Within several weeks the fate of the Los Angeles Dodgers will be decided by a series of decisions - first by Delaware District Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross and then by Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Bud Selig.
Superficially, the media has defined the dispute over the Dodgers ownership as a tug of war between Commissioner Selig and Dodger owner Frank McCourt. But there is much more to it and, due to recent comments by Selig, the stakes continue to rise.
McCourt claims with good reason that Selig forced the Dodgers into bankruptcy by denying his financing plans with Fox Sports Network. Selig claims McCourt has mismanaged the Dodgers and demands he sell the team.
But also at issue here is the future of Commissioner Bud Selig's dictatorship over Major League Baseball's thirty two franchise owners. MLB's multi-billion dollar business is essentially unregulated by Congress and Selig has run rough-shod for more than twenty years rewarding those owners he favors while persecuting those in his doghouse like the Dodger's McCourt.
A bankruptcy court ruling in favor of the Dodgers could begin to unravel Selig's unregulated powers -which are on full public display with Selig's recent pledge to suspend the Dodgers from the MLB.
Indeed Selig's "nuclear option" pledge against the Dodgers if they beat him in court ups the stakes for "Angelenos" in this fight.
The consequences of Selig following through on his misguided threat would be to worsen LA's recession stricken economy. According to recent estimates, the Dodger organization directly employs more than 2,500 mostly union workers - which to the Dodgers credit go to persons that personify LA's diverse population.
Furthermore, Dodger operations pump an estimated $500 million annually into the economy, sustaining scores of businesses big and small. One UCLA academic estimated that another 1000 "upstream" jobs are sustained by Dodger purchases. That is food and beverages, equipment, merchandise, and so on. Moreover, a further 1,000 "downstream" jobs are sustained by the everyday consumption of everyone on the Dodger payroll!
Thus some 4.500 jobs and scores of businesses are conservatively at risk of oblivion or significant impact if Commissioner Selig carries out his "nuclear option" threat of disbanding the Dodgers should they prevail over him in court.
Honest people can disagree over the merits of the dispute between the Dodgers and MLB's Selig, the quality of Frank McCourt's tenure as Dodger owner, or Bud Selig's stewardship of the MLB. But all interested parties should agree that Selig needs to take his "nuclear option" off the table. Los Angeles fans have loyally supported the Dodgers for fifty years and we deserve better. Anything less would amount to a black eye both for America's national pastime and America's 2nd largest city. Say it ain't so, Bud...