McCourtroom Ravages Regal Franchise
For most baseball teams, Opening Day arrives next week. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it came Monday, in a southern California courtroom, where the future of a famed franchise is playing out in a tabloid tragicomedy that could overwhelm everything that happens on the field this season at beautiful Chavez Ravine.
As Hollywood would have it, the Dodgers are a family that is being wrecked by a divorce. Frank and Jamie McCourt, who bought the team six years ago and quickly made themselves the celebrity faces of the organization, appeared in their own municipal McCourtroom together for the first time in a farce that could destroy the credibility they built and undermine ownership's capacity to maintain a competitive major-market operation. After successive National League West titles, the mission should be how to win a World Series championship. Instead, the payroll has been sliced drastically to $83 million, the front office didn't seek a No. 1 pitcher in the offseason, Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre has suspended talks about a contract extension and, worse yet, all the hope and positive buzz that should accompany the start of any season has been replaced by gossip-page smut.