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A Dodger double header

The McCourts have settled their dispute over the team. Now it's on to Frank vs. Bud Selig.

October 18, 2011
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt said on Oct. 17 they settled their divorce case, putting an end to a feud that had further complicated the Major League Baseball team's bankruptcy proceedings. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters)
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt said on Oct. 17 they settled…

Two years after Frank and Jamie McCourt began their long, ugly, record-breakingly expensive battle over their divorce and their holdings, they have finally reached a truce on the most contested issue: whether the Dodgers are community property. You can have them, Jamie says. Neither has talked about the details, but The Times has reported that Jamie agreed to relinquish her claim to the team for a settlement of $130 million.

While that may put a stop to the McCourts' personal fight, it doesn't end the painful saga that Dodgers fans have had to endure, watching their team languish on the field and be put into bankruptcy. But the couple's settlement does bring us closer to a decision on the team's fate in Bankruptcy Court. Now, Frank McCourt is free to face off, unencumbered by a possible co-owner, against Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who wants the judge to order the team sold.

Even without the added burden of having to win sole custody of the team in a family court proceeding, McCourt has an uphill battle in Bankruptcy Court. His best hope for keeping the team lies with the judge granting him permission to sell the lucrative television rights to the Dodgers. Both Selig and Fox Sports, which currently holds the rights, have opposed this.

But even if McCourt is allowed to sell the rights, the judge might forbid him from using the proceeds to pay the divorce settlement. In that case, he could attempt to sell a minority share in the team, but he might end up with no choice but to sell the entire team. Meanwhile, the ballclub would be forced to continue along its rocky financial path.

That's why it would be best for McCourt to move on.

This is not about his outsized personality or his aggressive risk-taking in business. Plenty of his neighbors in Malibu, Holmby Hills and other places where he and his ex-wife bought real estate fit that profile. This is about two things: the dire reality of McCourt's financial situation and the future well-being of the Dodgers. McCourt knew when he acquired the team that this was no ordinary private business. He was also buying into a club — Major League Baseball — whose owners live by a strict set of rules, a number of which he has flouted, according to Selig.

McCourt is a tenacious businessman who is likely to fight until the bitter end. But that fight is not in the best interest of the Dodgers or the team's fans or the many ancillary businesses that make their money off the games. A decision by the Bankruptcy Court could bring the battle to an end.

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