Bill Shaikin with some juicy (but not prurient) bits from the McCourt trial:
- Among the promises Frank McCourt made on the day he took over the Dodgers in 2004: He would maintain the Dodgers' player payroll within the top one-quarter of major league teams, and he had no plans to consider selling naming rights to Dodger Stadium.
The business plan he filed with Major League Baseball tells a different story on both counts. In two largely similar versions of the plan, the document explains how he plans to reverse the Dodgers' financial losses in part by slashing payroll -- from $100 million in 2004 to $85 million in 2006 -- and limiting annual growth to about 4 percent.
The document also notes the "iconic status of Dodger Stadium" and says "there may be initial resistance to re-naming the ballpark."
"The Dodgers' ability to remain competitive will rely in part upon the development of this revenue stream," the document reads. "A well thought out naming rights deal presented in this context will be accepted by the Los Angeles market ..."This passage seems to be presented as evidence as evidence of McCourt's perfidy, but shouldn't we worry more about the results than whatever he might have said six years ago in order to gain ownership of a great franchise.
The facts are that McCourt has the Dodgers' stadium is still called Dodger Stadium (thankfully) and that the Dodgers have maintained a payroll in the top one-quarter of major league teams.
Well, not exactly. This year they're 11th -- according to Shaikin; there are different ways of counting payroll -- and obviously 11th isn't in the top quarter. But it's close, and the Dodgers were definitely above that shreshold in 2007 and 2008. I would argue that you have to look at all the seasons since McCourt took over, and the Dodgers are definitely in the top quartile since 2006.
There are, I'm sure, any number of things for which Frank McCourt might deserve to be indicted. By the Court of Public Opinion, I mean. But he's kept the payroll roughly where he said he would, and Dodger Stadium's still Dodger Stadium. Not much to see here, folks.