Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To meet payroll, Frank McCourt cashed in on future sales...once again

Nobody likes you, Frank. Sell the team already.
Frank McCourt was able to meet the Dodgers' team payroll by drawing cash advances from future sponsorship deals, as reported by Molly Knight.

It seems impossible that McCourt can pull this off every two weeks. In June, it gets worse as $6 million in deferred salary to Manny Ramirez becomes due. He'll have to devise some other clever ways to leverage the club's future. Dodger Dog futures?

Knight also reports that sponsors were offered discounts as an incentive to pay up front. In Jamie McCourt's eyes, the end result of this trade-off is reduced revenue. Plus, with about 7000 fewer fans a day passing through the turnstile, no wonder Jamie recently told a judge that her ex-hubbie's mismanaging of the Dodgers is causing the team's value to go down the toilet.

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but the new owner won't like it either that McCourt has already sold future sponsorship deals.

Parole department omission may have delayed apprehension of Bryan Stow beating suspect

According the San Francisco Examiner, Giovanni Ramirez would have been identified sooner, but oops! Someone in the state's parole department didn't bother to enter into the computer database "key descriptive details" that include a really obvious teardrop tattoo and a Dodger logo neck tattoo.

Back when Ramirez was apprehended, I predicted that the parole department would get flack for their lax monitoring of parolee Ramirez. I won't take credit for something that was so blatantly inevitable. Remember, it's not the first time a California parole officer failed to live up the standards of his or her occupation.

The Examiner article also confirms that Ramirez is a member of the Boyle Heights-based LA Varrio Nuevo Estrada street gang.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

McCourt pulls a $9.8 million rabbit out of his hat; Dodger Stadium fire (updated)

Per ESPN, McCourt has "apparently" met payroll this month, thereby managing "to stave off the latest concern that could threaten his ability to retain the team."

The $300 million up front should alleviate most of McCourt's short term financial ills.

TV revenue trumps ballpark revenue. Do you trust McCourt with $3 billion? Would you trust Al Qaeda with a nuclear missile? With $3 billion guaranteed over twenty years, what incentive does McCourt have to reinvest in payroll? I see not only fans getting screwed, but Fox as well. If attendance continues to decline, TV viewership will tail off too.

Dodger Stadium on fire
A small fire has erupted at Dodger Stadium. Vin Scully has announced that the fire started in a warehouse, perhaps a stash of old Manny wigs. Meanwhile, McCourt's in his Beverly Hills room playing the fiddle. LA Times just posted a link minutes ago.

Courtesy of AV Fire News via Twitter
Courtesy of LA Times
A pathetic observation about tonight's game
Sparse Dodger Stadium looked like a Marlin home game. See pics below.

Courtesy of AV Fire News via Twitter
Dry May 
Per Joe Block via Twitter, the Dodgers have scored 0 or 1 runs ten times in May and are 0-10 in those games.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Matt Kemp's 100th home run ball

Upon arriving at Dodger Stadium today, Matt Kemp proudly received this baseball commemorating his 100th career home run.

I'll take painted balls over painted nails any day. Congrats to Matt Kemp!!

No formal charges yet against Giovanni Ramirez.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck believes they have a solid case against Giovanni Ramirez, the suspect arrested in the beating of Bryan Stow, according to the LA Times.

Nevertheless, Beck admits that he is not yet ready to bring formal charges against Ramirez: "We continue down that road in our preparation of presenting a case to the district attorney in the near future. But we will not present that case until we have an abundance of evidence, and we have looked at a number of things that are still being examined."

Twenty detectives continue to work on the investigation, as emphasized by the Chief.

On Wednesday, LAPD released a statement saying that investigators were "satisfied with the results" of the lineup at Men’s Central Jail, but shied away from going into any details on the matter. Both sides have agreed not to release any information about what happened during the lineup.

All of this has raised speculation that Ramirez was not properly identified.

This begs a question. Why were cameras not installed at the entrances of Dodger Stadium prior to the date of the attack to monitor who goes in and out of there? No lights. No cameras. No action on the part of security team, who chose to bury their heads rather than impose measures to improve safety at Dodger Stadium.

Is there any doubt that the Stow family will win their negligence lawsuit against the Dodgers?

So, investigators have no photographic or video evidence of Ramirez in or around Dodger Stadium on opening day. But family members have released pictures of him not at Dodger Stadium on the day of the attack. Go to TMZ, and you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dodgers can't produce runs; McCourt can produce $9.8 million out of thin air

Tony Jackson writes about the a familiar Dodgers plague: the woeful lack of hitting with men in scoring position.

Steve Dilbeck wonders where Frank McCourt found the money to fund payroll?

Buster Posey's agent wants MLB to consider a rule change in light of  his client's injury, per ESPN.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When Frank McCourt tells MLB he can meet payroll next week, do you believe him?

