The wackiest week of Frank McCourt's ownership of the Dodgers culminated Friday in a media blitz by McCourt, a series of interviews, several one-on-one. I have talked in this space over the last few weeks of the issue of confidence, and while it may seem plainly obvious to everyone in the world that McCourt's time as Dodger owner is coming to an end, there is nobody more confident than McCourt himself. Or perhaps it's delusion.
The very basic summary of the Dodgers' current situation is this. McCourt needs cash to run the Dodgers. He already borrowed money to cover expenses for April, and will likely need to continue doing so for May, and every month going forward. There is a TV deal in place with Fox that hasn't yet been approved by MLB, one that will provide enough upfront cash to alleviate the cash needs for 2011.
Bill Shaikin of the LA Times had one of those one-on-one interviews with McCourt, and asked about the TV contract:
Q: Given that MLB has taken what you believe is a very long time evaluating this transaction, it would not be unreasonable to believe you might not get an answer in another month. What happens if you still haven't gotten an answer and you need to make payroll?
A: Any questions that MLB has can be answered in far under a month. I have instructed everybody here to cooperate fully with Mr. Schieffer and anybody else he brings in, and to give MLB any answers to any questions. We are going to cooperate fully, and we're going to do it quickly.
Bud Selig and MLB look to be waiting to approve the TV deal to see what will happen if McCourt again needs money to meet expenses. If McCourt doesn't get thrown another lifeline by Fox, that's when things will start to get ugly. For his part, McCourt remains defiant that such a thing would even happen. Tony Jackson of ESPN LA also met with McCourt on Friday:
If that approval from Selig never comes, and consequently the agreement with Fox is never implemented, what is McCourt's fallback plan to preserve his ownership?
"This is the plan," McCourt said. "Baseball knows this is the plan, and there is no reason why this plan shouldn't be approved. It is preposterous to think that the commissioner of baseball is sending someone [Schieffer] in who may or may not be a receiver at a time when we are in complete compliance with baseball's financial rules, are current on our [financial] obligations, haven't asked for a penny from the emergency fund and have a multi-billion dollar transaction ready to be signed and implemented."
As I got up to leave, shaking hands with McCourt and a couple of his top lieutenants who sat in on the interview, it occurred to me that this final answer was vintage McCourt. He has been accused at times of being arrogant, an adjective that would seem to fit a man who never believes he needs a Plan B because he never concedes in the slightest that his Plan A won't work exactly as he envisions it.
McCourt, while confident, is also seeking sympathy, using all of his several interviews yesterday to apologize to Dodgers fans. Steve Dilbeck at the LA Times isn't buying it:
He is flailing in all directions, though I remain convinced he believes every word he utters. He’s like the teenager who’s come up with some wild excuse for a boneheaded move, repeating it until he actually begins to believe his own ramblings.
He could have been defending himself against his mismanagement of the team for the last 18 months without talking divorce. Now backed into a corner by MLB, he suddenly plays his divorce like a sympathy card.
It seems when McCourt is ultimately no longer the owner of the Dodgers, a vision in the not-so-distant future, McCourt will be the last to realize it.