Because Bud Selig ignored his professed guidelines, he and the sport he administers are in deep trouble over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2005, when the A’s were for sale, I championed the cause of the group that had Andy Dolich as its front man.
That group couldn’t get Major League Baseball’s approval. When I phoned Selig to ask him why, he repeatedly used the phrase “due diligence,” as in “baseball has to do its due diligence in making certain the prospective buyer has the money to run the club.”
The cynical might think Selig just wanted to get his good friend, Lew Wolff, in with the A’s — and how has that worked out for you, Bud?
A year earlier, though, there had been no sign of “due diligence” when MLB approved the sale of the Dodgers to Frank McCourt. Selig was apparently warned that McCourt’s finances were a house of cards. That house collapsed with a combination of the bitter divorce suit between McCourt and his wife, Jamie, and the collapse of the national economy.
Now, the franchise is in deep financial trouble. McCourt has tried to make independent TV deals to pay costs and salaries, but Selig has blocked them and has appointed an administrator to run the Dodgers.
The next step? I wouldn’t be surprised if McCourt sues MLB. Of course, there are rules prohibiting that in the league constitution, but those rules are like any in a private organization — good only until one member challenges them. The NFL had a rule that stipulated a franchise had to have the approval of the other teams to move, but Al Davis didn’t even bother to ask for a vote before he moved the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles. The league challenged him in court and lost.
McCourt probably wouldn’t prevail in court if he files a case but, at best, there would be an exposure of how MLB operates, which the owners would hate. In any of these sports, teams don’t want to reveal what’s really going on; NFL teams refused to open their books in the current labor dispute because they don’t want anybody knowing how well they’re doing.
The Dodgers aren’t just another franchise. They have a rich history, which includes breaking the color line with Jackie Robinson. They have had great players, great managers — and they still have the best broadcaster in baseball history, Vin Scully.
When Dodger Stadium first opened in 1962, it was a marvel. Everything was so clean; it seemed hot dog wrappers were swept up before they even hit the ground. It was like baseball’s Disneyland.
Now, it attracts a new type of “fan” — the type that beats up on others, such as Giants fan Bryan Stow, to the point that the LAPD took over security at the park.
Hypocrisy defines Selig’s term. He belatedly took an anti-steroids position, but it didn’t bother him that sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were on steroids when they waged a home run race in 1998 that boosted baseball attendance.
Now, he’s embroiled in a mess with the Dodgers that could have been avoided. Selig is retiring after the 2012 season. You won’t be missed, Bud.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.