McCourt speaks out; MLB responds

McCourt speaks out after meeting; MLB responds

McCourt speaks out; MLB responds
Major League Baseball denied statements from Frank McCourt on Wednesday that the league had vetoed a proposed $300 million deal between FOX and the Dodgers, and that seizure of the club is "a predetermined end result."

In a media briefing following a meeting at MLB's offices in New York, McCourt vowed to maintain control of the team and spoke out against the possibility of losing the club. Rob Manfred, MLB executive vice president of labor relations, then responded in a statement, saying Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig did not veto the proposed deal and there is no inevitable takeover of the Dodgers.

"It is unfortunate that Mr. McCourt felt it necessary to publicize the content of a private meeting," Manfred said in his statement. "It is even more unfortunate that Mr. McCourt's public recitation was not accurate. Most fundamental, Commissioner Selig did not 'veto' a proposed transaction. Rather, Mr. McCourt was clearly told that the Commissioner would make no decision on any transaction until after his investigation into the Club and its finances is complete so that he can properly evaluate all of the facts and circumstances."

Speaking from New York after the meeting -- which Selig did not attend -- the Dodgers owner and chairman said the team remains "completely compliant" with MLB rules and regulations, "current on all obligations" and has "not asked for a penny of emergency funding from MLB."

"Under those circumstances," McCourt added, "calling for an investigation, I think, is not right. Sending in somebody to essentially seize control of the franchise is absolutely wrong."

McCourt was also defiant in saying that he won't give the Dodgers up without a fight.

"Nobody handed the Dodgers to me, and nobody is going to take it away," he said. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm here to continue to run this club, and I think it is ... fundamentally wrong for any person to stand in the way of a transaction which is a sound business transaction, which I and my organization have every right to enter into."

Reports have suggested McCourt plans to sue MLB, but he was non-committal when that subject was broached on Wednesday, saying: "I'm very committed to my position, and I have not decided exactly what we're going to do."

MLB announced plans to oversee Dodgers operations last Wednesday, then on Monday appointed Tom Schieffer, a former Rangers president, to monitor the Dodgers.

Schieffer will be responsible for the Dodgers' day-to-day operations and finances of the club and all related entities, reporting directly to Selig. McCourt can still be involved in club operations but must have his decisions approved by Schieffer, according to sources.

On Wednesday, Schieffer held a press conference in Los Angeles and said he has yet to be briefed on the team's finances and is looking forward to meeting with McCourt.

Said Schieffer, who listened to McCourt's conference call before speaking to the media: "I look forward to talking to Mr. McCourt, and hopefully we can have a nice visit and see what it is he's concerned about."

On Wednesday in particular, McCourt expressed concern about Schieffer being more of a "receiver" than a monitor, and that control of the franchise may be slipping from his grasp.

"It is my personal opinion that there's been a predetermined end result here and that the investigation is not a genuine one," said McCourt, who also expressed displeasure over what he believes is an unwillingness from Selig to meet with him. "It's designed to interfere with our ability to close this transaction."

Manfred responded to those allegations in this way: "There has been no seizure of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mr. Schieffer has been appointed as a monitor, and a multi-page written directive from the Commissioner describing his role has been provided to Mr. McCourt," he said in his statement. "In our meeting, no one from the Dodgers asked a single, specific question about the terms of the document setting forth the monitor's role. ... Finally, Mr. McCourt is well aware of the basis of Baseball's investigation and has been provided an eight-page document describing the issues of concern to Major League Baseball."

The Dodgers' finances have come into question since McCourt's highly publicized divorce from his wife of 29 years, Jamie McCourt, who also served as CEO of the club until 2009 and seeks 50 percent ownership of the franchise.

This season, there have been media reports that McCourt's request to accept a $200 million advance in broadcasting revenues from FOX was rejected by Selig. Two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times reported that FOX directly loaned McCourt $30 million, which reportedly was needed to make payroll.

According to McCourt, the 17-year FOX deal would mean almost $300 million immediately invested in equity into the club "to do all the things you can imagine, primarily win a world championship, but also re-invest in our community and make sure that the fan experience at Dodger Stadium is what we promise it's going to be."

He stressed that none of that money would be used in any personal way and that the proposed pact is "completely consistent with transactions other clubs have entered into."

McCourt, a former Boston real-estate developer, purchased the Dodgers from FOX Entertainment Group in 2004. During that six-year stretch, the team made the playoffs four times.

McCourt made mention of that on Wednesday, and he also apologized for his family's personal spending and lifestyle habits, which have been pretty well-publicized recently.

"I think I made some mistakes, and I'm sorry about that, and I'm definitely committed to doing things differently moving forward," he said. "... I'm very energized right now, very focused on the Dodgers and the Los Angeles community, and I think everybody deserves a second chance. I apologize to the community, I apologize to the fans.

"I look forward to showing the Los Angeles Dodgers community what I'm really made of, and I hope they give me a second chance."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.