The Scoop on the Spineless Frank and Jamie McCourt

Friday, July 16, 2010
Posted By Tim Johnson 10:24 PM

Kudos need to be handed out to Molly Knight and anybody else at ESPN The Magazine that had any influence on this feature about the pending divorce between Frank McCourt, the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his wife Jamie. Knight uncovers many of the sordid details that have led to the mess we now call the ownership of the Dodgers and only more will come out when the divorce trial commences on August 30. 

Reportedly, the relationship between Frank and Jamie has been trashed for a while now, so none of this is new to many of the people that have worked in the Dodgers' front office since the couple bought the team from Rupert Murdoch in 2004.

"There was a saying in the front office that that the three worst days of our jobs would be when Vin Scully died, when Tommy Lasorda died and when the McCourts decided to split," one Dodgers official said, as quoted in Knight's piece. "There was never any question it was gonna go lethal."

There are so many juicy details and quality anecdotes to share, but I don't want to step on Knight's toes too much here. I want you to go read her story for yourself. It's worth it; I've already read it twice.

But I'm going to share a tidbit from the story, a couple facts that thoroughly define everything that is frustrating about the McCourts and their handling of the Dodgers (at least on Frank's side, since he fired his wife last October).

"It was Frank's plan all along to run a team with a payroll of about $80 million," a former club official speaking on condition of anonymity said in Knight's story. "His thinking since he bought the team was: 'This isn't the AL East. Why would I spend $150 million to win 98 games when I can spend half that to win 90, if that's all it takes to make the playoffs in our division?'"

And that's the biggest problem with Frank McCourt, among other things. He bought the Dodgers because part of the deal was that with the team came Dodger Stadium and the land that the stadium sits on. McCourt is a real estate guy, a parking lot guy, not a baseball guy. 

And you can't talk me into thinking any differently. An owner who owns the team because he/she genuinely cares about the team, about the city, about winning, and about the product and experience they provide to the loyal fans is the only worth that salty peanut shells you toss beneath your feet at a ballpark and step on as you head to the parking lot on your way home. That's the owner I want. And that's the owner a franchise like the Dodgers, and its fans, deserves.

Sure, the Dodgers have gone to the playoffs four out of the six years we have called Frank McCourt the owner. They went to the National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009, losing both years to the Philadelphia Phillies. That's more success than any Dodgers fan of the current generation knows. Before '08 and '09, the Dodgers' playoff "success" was built around one win in the 2004 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Before that, Los Angeles hadn't won a playoff game since the '88 World Series against the Oakland A's.

So, yes, McCourt has brought those good memories to Dodgers fans, more than they have know in years. But here's what McCourt doesn't get: Getting to the playoffs, going to the NLCS and then going home isn't good enough. It's not nearly good enough. Fans want a winner, and by "winner," we mean the World Series, not the winner of one playoff series. 

Championships are the only things that resonate with a fan base, the small slice of cheese that keeps the goliath rat coming back year after year. Why doesn't McCourt understand that? Because he sees the Dodgers as an investment, another piece of concrete and parking lines to put money in his pocket. He obviously doesn't sympathize with his fans nor does he fully grasp what it means to be a fan and agonize over seasons and seasons of futility.

By going to the NLCS, for him, is a success. It's a success because any team makes money by going to the playoffs. McCourt pockets surpluses of revenue when the Dodgers go to the NLCS and lose, and that puts a nice little smirk on his face because his wallet just go that much fatter. But guess what Frank? That will never be good enough for the fans because the fans don't see any of that revenue. All the fans get are raised ticket prices and another year of mediocrity. That's the problem with Frank McCourt.

And it becomes a raging problem that stings the fan base because he's raking in revenue from playoff appearances and not using it to upgrade the team, to, you know, get the remaining piece or two that would allow the Dodgers to win a World Series.

No, what do the McCourts do with the money made from owning the Dodgers? Here's a couple things, all from Knight's story:

1) Spend $72.5 million on four homes that are all within 10 miles of each other in the Los Angeles area (one reason for buying a $19 million home in Malibu: their $27 million home next door didn't have adequate space to build a pool that met Jamie McCourt's desires)

2) Currently, Jamie has possession to the LA homes plus: a $6 million condo in Vail, a $4.6 million lot in Cabo San Lucas, a piece of real estate at the Yellowstone Club in Montana worth $7.7 million and a 100-acre estate on Cape Cod that is on the market for $50 million.

3) Frank spends $2 million per year on a private jet and $150,000 per year on a hairstylist that came to his house five days a week (this is funniest of all because I know what you're thinking: "$150,000 on THAT mop???" I know.. it's inconceivable) 

That's it for now, but there's much more where that came from in Knight's piece. If you're a Dodgers fan, you can only hope and pray that a judge forces the McCourts to sell the club if they can't come to a divorce settlement, as the Los Angeles Times reported.