High-ranking Dodgers representatives met Tuesday in New York with Major League Baseball executives in a late effort to keep embattled Frank McCourt as owner of one of baseball's marquee teams, sources told SI.com.
McCourt and his people have been asking MLB for months to approve a $200 million loan from Fox as an advance on a possible TV deal with the Dodgers. Commissioner Bud Selig is reportedly leery of Fox fronting money to McCourt after the Dodger owner's embarrassing public divorce revealed enormous personal spending and a lavish lifestyle that has left him, in the words of one person familiar with the situation, "in hock."
There is no evidence yet that Selig is inclined to bail out McCourt, who has previously tried and failed to get the commissioner's OK on the Fox loan. McCourt needs to raise approximately $200 million to settle his divorce and keep the team.
Other ideas beyond a Fox loan are believed to have been discussed in Tuesday's meeting in an effort to appease MLB. But McCourt may face an uphill battle since many of the other 29 owners generally disapprove of how he has operated (though several admitted to closely following the divorce case). It is unknown whether McCourt attended Tuesday's meeting. Selig did not.
McCourt apparently either has reached or is close to a lucrative TV deal with Fox that he believes will allow him to buy out his ex-wife, Jamie, who won the first round in a Los Angeles court in her claim for half the team. The Los Angeles Times reported McCourt is near a settlement with his ex-wife that would allow them to keep the team. But that may hinge on MLB's approval of the $200 million Fox loan, which would represent an early payment on a TV deal that could be worth as much as $3 billion over 20 years, according to the Times.
The Dodgers have been estimated to be worth about $800 million by Forbes, and without the advance money, it appears clear McCourt could not afford the team on his own.
MLB people declined comment on Tuesday's meeting and, as they have in the past, anything to do with the McCourt case. McCourt also declined comment through a spokesman.
While the Dodgers made back-to-back appearances in the NLCS and have generally done well on the field under the McCourts, embarrassing details from their ugly divorce -- such as inflated team salaries for McCourt's sons and a lavish lifestyle that includes multiple Southern California mansions -- have seriously damaged McCourt's stature.
Should Selig again reject McCourt's overtures, McCourt could try to sue baseball, as the Times suggested he might. But that is a dicey proposition since McCourt signed a standard agreement upon taking ownership that he would not sue MLB.
Some have suggested the mere prospect of a lawsuit against MLB might be effective because McCourt's lawyers could threaten to make public financial documents of other teams. But MLB may not see this as a realistic possibility since the relevance of other teams' finances to the Dodgers' case is in question. Indeed, the Dodgers case seems to be unique to itself.