Like some of you, I’m a Dodgers fan and in the last few days I couldn’t have been happier to find out that Bud Selig took over the financial operations for Frank McCourt and the Los Angeles Dodgers. For most Dodger fans, myself included, it was a long time coming. While McCourt has been at the helm of the Dodgers only two postseason series wins since the 1988 Wold Series, he has been a publicity joke with his divorce proceedings, which has cost him millions of dollars and marginalized the Dodgers. The mass dislike of McCourt stewardship of the Dodgers was galvanized by the way in which McCourt initially said that nothing could have prevented Bryan Stow’s Attendance is down, and Dodger Blogger Jon Weissman suspects that it’s a large scale, yet individually decided, form of protest. Outside of Dodgers’ Vice Chairman Steve Soboroff, you’d be hard pressed to find a McCourt fan. Selig acted swiftly, and some even think that this take-over isn’t just a time out for McCourt, but the end of the McCourt reign over the Dodgers. Buster Olney writes:
Time will tell if McCourt has more, if he will take legal steps. But a rival executive who has shared a table with him at owners’ meetings has doubts about that. “Why would he want to do that?” said the executive. “He’s not going to win — these guys [MLB] are going to go after him — and all it would do is cost him a lot of money and aggravation.
“When he took over the Dodgers, he actually didn’t come in with a lot of money. Bud will make sure he’ll get a good sale price for the team and he’ll walk away with millions. The value of that team will probably be something like $750 million, so he’s going to leave with a lot more money than he put into the team.”
Bud Selig comes off as a no-nonsense commissioner who won’t abide any tomfoolery by anyone (other than steroid users until 2004), even the owners. Maybe Selig derives his confidence from his own days as being an owner of the Brewers, but he has been shockingly forward in addressing the largely disliked and personally struggling owner of the Dodger franchise, especially since the Dodgers have been better under the McCourts than any Dodger team in the last 22 years. For any Clipper fan, or NBA fan, really, this begs the question of how Bud Selig would potentially handled the issue of Donald Sterling owning the Los Angeles Clippers. For those that see the immediate financial distinction between Sterling and McCourt, be sure to read the Michael Schmidt and Richard Sandomir article in the New York Times on Major League Baseball’s takeover of the Dodgers. After the article delves into the financial complexities of the takeover, they leave the reader with a small nugget of past Selig muscle.
Through suspensions and strong persuasion, Selig and other baseball officials pushed Marge Schott out as the lead owner of the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, largely for her insensitive remarks about ethnic groups.
In some ways she was a lovable underdog, constantly fighting the “good old boys club” as she called the baseball establishment. But Schott had other problems, two of which paralleled some of Sterling’s own. She was known as a notorious cheapskate, Warren Corbett of The Baseball Biography Project detailed that she refused to pay for Eric Davis’ return from an Oakland hospital after the star outfielder was injured in the 1990 World Series and left behind in medical care. And then there were her racist comments and a racial discrimination suit.
In 1991 a former Reds’ executive sued Schott, claiming he was fired because he objected to her refusal to hire black people.
Unlike McCourt, Selig forced out Schott without the financial problems as the basis, but because of the racial controversies, which would lead you to believe that Selig would not stand for any of Donald Sterling’s antics. And yet, Selig’s counterpart in the NBA, David Stern, has done almost nothing with all of the suits brought forth towards Donald Sterling. Even the Department of Justice has gone after The Donald, these aren’t just petty claims. At this point there are no options to curtail Donald Sterling, he’s his own force, but Commissioner Stern should emulate Selig’s moves and save an LA sports franchise.