According to the LA Times, Frank McCourt has told MLB that he expects to meet the Dodgers' payroll obligations next week. McCourt needs about $9.8 million to meet the May 31 payroll; however, the amount will increase in June when more than $6 million in deferred compensation to Manny Ramirez becomes due. He's back!

If McCourt can meet the May 31 payroll deadline, it will buy him approximately two weeks with MLB to accelerate efforts to settle his divorce and secure approval of the Fox television contract that's buried under dust and a pile of bratwurst casings on Bud Selig's desk. Sadly for McCourt, sources close to Selig seemingly have this little habit of issuing statements that run somewhat contrary to the team owner's ultimate ambition of retaining ownership. The Times reports:
Commissioner Bud Selig is "not anxious to get embroiled in a marital dispute," according to a person familiar with his thinking. The person also said that Fox's plan not to move forward with the contract unless Jamie McCourt agrees not to challenge it has left Selig with the belief he has no deal to consider. "As of right now, there's nothing for him to do," the person said. 
With all the cards stacked against him, McCourt pushes on.

Suspect identified in lineup:
In the Bryan Stow beating investigation, the Daily News reports that suspect Giovanni Ramirez was identified in a photo lineup and that LAPD says it was "satisfied with the results" of the live lineup.

Beating suspect crying in his cell

Per KFI's Eric Leonard, the attorney for Giovanni Ramirez says his client is crying in his cell and wants to take a polygraph to prove his innocence.

Wait a second! Crying? From a three-time convicted felon and documented gang member? Even if Ramirez escapes conviction, I'm calling bulls**t on the crying part.

Incidentally, the attorney who made this announcement is Anthony Brooklier. In an earlier TMZ story, Chip Matthews was reported as Ramirez' defense attorney. NBC LA now reports that Matthews is representing Ramirez' daughter, and not Ramirez.

One final note. A lineup has been scheduled for 6 pm this evening.

Barry Bonds offers to pay college tuition of Bryan Stow's kids

Ultra-classy move by 'the hated one'

Stow family attorney says Stow was harassed during game....plus more Dodger news

Per LA Times, the family's attorney is claiming that Bryan Stow and his friends were subjected to "clear signs of intimidation" during the game, and security failed to address it.

Daily News reports that the attorney for Giovanni Ramirez' family members is saying that the suspect's 10-year-old daughter is willing to testify that her father was not at Dodger Stadium that day.

The Astros are a welcome sight to Ted Lilly's sore eyes, according to MLB.com.  

Casey Blake could return as soon as Friday, says Don Mattingly.  

The Dodgers are going to have have to make some moves next year to bolster their lineup, writes Jon Weisman in Dodger Thoughts.

Gotta move them somehow. $7 Dodger tickets available at Groupon.

The kids were better than all right last night

Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa and Javy Guerrato make significant contributions in last night's 5-4 win over the Astros. And Bill Hall comes back down to earth. Read on per LA Times' Steve Dilbeck.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jerry Sands' monster grand slam

I couldn't embed the video, but check it out on MLB.com.

Oh my God! Frank McCourt has made me into Shawn Green

An unlikely contributor to my journey toward self-improvement is Frank McCourt. Because of him, I can watch the Dodgers squander a two-run lead in the ninth inning and not erupt like Grimsvotn.

Take last night. Conditioned to expect the worse, I observed stoically as Kenley Jansen's world fell apart around him on the mound. Two years ago, the same situation would have sent me into a profanity-laced state of hysterics. In the course of witnessing Angel Sanchez draw the walk (after fouling off five two-strike pitches!) and the subsequent double steal, the old me would have jumped off the couch, cursed up a hellish storm, paced the living room, cursed more, moved to the porch, cursed the night air, the moon, the stars, challenged God to a fistfight, sucked in a deep breath of fresh air, come back in, cursed the television set, paced some more, etc. My wife would have said something like: "What are you, 11-years old?"

Everything would have continued to go downhill after that. My mental state would have paralleled the team's collapse. The game-tying hit would have driven me to drink beer. The game winner would have had me reaching for the bottle of Jameson that sits atop my refrigerator.

Remember the days when Shawn Green would fail to produce with men in scoring position and walk back automaton-like to the dugout when the moment called for helmet-tossing, bat-hurling or — if you can only imagine — an ejection?

This is what has become of me. Because of diminishing expectations, McCourt has brought peace to my life.

