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T.J. SIMERS

Frank McCourt won't own up to his responsibilities

McCourt is fighting desperately to remain as Dodgers owner, but through it all he's done nothing to curry favor with fans, foster goodwill or act in any way like the owner of a major franchise should.

October 10, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt gives an interview in his office at Dodger Stadium earlier this year.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt gives an interview in his office at Dodger Stadium… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)

I'm going to Delaware at the end of the month because there's a chance a bankruptcy judge will side with Major League Baseball — in effect forcing Frank McCourt to sell the Dodgers.

I'd follow the Parking Lot Attendant to the end of the Earth, Delaware probably qualifying, if there's a chance to wave goodbye.

Frank will probably be wearing a custom-made suit, and a different one each day we're there. He might even win the award for fanciest-dressed pauper to ever appear in Bankruptcy Court.

I'm told Jamie doesn't have to be there, but I don't know how she can resist wearing a little something bought with Frank's support payments.

Whatever they continue to spend on clothes, it's probably more than what the Dodgers were paying their starting shortstop at season's end.

That's just one of the things I don't get about Frank, who has been mocked publicly and criticized by MLB for spending like crazy. Yet here he is calling a luxurious Beverly Hills hotel his home.

As much as he seemed to care about his image early on, why not show some fiscal responsibility and get a good night's sleep at a Holiday Inn Express? It's supposed to make a big difference; maybe he ought to have his team stay there as well.

Now I know I won't get a chance to talk to Frank in Delaware other than to greet him as I did outside an L.A. courtroom: "How's it going, big guy?''

I think I'm the only one who still calls him "big guy" and yet he's not very appreciative.

And although this might sound strange, I really want to talk to Frank. I called the Dodgers to see if we might chat. The PR guy emailed to say, "I checked. No thank you.''

Yet there's so much I don't understand as we near the end of the Parking Lot Attendant's reign.

People get divorced all the time, but this has become a fiasco while so immersed in his legal briefs. It's hard to give him the benefit of the doubt as Dodgers owner when he has allowed the Dodgers experience to go to seed.

Does Frank really believe when all this is over, he can continue to own the Dodgers? There was a time when folks asked for his autograph, so there was a time when I could understand his being delusional.

But he has to know he must come across differently if he's ever to work again as Dodgers owner. So why hasn't he?

I've lost track of the number of lawsuits, and as many lawyers as he has in his employ, I wonder whether he would be more successful naming everyone on his legal team, or identifying his 25-man baseball roster.

Everyone around here seems to understand Frank is finished except Frank, who fights to remain.

But forget all the legal mumbo jumbo; if McCourt is really serious about being the owner of the Dodgers, then why isn't he acting like one?

Whatever one's opinion of Bud Selig might be, if it comes down to the best interests of baseball it's hard to side with Frank the way he has turned his back on the Dodgers' decline.

It's Frank who is responsible for emptying Dodger Stadium. It's Frank who has made the Dodgers irrelevant. It's Frank who continues to keep the Dodgers hostage, the team's future residing somewhere in limbo.

He should be embarrassed, but he has a better reason to do what he can to instill some hope in those who have been emotionally invested in the Dodgers for so many years.

So why is he hiding from those who desperately hope for better days ahead?

He pulled his office out of the stadium. He talked to his rookie manager twice this season. He stopped sitting in his field box adjacent to the dugout, no doubt hearing a thing or two from the fans — the truth hurting.

But you know what? Donald Sterling sits at center court, almost everyone in the building sitting behind him with the chance to tell him what they think.

Sterling's record as owner is abysmal, and although he should top the list of owners in hiding, he puts his picture in the paper almost every day.

He has tried to sign free agents in recent years, acting more like an owner than Frank, and what does that say about Frank?

Why isn't McCourt, who has called himself the Dodgers' steward, acting like a guy who believes he will be the owner of the team when all the lawyers are paid off?

That's the first question I'd like a judge to ask him: "If you want to hang on being owner of the Dodgers so badly, Mr. McCourt, then why have you abandoned them?"

Lots of people have blundered, or embarrassed themselves, yet folks routinely forgive so long as they believe the blunderer genuinely wants to do better.

What has Frank done to merit such consideration?

Why isn't he sitting with some of the no-harm, no-foul media in town telling fans he's committed to spending money on Matt Kemp as well as going after top free agents?

Do you believe anything Ned Colletti has to say?

I don't. He's The Schmoozer, a former PR guy with the gift of spin. It's not Colletti's money, and I doubt he knows how much money McCourt has left from his last loan.

It's McCourt who should be holding himself accountable, and publicly. If he doesn't want to answer some questions, he knows how to stonewall. I've watched him give testimony on the witness stand.

If it's McCourt's team, then he should have taken ownership when the going got tough.

He didn't. And beyond everything else he has gotten wrong, he has now blown a second chance to get it right.

And so goes his Dodgers legacy: The wrong man to own the team, and he always has been.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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