Bud Selig Nudges Frank McCourt Closer to the Door

Wanted to get to this last night, but it’s too good to pass up, because there’s good news for those who like bad news for the McCourts. Bill Shaikin with yet another great scoop:

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has rejected a proposal under which Fox would have lent about $200 million to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, three people familiar with the discussions told The Times.

McCourt would have used the Dodgers’ cable television rights as collateral, extending the team’s current contract with Fox by as many as four years if he did not repay the loan, according to the individuals, who were briefed on the proposal but who are not authorized to discuss it.

That, my friends, is what we call a sign, a pretty big sign that you’re not wanted in the club any longer. Selig may not have the power to outright force McCourt from ownership, but there’s plenty he can do to make it difficult. Selig scuttled a similar loan proposal to deadbeat Texas owner Tom Hicks last year, and that played a large part in forcing the Rangers into the hands of new ownership.

This is mostly a win for Dodger fans, because besides for the obvious great news that McCourt looks to be in even further trouble, not accepting the loan both avoids further indebting the team to FOX and keeps open the possibility of larger TV payments down the road. (Had McCourt defaulted on the loan, FOX could have extended the broadcast contract for years at far below market rates.) Yes, I realize some will point out that any future owner isn’t necessarily going to be the white knight we all hope for, and if the Dodgers’ valuation tumbles because of this it may open the door to another underfunded owner. This is a real possibility, and the grass isn’t always greener. But I think we’d all take the gamble that someone else may or may not be better than stick with the near-certainty that what we have now isn’t cutting it, right?

Of course, it’s difficult to know how this affects the short term? If McCourt was willing to mortgage the future like that, he may well be in an even worse situation than we know, though to be fair the Dodgers did spend more on free agents this winter than anyone expected. Still, this is a good step in the direction we all want, and that’s a McCourt-free future.

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