LOS ANGELES -- Steve Soboroff, the local civic leader and political operative who was hired by Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt as vice chairman one day before Major League Baseball took over the team and eventually sent in former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer to oversee the club's finances, resigned on Saturday, citing that MLB oversight as the reason.
In his resignation letter to McCourt, Soboroff wrote that "an unanticipated action by the commissioner of Major League Baseball resulted (understandably) in elevating the resolution of 'control and ownership' issues to top priority, as it remains to this day. As a consequence, it is not possible for me to effectively work on the very initiatives and contributions that you had hired me to implement."
Soboroff was hired in mid-April primarily to, in the words of a news release issued at the time, "(lead) efforts to improve the fan experience at the stadium." The hiring came in the wake of heavy public criticism of the Dodgers following the Bryan Stow beating on Opening Day and amid general concerns that Dodger Stadium was attracting an element that made many fans feel it was no longer a safe place.
Soboroff often was seen during games walking around the stands visiting with fans and listening to their concerns about the ballpark experience. It isn't clear whether any of what Soboroff heard during those encounters led to any significant changes.
Soboroff was hired by McCourt seven months after he wrote an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times in support of the embattled Dodgers owner, and Soboroff made it clear in his first interview with local media on the day he was hired that he remained firmly in McCourt's camp. In fact, at a time when it already seemed reasonably apparent that McCourt's ownership of the club was in jeopardy, Soboroff attempted in that interview to paint a rosy picture of the situation, saying McCourt's ability to maintain ownership of the club was a "non-issue.''
Soboroff also said that day that "there is no question in my mind (that) Frank McCourt is financially fine.'' McCourt now appears in grave danger of not being able to make payroll on June 30, which could result in MLB taking over the club.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.