MLB seizes control of troubled Dodgers

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NEW YORK --- Major League Baseball is taking the extraordinary and historic step of assuming control of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team increasingly paralyzed by its owners' bitter divorce.

Frank McCourt: Dodgers owner plans to sue MLB, which will oversee all business and day-to-day operations of the club.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Frank McCourt: Dodgers owner plans to sue MLB, which will oversee all business and day-to-day operations of the club.

Once among baseball's glamour franchises, the Dodgers have been consumed by infighting since Jamie McCourt filed for divorce after 30 years of marriage in October 2009, one week after her husband fired her as the team's chief executive. Frank McCourt accused Jamie of having an affair with her bodyguard-driver and performing poorly at work.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told Frank McCourt he will appoint a trustee to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the club. Frank McCourt, however, has retained Sullivan & Cromwell and was preparing to sue MLB, a baseball executive familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because McCourt had not made any statements.

"I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club," Selig said Wednesday in a statement.

A person familiar with Selig's thinking said the commissioner might choose to force a sale. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because Selig's statement did not mention that.

"This is one of the great franchises. It's hard to imagine a mess like this ever having happened," former Commissioner Fay Vincent said. "It's a very sad situation. I feel very bad for baseball and for Bud."

Selig said he will appoint his representative within a few days. Former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals chief executive Stan Kasten is a possible candidate, the person familiar with Selig's thinking said. Reached by telephone, Kasten declined comment.

Selig's move came after The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Frank McCourt had arranged a $30 million loan from Fox, the team's television partner. Selig has not approved a $200 million loan from Fox to the club, which was first proposed by the Dodgers last summer, and the Times said the money was needed to make payroll.

"As the 50 percent owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I welcome and support the commissioner's actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction for the franchise and for Dodgers fans everywhere," Jamie McCourt said in a statement.

Baseball officials could not recall another instance in modern times in which the commissioner's office seized control of a team from its owner.


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