We've all heard of of by now...what a disgrace.
The shock waves that swept through baseball all the way to Citi Field late Wednesday when commissioner Bud Selig announced Major League Baseball was taking over the financial operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't help but raise the question: Are the Mets next?
It probably didn't help that, at the same time Selig was saying he was taking action "to ensure that this club is operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future" the Mets announced Bobby Parnell had possible blood clotting on his middle pitching finger but would not be immediately replaced on the roster. Only a cynic would suggest the reason the Mets chose to play the Houston Astros shorthanded Wednesday night was because they couldn't afford to pay a major league salary for one day to a recalled minor leaguer.
In any case, Jason Bay presumably will be back tonight to take Parnell's roster spot.
The big issue, of course, is just how does Selig's action with the financially distressed Dodgers affect the likewise financially distressed Mets? The answer to that undoubtedly lies in the Mets owners' efforts to find an investor to pump some $200 million into the operation, which presumably will enable them to refinance and start paying down the estimated $300 million team debt, make their stadium bond payments and cover all their operating costs, most notably payroll.
Selig's action with the Dodgers was precipitated by a $30 million personal loan Dodger owner Frank McCourt arranged with Fox, the team's television partner, last week, purportedly to make payroll. In order to secure the loan, McCourt had to use as collateral the settlement he got in an unrelated lawsuit in Boston, after Selig denied his request to use the team as collateral for a $200 million loan from Fox.
Wednesday night, McCourt enlisted Sullivan & Cromwell, a longstanding, prominent New York law firm, to sue MLB and Selig. A veteran sports attorney speculated that McCourt will base his case on the fact that he never asked MLB for a loan, unlike Mets owner Fred Wilpon and former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks. MLB did not move to take over the Mets or Rangers when they came into similar financial distress.
Not surprisingly, McCourt's estranged wife, Jamie, checked in with a statement, saying she "welcomed and supported the commissioner's actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction" for the Dodgers.
Because of the Mets' massive team debt (much of it believed to be accrued from their buyout of Nelson Doubleday's 50% of the team in August of 2002 for $135million), the club's owners have also had payroll issues - as recently as last November they received a $25million loan from MLB to cover operating expenses. Before that, they were able to tap into their accounts with convicted Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. But, as has been well-documented, those accounts are all gone now.