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The Jig Is Up
2004-01-18 08:15
by Jon Weisman

In the Times and (finally) Daily News sports sections today, there are six stories describing the flaws with Frank McCourt's Dodger ownership quest and the promising alternative in Eli Broad's backup proposal.

Caveats are these: Broad has often been a proposer, not a closer. Peter O'Malley, who may be joining Broad's effort after his offer to help McCourt was apparently spurned, is not God. And Broad himself is asking for loans and credits, as well as higher payments from Fox for the Dodger television rights.

But Broad has certainly closed on plenty - Disney Hall being a prime example. And the help that Broad is asking for is minor compared to what McCourt is needing. And even if O'Malley is not God, he does define integrity when it comes to operating a baseball team.

Even without Broad's 11th-hour apperance, McCourt's bid to buy the Dodgers should have been rejected on its merits. The Daily News, silent on this story for more than a week, finally decided to write about it and - lo and behold - found a gaggle of material highlighting the McCourt bid flaws. In particular, Rich Hammond has a great article today. I don't understand why it took so long for the Daily News to start covering this freight train jumping the tracks - think about how unconscionable it would have been if the Times had followed suit and the story was ignored - but at least the Daily News is starting to make up for lost time:

"It could turn into a big mess," said one source familiar with details of the McCourt transaction. ...

"I'd give him three years before he has to sell the team," another source said. "He will either realize he can't do it, or he just won't be able to make payroll."...

"It's like a high school kid who convinces his dad to buy him a car," said David Carter, a Redondo Beach-based sports consultant and USC professor. "He gets the car, but then he realizes he can't afford to buy the gas. I think Dodger fans should be concerned that, in this case, they're going to be the ones buying the gas."

Without backing, McCourt would have significant trouble running the team, and sources say he has been rejected by several potential partners because of concerns about his finances and because investing in the Dodgers is considered risky business. ...

"On many levels, it doesn't look good," Carter said. "I think the fact that the deal is almost entirely funded through loans makes it a big risk for Major League Baseball."

With Broad on the horizon - even if he is not a closer - how in any way can baseball's owners approve McCourt. It would be like signing Darren Dreifort to a long-term contract with Pedro Martinez still available on the free agent market.

The deadline for baseball to approve McCourt's bid is January 31. Bluntly, it should not take that long for the bid to be rejected.

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