Major League Baseball’s decision to reject the proposed $3 billion deal between the Dodgers and Fox TV may have some in L.A. rejoicing that the end of the McCourt’s reign as Dodger owners is finally come to an end. Not so fast – the celebration may very well be premature. Baseball has long been run under the premise that the Commissioner can essentially do whatever he wants under the premise of “the best interests of the game.” And so far, the Commissioner is pretty much undefeated.
But the McCourts/Dodger ownership issue presents a very different type of deal situation. The McCourts bought the Dodgers under a heavily leveraged deal, but one that MLB signed off on. They negotiated a TV contract with FOX that appears to have been done in good faith and for a reasonably fair price. Now MLB steps in and says we don’t trust you with the money, even though we let you buy the franchise, and we are not going to let you broker a TV deal that might benefit you personally even if it also benefits the team. The inevitable lawsuit has almost certainly already been drawn up by McCourt’s lawyers. There is no way to know how this one is going to end but one safe prediction is that it will drag out even longer than the baseball playoffs.
What is most confusing about this whole affair is why it ever came to this point. When the McCourts first began to contemplate divorce, surely they went and consulted with their respective divorce attorneys before blowing this thing up. Why in God’s name would they not have just realized that before they ever went public or ever set foot in a courtroom they needed to get their financial ducks in a row. Work out the Fox deal first, then announce the split. A cynic would say that the family law attorneys were more than happy to jump into court and start the billing cycle. But as a lawyer, I would hope that at some point some lawyer advised them just to separate, travel for awhile, keep their mouths shut and let the Dodgers get on firm ground or they were going to lose everything.
Sadly, that’s not always the way family law works. Over an over we see a slash and burn strategy that is mainly designed to slash and burn the client’s bank accounts. It is a strategy that plays into the clients anger but is it really in their best interests?