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Dodgers file for bankruptcy

The sun shines on Dodger Stadium, but the storied franchise remains under a dark cloud.

Associated Press

The sun shines on Dodger Stadium, but the storied franchise remains under a dark cloud.

LOS ANGELES — One of baseball's proudest franchises is in tatters, its future to be decided more in the courtroom than on the field.

The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday, blaming Major League Baseball for refusing to approve a multibillion-dollar TV deal that owner Frank McCourt was counting on to keep the troubled franchise afloat.

McCourt, upset that commissioner Bud Selig rejected the proposed TV deal last week, hopes a federal judge will approve $150 million in financing to be used for daily operations, which would give him more time to seek a more favorable media contract. A hearing is set for today.

"The action taken today by Mr. McCourt does nothing but inflict further harm to this historic franchise," Selig said in a statement.

The team is bleeding red ink instead of Dodger blue, with former players filing millions in claims against the team. Even beloved Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully is owed more than $150,000 as part of his contract, court documents show.

The filing by a cash-starved McCourt comes three days before he was expected to miss a team payroll and possibly be confronted with an MLB takeover.

Legal observers expect MLB to contest McCourt's request for filing bankruptcy, arguing the dispute should remain within the confines of baseball and that the league's constitution allows Selig to take control of a team that seeks Chapter 11 protection.

The main issue is whether "the bankruptcy court maintains control of the proceedings or acquiesce to baseball," said Edward Ristaino, who chairs the sports practice at the law firm Akerman Senterfitt.

"For somebody who grew up as a Dodger fan since he was 6 in Brooklyn, this makes me very, very sad," said Bob Daley, the Dodgers' managing partner when Rupert Murdoch's Fox Corp. sold the team to McCourt in 2004.

The Boston-accented real estate developer bought the team in a highly leveraged $430 million deal that was the second highest for a baseball team at the time.

He became the fourth owner in franchise history, and the sale marked the return of the team to family ownership, although the McCourt clan has been nothing like the O'Malleys.

The O'Malleys owned the Dodgers or a stake in them for more than 50 years, an old-fashioned tenure of stability and tradition. Any problems were kept in house, and employees were treated like family.

The O'Malley family's business was baseball. The McCourt family's business has become everybody's business.

Two years ago, McCourt and his wife and former team CEO, Jamie McCourt, decided to divorce, prompting a tawdry fight over who owns the team. Their court filings revealed a lifestyle of excess, extreme even by the standards of Los Angeles' super-rich: multiple lavish homes, private security, country club memberships, even a six-figure hair stylist on call for the couple.

Daley rues the day the team was sold to McCourt.

"Fox, myself, and MLB made a horrible mistake in not doing the proper due diligence on Frank McCourt," he said. "I helped get him approved, and for my piece, I feel very bad about it."

In other Dodgers news, closer Jonathan Broxton had another MRI exam to discover why he continues to feel soreness in his right elbow. Broxton was shut down from his rehab assignment this weekend.

JETER'S REHAB: Yankees SS Derek Jeter, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf, took batting practice on the field for the first time and started a running program at the team's spring facility in Tampa.

BREWERS: RHP Sergio Mitre was designated for assignment, and LHP Zach Braddock and INF Mat Gamel were recalled from Triple-A Nashville.

CARDINALS: 3B David Freese and utilityman Nick Punto were activated from the 15-day disabled list. INF Pete Kozma and OF Andrew Brown were optioned to Triple-A Memphis.

CUBS: OF Marlon Byrd began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa five weeks after suffering facial fractures from a beaning. Byrd is wearing a special protective helmet with a plastic faceguard that extends from the ear.

INDIANS: RF Shin-Soo Choo's broken left thumb won't be examined until today, when he will likely have surgery. Choo is expected to miss as long as six weeks. … 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, one of the team's top prospects, was called up from Triple-A Columbus. Veteran INF Adam Everett was designated for assignment.

NATIONALS: RHP Stephen Strasburg, whose phenomenal rookie season was cut short by elbow ligament replacement surgery in September, threw fastballs at full speed for the first time since his surgery.

PADRES: RHP Aaron Harang, on the disabled list since June 10 with a sore right foot, threw a bullpen session Sunday but is unlikely to rejoin the rotation before the All-Star break.

TWINS: C Joe Mauer took some ground balls at first base and said he's willing to play the position from time to time to help the team.

Dodgers file for bankruptcy 06/27/11 [Last modified: Monday, June 27, 2011 9:28pm]
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