Frank and Jamie McCourt reach a settlement over Dodgers ownership

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Frank McCourt’s multi-front war to maintain control over the Los Angeles Dodgers just got a bit simpler: according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Frank and Jamie McCourt have reached a settlement regarding ownership of the Dodgers. The deal has Frank paying Jamie $130 million in exchange for her giving up a claim to ownership of the team.

Where Frank gets $130 million is an open question, but one has to think that Jamie was worried about the future. A future in which, due to how encumbered the Dodgers are, her half-ownership stake in the team could be worth very little, thus rendering $130 million a more palatable option. That is, if her half-ownership stake in the team was upheld to begin with. One hundred and thirty million birds in the hand are worth more than more in the bush, as they say.

As for Frank, this makes life a bit easier. While, yes, he still has to face Bud Selig and Major League Baseball in the final boss battle in bankruptcy court, if McCourt wins that and is able to maintain control of the team, he doesn’t have to then face Jaime in the superboss battle afterward.

For everyone else this puts to an end the sordidness and drama that has driven the entire McCourt/Dodgers/litigation fiasco for the past two years.  Yes, the bankruptcy and  Major League Baseball’s efforts to wrest control of the Dodgers from McCourt pose a more serious threat than anything else now, but it was the divorce and the attendant publicity that set all of this off, injected tabloid-style nastiness into the equation, turned Frank McCourt’s name into mud and so thoroughly turned off so many Dodgers fans.

And now it’s all over. At least, that is, if this settlement gets put to bed neatly. Which, given that the McCourts are involved, is no sure bet.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.