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Judge in McCourt Divorce Suggests Selling the Dodgers

Jul 15, 2010 – 2:25 PM
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Josh Alper

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Wednesday was a dead day on the field in baseball, but it was a busy day in the ongoing divorce saga that has crippled the Dodgers.

ESPN.com posted an article from the forthcoming issue of the Worldwide Leader's magazine detailing just about everything you'd ever want to know about Frank and Jamie McCourt, including the fact that the team has spent less money on the draft and international scouting than anybody else, while the Los Angeles judge overseeing the divorce case suggested that the couple sell the team to settle their squabbles about who gets control of it.

Los Angeles Superior Court Comissioner Scott Gordon put the option on the table as a way to stop the bickering couple from arguing about which of them is richer than the other as they battle back and forth about things like attorney fees and property taxes.

The parties are unintentionally pushing the court toward an interesting position -- "selling the asset which is being fought over," Gordon said Wednesday.

The judge's words shouldn't be taken as a sign that there is an end in sight to either the divorce proceedings or McCourt control of the team. It's something closer to a parent telling his children that he'll take the XBox away from them if they can't stop arguing about who gets to use it. Threaten something that big, the argument goes, and the fighting will stop so that the golden goose doesn't go away for good.

Dodgers fans might want to root for a forced sale of the team, however. In the magazine article, among the testaments to the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by the owners and stories of the way they've treated each other since their marriage fell apart is this tidbit about Frank McCourt's feelings about owning the Dodgers.

"Why would I spend $150 million to win 98 games when I can spend half that to win 90, if that's all it takes to make the playoffs in our division?"

Interesting theory, but it's hard to keep a payroll flat like that while competing in the short term and keeping the talent pipeline churning to continue competing year after year.

All along we've thought that the divorce was the thing keeping the Dodgers from spending any money on things like a farm system and player acquisitions, but it wouldn't be much different if the McCourts had a marriage as happy as one from a 1950s sitcom.

McCourt or any owner is well within his or her rights to spend as much or as little as they might like on their team, but Dodgers fans would probably be happier if the team was owned by someone willing to use their market and revenue advantages to keep themselves as far ahead of the competition as possible.
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