The Dodgers’ goal in bankruptcy: a television rights auction

32 Comments

The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin has been reading the bankruptcy filings this morning, and notes that Frank McCourt’s apparent end game here is to get the bankruptcy court to auction off the television rights for the Dodgers, thereby providing them with the cash they need to keep going.

The obstacles: the Dodgers’ current deal with Fox forbids them from negotiating with anyone but Fox until November of next year and, or course, the anticipated objections of major league baseball.

As for the former, the bankruptcy court could simply set that provision aside from the Fox deal or, depending on how they feel about things at the moment, Fox could simply waive it and join in an auction.  Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is likely to object to any rights auction, as it, in the normal course, has the power to approve all TV deals.  As we learned in the Rangers’ bankruptcy, however, bankruptcy courts often disagree with Major League Baseball with respect to the powers it truly possesses.

What remains problematic, however, is what would happen even if there is a rights auction like McCourt wants. Under the proposed-but-kiboshed Fox deal, a big chunk of the up-front money was going to Jamie McCourt as a means of settling the divorce case.  It seems unlikely that the bankruptcy judge would even touch that given that it’s the Dodgers who are in front of him and not the McCourts in their personal capacity (and how a judge could agree that $180 million or whatever off the top to the McCourts serves the best interests of the team’s creditors is beyond me).

So, unless I’m missing something, best case scenario for McCourt here is a rights auction that brings a lot of money, at the end of which he still has to fight with Jamie over who really owns the team.  I guess that’s better than nothing, but it’s not exactly where he wants to be either.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
27 Comments

In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.