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Thoughts That Count
2004-01-21 08:57
by Jon Weisman

The words come probably too late and definitely too clumsily - read it and tell me it doesn't appear to be written by a sixth-grader - but the editorial page of the Times comes out sorta kinda against the Frank McCourt ownership bid today. I'm glad the paper did so, but it's a feeble effort, and pales in comparison to the outstanding work led by the paper's Ross Newhan over the past several days.

More impressive than the editorial is this recap from Jay Jaffe at The Futility Infielder. Jaffe touches my normally pacifist heart with these words:

I will concede that if the speculation is true that McCourt, a Boston real estate developer, is interested in buying the Dodgers so that he can build a downtown ballpark, raze Dodger Stadium and develop the Chavez Ravine land for his own devices, then there is no action on the part of Bud Selig, the United States military, or organized criminals (even disorganized ones) that I will not condone to prevent that from happening. Smite him and his seed from the earth if he so much as lifts a finger to harm that ballpark; I promise not to say, "boo."

Doug Pappas adds this at Doug's Business of Baseball Weblog:

The Los Angeles Times reports that even though Commissioner Selig has recently reiterated the importance of the debt rules in the context of the proposed sale of the Dodgers, one unnamed owner on the Executive Committee "saw no problem with McCourt buying the Dodgers entirely with borrowed money." In the words of the owner, "If he didn't have the collateral he wouldn't be getting the loans."

Then why have a debt rule at all? Without one, I could bid for the Dodgers as easily as McCourt can. If as part of my bid, I could agree to sell naming rights to Dodger Stadium, let real estate developers subdivide a chunk of Dodgertown, and auction off the next concessions contracts for a hefty upfront sum, I could offer MLB $100 million up front and finance the rest, secured by the club and its assets, without investing a dime of my own money.

If the debt rule isn't enforced to ensure that prospective owners have the liquidity and operating capital necessary to operate a club properly, its only purpose would be the one long feared by the players: a weapon wielded by the Commissioner to hold down salaries by limiting the rights of owners to sign the players they want.

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