Commentary

It's time for Frank McCourt to step down

Each day McCourt remains as Dodgers owner only postpones his inevitable departure

Updated: June 21, 2011, 9:22 AM ET
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- You probably don't want to read about Frank McCourt right now.

If you're a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, or you have even a passing interest in the Dodgers, you have been reading about McCourt all day. Now, at the end of that day, you want to read about Clayton Kershaw, about the masterful, two-hit shutout he threw to silence the Detroit Tigers and their high-powered lineup, 4-0, before 29,355 on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. You already know all you need to know or want to know about the letter McCourt received from Bud Selig, telling him there will be no approval of the television-rights deal McCourt insists will solve all of his problems.

It is for this reason, and about a thousand others, that the time has come for McCourt to do the right thing, to admit defeat, to do the franchise and the city and the league and the world a favor and step aside.

[+] EnlargeFrank McCourt
Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesFrank McCourt and his legal team have been an all-to-familiar site to Dodgers fans desperate to talk about baseball again.

Allow Major League Baseball to take control of the team and sell it. Take whatever is left of the proceeds, pay whatever debts remain, pay off his ex-wife and then go off somewhere and live the rest of his life in peace, out of the spotlight and preferably out of sight, period.

He can live the rest of his life at the Montage if he wishes, if he can afford it. He can pay his sons whatever he chooses to pay them, for doing as much or as little work as he chooses to require of them. He can take as many private-jet flights to as many different corners of the globe as he wishes.

So, I now write directly to Frank to just please go away and leave us all alone.

And, most importantly, leave this once-proud franchise alone. Forever.

Because the next time one of your pitchers goes out and paints a masterpiece like this, the story needs to be that masterpiece. Not some letter you got from the commissioner and what it means, and how long it might take to mean what it's going to mean.

Shortly after Major League Baseball issued an official statement confirming that the letter had been sent and that McCourt isn't getting his panacea of a TV deal with Fox, Steve Susman, one of McCourt's cadre of high-priced lawyers, issued a rebuttal. The final sentence of Susman's written statement said the McCourt camp plans "to explore vigorously our options and remedies." We can assume this means a lawsuit, which would be nothing more than a sad, pathetic, last-ditch effort by McCourt to stave off the inevitable.

One way or another, Frank, it's coming. Your days as owner of the Dodgers are almost over. The end could come in 10 days, when it appears unavoidable that you will fail to make payroll, meaning MLB will have to make it for you, meaning Selig will have the right to seize control of the team, put it up for sale and send you on your not-so-merry, albeit well-compensated, way. Or, you could file a lawsuit or seek an injunction or whatever, thus dragging the whole thing out for a few more weeks or months or maybe even years, with the process eventually leading to the same conclusion, which means someone else owning the Dodgers.

Or, it could end right now, Frank. It could end with you admitting that the Dodgers, a team that has been around since 1890, one of the proudest, most storied franchises in the game, are bigger than you. It could end with you admitting that while you are the legal owner of the Dodgers, they really belong to the fans, and that those fans deserve an owner who can give them the product they are so desperately craving and so legitimately deserve.

It's all in your hands now, Frank.

In a way, Frank, I feel a kinship with you. We came to town at the same time, you from your native Boston and me from my previous career stop in Cincinnati, my having been hired by the Daily News to cover the Dodgers just as you were finalizing your purchase of the team a few weeks before spring training in 2004.

I have truly enjoyed getting to know you over the years, even though I don't presume to know you well or even know that much about you. I have enjoyed all of our conversations, both the interviews and the private talks. I think that at your core, for all your public-relations missteps and all your mistakes as an owner, you are a good man with good intentions.

I appreciate all the times you have confided in me, and am proud to say I never betrayed any of those confidences. And I will never forget what probably was the last one-on-one conversation we will ever have, when I ran into you on the concourse at that Arizona Fall League game in October and we spoke off the record for 20 minutes, and how much I enjoyed the chance to catch up at a time when you understandably were keeping a low profile publicly.

But frankly, Frank, it's over now. It isn't working, and it's never going to work. Everyone who is paying attention knows it, and I think deep down, you know it too.

You have every legal right to keep fighting this. But just having the right doesn't make it right, and it isn't right. You said it yourself during that national news conference/conference call you held back on April 27, that you believed there was a predetermined outcome to this whole thing. And while I'm not inside Selig's head, I suspect you were correct about that.

That predetermined outcome is now an inevitable outcome. It's time to stop fighting it. It's time for you to step aside.

And then, maybe the next time Kershaw pitches a two-hit shutout, his thunder won't be stolen by this ugly saga that just never seems to go away.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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