Major Leage Baseball is taking over business and day-to-operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In a statement announcing the move Wednesday, commissioner Bud Selig said the club was taken away from owner Frank McCourt "to protect the best interests of the club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball.”
McCourt, a Boston parking lot magnate, took on $421 million in debt to buy the team from News Corp. in 2003, and has since added another $433 million to the franchise's debt load, according to the Los Angeles Times. McCourt's wife Jamie tried to get control of the team during their contentious divorce trial last year. The Associated Press says Selig made his decision after hearing that McCourt had borrowed $30 million from Fox--the team and league's television partner--to cover the team's first payroll of the season
Baseball has taken control of wayward franchises in the past. They ran the Montreal Expos from 2001 through 2004, and supervised their relocation to Washington, D.C. In 1990, the league suspended Yankees owner George Steinbrenner twice, first in 1972 over illegal campaign contributions (2 years), then again in 1990 for paying a gambler to dig up dirt on first baseman Dave Winfield (30 months). The league's so-called 'best interests of baseball'-rule gives the commissioner blanket authority to ban owners and players who could jeopardize baseball's image.
McCourt's bad day somehow managed to get worse--TMZ is now reporting the IRS has launched an investigation into the owner-in-exile's finances.