Stow family suing the Dodgers

You knew this was coming. Another headache for the already beleaguered and financially-strapped Frank McCourt. Will this one tip the scale?
"It's fairly simple," said Thomas Girardi, the attorney representing the family. "The Dodgers have shown a total disregard for public safety. They've gotten rid of security people. They've had all these incidents at their games, more than other teams. There's also a known gang presence. What did they think was going to happen?" 
Courtesy of ESPN.com

Rhianna-less Matt Kemp is having fun again....plus more Dodger news

Now that the pop star is out of his love life, Kemp is enjoying baseball and life again. Perhaps not so much as Russell Martin, who likes to paint the town and his nails (courtesy of Vin Scully is My Homeboy).

Other Dodger-related news:

Per Jon Weisman, Dioner Navarro's double, which set up last night's go-ahead run, couldn't have played out any better for the Astros.

The Dodgers are on course to have the worst May in their Los Angeles history, writes Tony Jackson at Dodger Thoughts. And via Twitter, Jackson reveals that Bill Hall wanted to sign with the Dodgers last winter.

Giovanni Ramirez' lawyer tells TMZ that his client has an alibi.

MLB Trade Rumors examines Dodger contract issues for 2010: "The Dodgers could see quite a bit of turnover next year."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Photo of alleged attacker Giovanni Ramirez

Did the parole department drop the ball?

I have a feeling the parole department will eventually have to answer to charges that it was lax in its duty to monitor Giovanni Ramirez.

According to reports from KFI's Eric Leonard, Ramirez is a high-control parolee. Because of staffing issues within the department, Ramirez' monitoring wasn't as strict as it should have been. Leonard raises two troubling issues. The first is that Ramirez moved and nobody knew. The second is the duration of time it took to record the covered-up tattoos.

Today, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the parole agent had a mandatory check-in meeting with Ramirez shortly after the attack. By that time, the police sketches of the two assailants had already been released, and the agent noticed Ramirez' resemblance to one of the men depicted in the drawing.

Meanwhile, the Stow family expresses their "deep gratitude to the LAPD for their exhaustive efforts.”

Mother of Giovanni Ramirez says he's innocent

Per Eric Leonard of KFI via his Twitter feed: "my son is innocent" and he "doesn't like baseball."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Suspect in Dodger Stadium beating of Bryan Stow is in custody

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that one of the men suspected in the beating of Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium was taken into custody early this morning.

What still remains unsolved is the location of the other suspect and whether Frank McCourt will defer the reward payment.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Selig says this mess the Dodgers are in is 'historic'

Bud Selig is not putting it lightly. He's calling the Dodger ownership problems "historic."

Although he isn't saying that Major League Baseball will step up and help the team meet its upcoming payroll obligations, Selig — according to a Yahoo Sports report — "is reassuring Dodgers fans that MLB is doing what’s necessary to stabilize the team."

Jamie McCourt as anti-heroine to Dodger fans

Driving yesterday, I was listening to Matt 'Money' Smith explain why Jamie McCourt is a heroine to Dodger fans. This was in response to a number of emails from listeners to the The Petros and Money Show asking: "Why the hell would you celebrate this woman?" First, let me say that Money always does a wonderful job at encapsulating a full day of news in 4 minutes. Here's how he put recent events in the McCourt saga:
She was the impetus for all the equity being pulled out of the Dodgers to buy these homes, to live this lifestyle, to immerse herself in the midst of LA's in-crowd with all her new found wealth. She was the one that wanted side-by-side homes in Holmby Hills and on Broad Beach, jackhammering up the floor in one to put in a lap pool. She was the one who requested a $1 million a month in living expenses. And she was the person that had the goofy aspirations of eventually becoming mayor of Los Angeles. Why in God's name would we side with this wretch of a woman?
To Money, the answer is very simple: "She wants to sell the team, unlike her husband. She loves her money more than she loves owning the Dodgers." Let's keep in mind here: Mother Teresa she is not. Jamie's motivation isn't born out of any sense of goodwill toward the Dodger fanbase but out of her lust for wealth. Each day that she sees her assets diminishing is pissing her off even more. So Money goes on to say:
She wants her money, and she wants as much of it as possible. And the contention in her request that she submitted to the court is that Frank is killing the value of the franchise, that as long as he sticks around he is the face of the franchise.
And what a stomach-turning face it is. The days are gone when Tommy Lasorda was the proud and plump face of the franchise. Thanks to the McCourts, the Dodger name currently conjures up negative connotations:
If someone says 'Los Angeles Dodgers', what's the first thing that pops in your mind? Divorce, strife, Frank McCourt, pulling a $100 million out the team....In [Jamie's] opinion [that's the reason why] in a time when all of baseball attendance numbers are down, the Dodgers lead the pack by a long shot. They have percentage declines that are pushing...nearly 20% [each] year. People don't want to give Frank McCourt their money.
Boom! That's why I haven't been to a Dodger game since 2008. Money goes on to say that based on current projections, the Dodgers are going to come in under 3 million fans for the first time since 1992 (with the exception of strike-shortened 1994). All three Dodger losing seasons that fell between 1993 and 2010 still brought more than 3 million fans to the ballpark: 

