That’s what Bill Shaikin is up to over at the L.A. Times today. At least comparing the possible solutions to it.
Shaikin notes that one possible outcome that is being discussed with the Mets is that the Wilpons would sell part of the team and maybe a stake in their television network SNY and use the money to pay off the bankruptcy trustee. Shaikin writes:
What that means is that Wilpon could sell a share in the Mets and/or SNY, the team-owned cable channel, to help finance a settlement, at $1 billion or something less. And what that means for baseball is that Wilpon would be diverting the money generated from any such sales to resolve litigation rather than to improve the team.
McCourt and his attorneys would find that extremely interesting.
Commissioner Bud Selig has so far resisted any deal in which Fox would pay McCourt a hefty sum in exchange for the Dodgers’ long-term broadcast rights. The logic: The money Fox would pay should go to improve the team, not to pay off an ex-wife in a divorce settlement.
Except I don’t see how these situations are similar. At all. In the Wilpons case it would be selling an interest in the actual network that they own, not auctioning off the team’s broadcast rights for the purposes of settling litigation. In the former case it’s the owners’ property being sold. In another it’s revenue that should, by all rights, inure to the benefit of the team itself, being diverted away from the team. Frank McCourt doesn’t own FOX Sports. His team sells the right to broadcast baseball games it plays.
A better analogy here would be if McCourt wanted to sell off his stamp collection or some other big parking lot he owns or something to pay off his wife. I’m sure that Commissioner Selig would have no trouble with that. I can totally see, however, why he’d differentiate between Wilpon using SNY sale proceeds to pay off the bankruptcy trustee and McCourt using the Dodgers’ broadcast rights to finance his divorce settlement.
So sorry Frank. Your problem may not be as big as Fred Wilpon’s problem. But your universe of possible solutions is indeed smaller.
UPDATE: There’s a lengthy and quite critical update to this post here.