There’s not a much better way to characterize this in a headline, because it is just messiness. The upshot, though:
- Fox has the TV rights and exclusive rights to negotiate with the Dodgers over the next TV deal until sometime next year;
- The Dodgers, even though they are to be sold, would like to be able to shop around for a new TV rights deal now, presumably because they believe it will make the team more valuable;
- To that end, the Dodgers have asked the bankruptcy court if, Fox’s contract rights notwithstanding, they can shop the rights. The court is still considering that request;
- Seeing all of this, last week Fox sent a letter to the investment bank which would handle the TV rights stuff, telling it to cease and desist, citing its contract rights;
- Now the Dodgers have sued Fox, claiming that doing so interfered with their rights to shop the rights.
So yeah, a mess. A mess that seems like it will be resolved well before anyone really gets into court, however. Either (a) because the lawsuit prevents the Dodgers from finding a buyer, which they are obligated to do by next April; or (b) by the bankruptcy court ruling one way or the other on the Dodgers’ request to auction TV rights which, unless I’m missing something, would moot all of this, no?
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”