Year     Record    Attendance
1992     63-99       2,473,266
1999     77-85       3,095,346
2005     71-91       3,603,646
2010     80-82       3,562,320
Source baseballreference.com

But it gets better. If a legal battle ensues over the next 18 months, you can expect the season ticket fan base to drop off even more, and with it the value of the team. Jamie's seeing dollar bills fly out of their faster than a Jonathon Broxton fastball, and she wants to stop it immediately. Basically, she knows Frank won't make payroll and fears that baseball will eventually take control of the sale of the team. According to Money's analysis:
I think she's putting that MIT degree to use here….she's kind of got the angles working. If she can convince Selig: "Look...I want to control the sale. I don't want you controlling it and holding an auction where one of your dudes is going to get a price of $690 million when I think that I can get $750 million." 
Here Money is wrong about one thing. Jamie's price tag is reportedly closer to $2 billion.

If Jamie has her way in the end, everyone will get what they wished for. Selig will get a rich and responsible owner. Jamie will get more money than any of us can spend in 100 lifetimes. And the fans will finally get rid of the McCourts. Hail Jamie!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A free suggestion for the marketing geniuses at Dodger Stadium

Tonight might be your last chance to watch a Dodger home game. So what are you waiting for? Roll on down, and while you're here, you might as well load up on all the Dodger Dogs, nachos, and 438 other varieties of starches and trans fats that we offer. Dodgers vs. Giants. Live like there's no tomorrow.


Having a restaurant so close to Dodger Stadium use to be really awesome until attendance took a nosedive.

Can you blame this guy for wanting O'Malley back?

Rick's on Riverside and Fletcher. Photo via Wade Beckett at Twitter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jamie wants to get paid

Jamie McCourt is asking a judge to force the sale of the Dodgers before the club loses more value. Full story here.

On eBay you can bid on Dodger tickets, Dodger gear, and pretty soon the Dodgers

Forbes is reporting that if Frank McCourt can't come up with $6 million to $9 million to fund payroll, the team will be sold in an auction. If this picture offers any clues, he's going to have a hell of a time getting there.

Dodger Stadium on Clayton Kershaw Bobblehead night. Photo is courtesy of 6-4-2 — an Angels/Dodgers double play blog via ChadMoriyama on Twitter.

Putting James Loney's slow start in historical perspective

Jon Wiseman compares James Loney's wretched start to other wretched Dodger starts of the post-1988 era. "Loney has a .534 OPS, putting him firmly in position to have one of the worst Dodgers starts through the end of May of any regular since 1988."
Worst OPS through May
(minimum 3.1 plate appearances per team game)
.452 John Shelby, 1989
.457 Alfredo Griffin, 1988
.532 Mike Davis, 1988
.582 Cesar Izturis, 2003
.595 Jose Offerman, 1994
If post-1988 history is any predictor, don't expect Loney to bounce back this season. That is, unless he moves to Albuquerque.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Till Selig Do Us Part

Firsthand accounts by former Dodgers employees are tremendous bang for the buck. Michael K. Fox, a Dodger marketing executive from from 1978 to 1987, wrote an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times today about the O'Malley family's clear vision toward preserving Dodger baseball for future generations. Curiously, Fox never mentions McCourt by name, my guess being because he never worked for him. I can't gauge his personal feelings toward McCourt, but anyone who basically says "This is how the O'Malley's did things" can't help but characterize the current owner as inept and short-sided, whether they mean to or not.

You don't need an MBA from Stanford to realize that drawing families to Dodger Stadium was and continues to be a sound business model:
In 1997, a family of four could enjoy a Dodgers game for $104, which included a package deal of four $12 box seats, four hot dogs and four sodas, two beers, two game programs and two Dodger caps and parking. Today, the same experience can run $600 or more; an authentic Dodger cap alone now costs $35.
Here's my take on ticket prices. McCourt's outsider status troubled me from the outset. Coming from Boston, I felt the historical love affair between the Dodgers and its followers was foreign to him. To me and other observers, McCourt's twisted way of acknowledging this union came early and often in the form of higher ticket prices.  Everything else — from shoddy personnel decisions to extravagant lifestyle choices — was hostile to the bond between team and community.

How many times have the McCourts tried to sell the public on the concept of family ownership, as if they were the second coming of Ozzie and Harriet? When Frank sobs that he wants to pass the team along to his "boys", are we supposed to get all warm and fuzzy inside? The troubling truth is this: In the futile process of trying to pass themselves off as O'Malley-like, Frank and Jamie were sucking millions out the heirloom and driving it off a financial cliff.

If Bud Selig wants to fulfill the wishes of virtually every Dodger fan, he'll see to it that the McCourt boys never get the keys to daddy's kingdom.