As Bill Shaikin reported yesterday — and as Steve Dilbeck reveled in today — part of the some $2.34 million in legal bills thus far submitted to the bankruptcy court considering the Dodgers case is a half hour entry by an attorney for “reviewing press reports” relating to Dodgers’ $150 million loan from MLB. It cost McCourt $330 for that half hour.*
Some may want to guffaw at that, but in almost any case that gets press coverage, some poor sod — although usually a sod who bills less than $660 an hour — is tasked with reviewing press reports and putting together a synopsis for the legal team. Oftentimes a paralegal gets that job, but I had to do it before too.
Why do they bill for it? It’s simple, really: everyone tries their case in the press in these matters. You gotta know what the opponent is saying, what they’re hinting at doing. You have to assess whether there is some surface appeal to the opponents’ arguments as filtered through the press. You have to figure that someone who matters — be it the judge or a clerk who works for him — is reading it too. It’s just part of being prepared for the next hearing or the next brief.
But I’ll say this much: we were always told that our billing entries should not read “reviewing press reports” or anything like it. After all, the client is gonna read those entries and they don’t want to be reminded that they’re paying someone hundreds of dollars an hour to read the paper. Better to make it sound more legal-related: “research re: MLB loan” would be OK perhaps. If you really want to look like you’re adding value (while still saying very little that could be later scrutinized in a malpractice action) you could try “analysis of bridge loan with special attention paid to ancillary matters re: 8/12 hearing.”
Or, you could go vague. They tell you not to do this, but I worked with a guy who would write “analysis re: issues” on his billing entries. What kind of analysis? What kind of issues? Who cares! The client paid the bill anyway because it was the dotcom bubble years and no one ever looked at a damn bill back then. Now though? Hoo-boy.
*And I’m guessing that it was more than a half hour, even though that’s all that appears on the bill. I’m nowhere near a top news source for Dodgers bankruptcy stuff — I merely blog this junk — but I have noticed Google searches from IP addresses associated with the Dodgers’ law firms landing on my personal website. My guess is that the lawyers there are reading some post I did and then Googling me to see just who in the hell I am. If it took only six minutes to do it — the smallest increment normally billed — it cost McCourt $66. And that makes me feel good for some reason.
The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.
In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.
On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.
Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.