Frank McCourt could file for bankruptcy

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Because the Dodgers situation isn’t complicated enough, it’s probably time to throw bankruptcy into the mix:

Major League Baseball is preparing for the possibility that Frank McCourt might take the Dodgers into bankruptcy court before the league could strip him of the team … The league is “looking hard” at that option, said a personal familiar with the matter but not authorized to comment publicly because of the potential for litigation.

In the article, Bill Shaikin talks to some bankruptcy experts who talk about what that could mean for MLB’s assumption of control over the team, Frank McCourt’s ownership interest and all of that. There’s not much in the way of consensus unless you count “man, this would really make things difficult” as a consensus.

With the all of the same “I know next to nothing about bankruptcy law” caveats I gave last year when the Rangers’ business was going down, it strikes me — and those quoted in Shaikin’s article — that a key inquiry in bankruptcy would be the Fox TV teal that McCourt claims is the key to the Dodgers well-being and which Major League Baseball is loathe to approve.

As far as that goes, I suppose it’s possible that a judge could say, yeah, that deal should happen. But (a) I’m not sure how an unconsummated deal can be an asset that a bankruptcy court could consider; and (b) even if it is, baseball could probably call a parade of experts to testify that the Dodgers could do way better on the TV side than what Fox is offering. And of course, Jamie McCourt has a stake here too, and nothing about her involvement would make this less, rather than more complicated.

All I keep telling myself here is that, however horrible this gets, at least it will forever serve as a lesson to Major League Baseball to not let litigious, greedy and cash poor nudnicks like the McCourts into the ownership club in the future.

Baseball is learning that lesson, right?

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.