One thing you learn pretty quick as a litigator is that, just because you can say something, doesn’t mean you should. At least in court filings, where sometimes one’s rhetorical flourishes can go too damn far. Where one’s zealousness to make a sharp point leads one to say something in writing that they would never (one hopes) say to a person’s face. I have this feeling Frank McCourt’s lawyers are about to be reminded of this, because the filing they just made with the bankruptcy court is over the top.
I haven’t read it yet — and given its length I may not — but Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Journal is tweeting the highlights from it, and he came across a doozy. In arguing against the idea of allowing Major League Baseball to finance the operations of the Dodgers during the pendency of the case, McCourt argues that “it is well within [the Dodgers] business judgment to decline such a ‘deal with the devil.’ ”
That deal would be with Major League Baseball and its Commissioner Bud Selig. Who, yeah, has been called a lot of things before, but I’m not sure he’s been called “the devil.” And certainly not by a major league owner. And I’m guessing that a Delaware bankruptcy judge isn’t used to having a putatively sophisticated litigant before him who tosses around that kind of hyperbole in briefs during the preliminary rounds of a complicated business case.
In their weight, McCourt’s multiple arguments that he, and not Major League Baseball, is the more responsible steward of the Los Angeles Dodgers are laughable. I mean, you can only say “up is down and black is white” so many times before you lose all credibility. But I have this feeling that referring to an alternative financing plan — one that has better terms than the one he is offering — as “a deal with the devil” is going to make the judge pretty angry and put a big dent in whatever credibility McCourt and his legal team has at the moment.