Dodger Drama: Owner Frank McCourt and Monitor Tom Schieffer Hold Dueling Press Conferences
Crazy day in Dodger land. Putative owner Frank McCourt held his first press conference in ages today, and denounced Commissioner Bud Selig's move to take control of the team as "un-American."
Then, the new sheriff in town, MLB monitor Tom Schieffer, held his own press conference at a hotel near LAX. And he brought a posse: former Dodger manager Joe Torre.
Dueling press conferences! Selig, Schieffer and Torre vs. McCourt and his gang of lawyers! The fate of the Dodgers on the line!
McCourt struck a defiant tone, having just emerged from a meeting with MLB officials who refused to approve his TV rights contract. Among the gems:
"Nobody handed the Dodgers to me, and nobody is going to take it away."
"I'm no PR genius... I'm a self-made guy. Every dollar I've made I've earned the old-fashioned way."
"As I said, I am not going anywhere."
"I have learned from my mistakes... I think everybody deserves a second chance. I apologize to the community. I apologize to the fans. In a way, we have all gone through this divorce together. It's been horrible."
"There are core values in this country. Fairness is one of them. Transparency is another. Private property is another... Thankfully in this country, it's not appropriate for one person's property to be seized by somebody else just because they got divorced."
"What was explained to us as the role of [Schieffer] is nothing short of a receiver -- someone coming in controlling my business -- and I'm not going to accept that."
"I suspect Commissioner Selig calls the other 29 owners back when they call."
"We don't believe Commissioner Selig has the right to jump the gun and take over the business of the Los Angeles Dodgers."
Enter Schieffer, who was supposed to start at 3 p.m. but waited until McCourt was done before taking the podium. Speaking in a smooth Texas drawl, Schieffer said he hasn't spoken with McCourt yet, but would happy to "visit" with him soon.
"I look forward to talking to Mr. McCourt," Schieffer said. "Hopefully we can have a nice visit and see what it is he's concerned about. What the commissioner's concerned about is the health of this franchise."
On whether there will be tension between him and McCourt: "I hope that there won't be friction but that's really his choice."
On how much staff he will bring with him: "I'm not big into entourages. We'll have enough people to do the work."
Joe Torre sat in the front row, but did not take questions. Schieffer said he would welcome Torre's advice as this process plays out.
Schieffer also said he would stick around "till the job is done."
What will tomorrow bring?
Thursday morning update: Frank McCourt took his media barnstorming tour to CNBC this morning, where he could expect a relatively sympathetic hearing for his claim that he's being deprived of his property rights. But then he had to go put his foot in his mouth:
"I grew up as a working-class kid and I've earned every nickel I made."
Time for a reality check. McCourt's father, Frank H. McCourt Sr., was chairman of the John McCourt Co., a Boston construction firm that built runways at Logan Airport and paved the Central Artery. The John McCourt Co. has roots in Boston that go back to the 19th century.
Frank Jr. got his start in business when he bought one of his father's companies. Frank Sr. financed the sale. So in other words, it was handed to him.
Now, give him some credit for taking it from there. (Though he had plenty of help from people who no longer speak to him.) But the idea that he pulled himself up by his working-class bootstraps is ludicrous.
Mars Melnicoff contributed to this report.