Well, if you had Frank McCourt backing down from Bud Selig and slinking away from Dodger Stadium, you don't know Frank.
Given the news Monday that a $3 billion bailout wasn't on its way, McCourt – through his lawyers – on Tuesday threatened lawsuits challenging Selig's authority, Selig's behavior and Selig's game.
Attorney Robert Sacks urged the commissioner to "Come out from behind his curtain" so that an agreement in which McCourt could pay off his divorce and continue to run the Dodgers could be hammered out.
"If not," Sacks said, "clearly Frank is going to have to consider all his alternatives."
Including, Sacks said, "Litigation options."
"Frank's preferred option would be to sit down with the commissioner and work something out," he said. "It is not in the interest [of anyone] to have a protracted litigation."
McCourt has offered to sell a minority share in the Dodgers in exchange for Selig's approval of the proposed Fox media rights contract, according to Sacks. Previously McCourt had refused to consider selling part of the franchise, even in order to settle his divorce in the face of mounting debt and dwindling cash flow.
The game has changed, however.
A settlement in which about $170 million of the Fox advance would fund McCourt's divorce and other personal debt was not enough to sway Selig, who rejected the proposed Fox deal. And payroll must be covered at the end of the month. According to Sacks, if Selig were to reconsider, McCourt would agree to raise equity by a specified date.
Selig does not appear to be in a negotiating mood, however.
The Major League Baseball constitution states that Selig has authority to investigate transactions and occurrences and determine their merit. Also, upon purchasing the Dodgers, McCourt – like all owners – agreed not to sue or challenge the authority of the commissioner. McCourt likely would argue the commissioner has acted arbitrarily.
"He's not the almighty ruler," Sacks said of Selig. "There are limits to his authority in which he is required to act in good faith. … He doesn't have the ability to discriminate against parties."
Through a series of corporate maneuvers, McCourt has separated the Dodgers from the ballpark and the land surrounding Dodger Stadium. If Selig were to attempt to seize the Dodgers, McCourt would contend the ballpark and land remain McCourt properties.
MLB disagrees with McCourt, and would expect to take control – and eventually sell – all the Dodgers holdings.
But then, they disagree on just about everything, and likely will continue to.
"Is Bud going to pick up the phone?" Sacks demanded. "Does he intend to sit in his shell and not speak to Frank?
"The situation obviously can't go on forever in this state of limbo."
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- Frank McCourt
- Bud Selig
- the Dodgers