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Someone save us from the gloom that is Frank McCourt

February 24, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt being interviewed in his stadium office.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt being interviewed in his stadium office. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

So how’s that depression going? If my chin were any lower, my navel would file a restraining order.

There are 36 days left until Frank McCourt is required to pick the winner of this tortuous auction. That’s 36 days until we find out who the new Dodgers owner is and if he also purchased the stadium parking lots.

One thing you have to give McCourt, he always said it was the team and stadium that were for sale, and not the surrounding parking lots. He has been consistent. Still, the assumption was always that that was largely a negotiating ploy to squeeze hundreds of millions more out of the sale.

And you hope it is, but two days after it was learned that Joe Torre and Rick Caruso dropped their bid because McCourt was unwilling to include the parking lots, it is hard to fight the feeling that McCourt is never going away.

A dark cloud envelops Dodger Stadium, a shroud around all of Los Angeles, the gloom so thick as to be palpable. Misery in arms.

Wrote The Times’ Bill Dwyre: “McCourt's chutzpah is amazing. Unless he is bluffing, he wants to park cars in the one spot in the entire world where he is least wanted.”

Wrote Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A.: “Rick Caruso and Joe Torre just reminded everyone of how dangerous it is to underestimate McCourt's avarice.”

Wrote Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan: “Nice of the commissioner to have given a despicable owner all of this control.”

The Newhan reference is to Commissioner Bud Selig first approving McCourt pulling the parking lots into a separate entity in 2005 and then permitting him to not include them in the sale of the team.

I still would love it if all the bidders pulled out if McCourt insisted on retaining the parking lots, but it’s not like I hold out actual hope. As wildly pricey as the property is, it is the team that holds the greatest value. You just know someone is still going to be willing to write a huge check for the team and stadium.

The new owner would inherit a lease on the parking lots that costs $14 million a year, with an increase in 2015 and then again every five years. The length of the lease is unknown, although McCourt has said a loan requires the team to play at Dodger Stadium until 2030.

So what would happen toward the end of an 18-year lease if the new owner decided it was time to build a new ballpark downtown? And he left an abandoned stadium in the middle of all that McCourt property? Not that McCourt has sued anyone.

I know, it’s depressing. It’s all so depressing. They don’t make uppers for an entire metropolis, unless in this case, it’s that McCourt has sold it all.

Also worth noting on the web:

-- The Times’ Dylan Hernandez looks at the potentially divided closer role between Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen.

-- The Times’ Bill Shaikin on the judge saying McCourt will find it difficult to get Bryan Stow's family’s legal claims dismissed in bankruptcy court.

-- The Register’s Howard Cole thinks Matt Kemp’s goal of 50 homers and 50 steals is too much about individual achievement and not enough about winning.

-- ESPN The Magazine’s Molly Knight profiles head trainer Stan Conte, who dreams of a day when injury prevention is so understood that a team would not have to use the disabled list.

-- Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick looks at right-hander Chad Billingsley, who admits he can do better.

-- Finally a positive outlook on the team’s 2012 chances, from Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter.

-- ESPN N.Y. said Russell Martin, make that All-Star Russell Martin, might have his new one-year, $7.5-million contract torn up by the Yankees and replaced by a three-year deal.

ALSO:

Matt Kemp 'happy' Ryan Braun wasn't suspended

Jerry Sands is happy with this day job

Rick Caruso, Joe Torre explain why they're out as Dodgers bidders

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