Divorce, distress in Dodgertown

By Fred Bloom

Daily Titan Staff Writer

“Dear Jamie – This is to inform you that your employment with and positions as Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairperson of Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, as well as any and all of the positions that you hold … are hereby terminated effective immediately.”

A day after the Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason, CEO Jamie McCourt received this letter from owner Frank McCourt, her husband.

And so, another installment of “As the Dodgers Turn” is complete.

The once-proud Dodgers franchise is now forced to endure an ugly he-said she-said divorce involving the owners.

In case you have not been tuning in, let me get you up to speed. Frank McCourt terminated his wife from her position as Dodgers CEO claiming insubordination and saying she had an affair with a Dodgers employee and charged a European trip to the company’s tab. Jamie attempted to get her job back in court but was denied.

There was also a 911 call made by Jamie claiming Frank was threatening her after he saw her in the swimming pool at his home with the man she allegedly had an affair with.

Divorce papers obtained by TMZ outlined the couple’s budget and Jamie is asking for over $480,000 a month in spousal support if she is not reinstated to her $2 million per year position as CEO.

The couple spent more than three-quarters of a million dollars on monthly expenses, including over $55,000 in personal expenses and nearly $7 million on private jets in 2008 and 2009.

That could have paid for a front-end starter like Cliff Lee, someone the team desperately needed.

When the McCourts purchased the franchise in 2004, they vowed to make the team a winner. Since then, they have displayed themselves as a prototype wealthy family, emphasizing charity and even being named the “Power Couple of the Year” by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2008.

Now they are disregarding their vows to each other and the fans.

Since the Dodgers fell under the ownership of the Fox Entertainment Group and Mike Piazza was traded away, it has been difficult to regain respectability.

With two-straight NL West titles and three trips to the playoffs in the four years under the McCourts, it seemed the respect was back.

But winning is not everything. The team has not won a championship since 1988, and this could possibly be the worst time to be a Dodgers fan.

The messy divorce is more embarrassing than anything a sub-par team has failed to produce on the field. The details reveal that the McCourts merely viewed the franchise as an investment.

While Frank insists that he is the owner of the franchise, Jamie has plans to get enough investors together to buy out her husband. California divorce law could give the two split ownership, which could force a sale of the Dodgers.

Two names have already popped up as potential buyers.

Mark Cuban, Internet billionaire and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, is interested in acquiring the team. Peter O’Malley, who became owner of the Dodgers when his father passed away in 1979 and owned the team until they were sold in 1998, has plans to form a team of investors in hopes of re-acquiring the franchise.

Either choice would be a welcome change. Although Cuban may spark controversy, he would most likely handle the team as he does the Mavericks, meaning he would expect to win at any cost. O’Malley would bring respect and class back to the franchise.

However, a sale could take years to complete, and the Dodgers have the pieces in place to win now.

The Dodgers are rich in history and should expect the most from the franchise, from the team to the owner’s box.

With Frank McCourt keeping possession of the franchise through the divorce process, it seems the Dodgers will not be able to pay the price to be champions.

About Fred Bloom