- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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PHOENIX -- Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, during his annual All-Star Game meeting with the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday, deflected blame for the fact Frank McCourt was allowed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from NewsCorp, saying McCourt underwent the same scrutiny as any other prospective owner.
McCourt's heavily financed purchase of the club from the parent company of Fox Broadcasting in 2004 was widely criticized at the time because of the perception McCourt didn't have enough money to properly run a big-market franchise and one of baseball's crown jewels. McCourt recently put the club into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in what appeared to be a last-ditch effort to stave off a takeover by Major League Baseball. McCourt is also trying to take out a $150 million loan from Highbridge Principal Strategies, over MLB's objection, in order to make payroll.
"Seven or eight years ago, we had a highly complicated ownership situation, even more complicated than we have now," Selig said. "When Fox sold the club to Frank McCourt -- and remember, we didn't sell the club, Fox did -- first, it went to (Fox), then it went to the executive committee, and then it went to all 30 clubs. All the information is shared with all of those people, and everyone looked at it.
"This was something Fox really wanted to get done."
Selig declined to comment on the current state of the bankruptcy case, for which the next hearing is set for July 20. MLB is seeking a ruling by the judge to force McCourt to accept league financing rather than the loan from Highbridge on the grounds the MLB financing wouldn't include the multimillion dollar fees included in the Highbridge loan.
"We are in court," Selig said. "Once you are in court, there are a lot of things I would like to say, but I can't."
The Dodgers laid out their finances through the end of the season in a bankruptcy court filing Tuesday, according to The New York Times. The filing included what the team owes in payroll, what they have to give the MLB revenue-sharing pool and when payments from a short-term loan will come in, the paper reports.
Selig did express optimism that the situation, dire as it is, will pass and that the Dodgers will emerge from it. He likened the situation to that of the Texas Rangers, who were in bankruptcy a year ago but made it to the World Series and now appear to be a healthier franchise under an ownership group headed by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.
"Last year, when I was (at the All-Star Game), I think the same questions were being asked about the Texas Rangers," Selig said. "People were saying, 'Isn't this terrible?' But it didn't turn out that way. We have a wonderful ownership there now. We couldn't have done any better. ... We will make our way through all this. This game is too healthy (not to). But in life, not everything works out exactly the way we want it to."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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