NEW YORK (CBSNewYork / AP) – Commissioner Bud Selig is taking away control of the L.A. Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt, whose troubled finances have seemingly paralyzed the once-proud franchise.
Sound somewhat familiar?
Selig’s move might be seen by some as a precedent should the Mets have additional financial problems. With owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz under pressure from a lawsuit tied to the Bernard Madoff swindle, the Mets borrowed $25 million last year from Major League Baseball.
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“I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club,” Selig said in a statement.
Some might say “Dodgers” could easily be replaced by “Mets.”
According to Forbes, the Mets lost 13 percent of their worth amid legal and debt problems. Listed by the publication at $858 million last year, the franchise is now valued at $747 million.
The New York Times also paints a bleak picture. The franchise lost nearly $50 million in 2010, the paper reported last month.
The Times cited two people briefed on the team’s finances. New York’s losses are projected to hit another $50 million or more this season based on several factors, including advance ticket sales.
Ex-Montreal Expos manager and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson told the New York Post in March that the Mets’ players will “hear it from the loudmouths in the stands” all season long. Robinson should know a thing or two about it — the Expos were under MLB’s control during his tenure.
“My players were jaded by the time I got there, because they had been hearing rumors about the team for a few years,” he told the paper. “For the Mets, it’s all new. It’s going to be a distraction.”
So the players might get razzed from the grandstands. But could the Wilpons “hear it” from Selig?
“The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports,” read Selig’s statement, “and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future.”
However, unlike the McCourts, Wilpon is a longtime friend of Selig.
“(The Dodgers are) one of the great franchises. It’s hard to imagine a mess like this ever having happened,” former commissioner Fay Vincent said. “It’s a very sad situation. I feel very bad for baseball and for Bud.”
In February, Vincent sounded off on the Mets’ loan from MLB.
“Any time a team has to come to baseball for money, it’s a great concern,” he told the Post. “Other teams have to be worried. There are implications for everyone.”
The Mets’ embattled owners filed legal papers last month disputing a court trustee’s claim that they owe more than $1 billion because they should have known their investments with Bernard Madoff were fraudulent. In January, Wilpon and his son, Jeff, announced they were looking into selling a stake in the franchise because of “uncertainty” caused by the lawsuit.
Hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen is said to be the front-runner for the Mets’ partial-purchase.
Should Major League Baseball step in and take control over the Mets? Sound off in the comments below…
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