain the case if that happens.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.