J. Thomas Schieffer to run Dodgers

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer was appointed by baseball commissioner Bud Selig to oversee the Los Angeles Dodgers' business and financial operations, Major League Baseball announced on Monday.

Selig had announced that because of "increasing concerns" about owner Frank McCourt's finances and ability to run the club, he would be appointing someone to oversee the club's finances in the near future.

Don't expect Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to go quietly into the night, sell the team for about $900 million-$1 billion (as one financial insider with knowledge of the franchise estimates its worth), pay off his debts, and then return to Boston or vacation for the rest of his life.

The McCourt-Selig saga that began to play out last week in Los Angeles shapes up as one of the great sports legal battles of the 21st century.

Dodger fans were positive towards Frank and Jamie even as ticket prices soared, along with major changes to Dodger Stadium that made it feel too commercial, just because the team on the field was finding success. In the McCourts' first six seasons of ownership, the Dodgers went to the playoffs four times and went to back-to-back NLCS, losing both to the Philadelphia Phillies.

However, Frank and Jamie's divorce put an damper on the entire franchise, starting in the end of 2009 right as the Dodgers were battling for a spot in the World Series. The battle in terms of who controls the team after the divorce made many fans question if McCourt was right for the position, spending millions of money he did not have on his legal team.

McCourt's financial woes are the only reason Major League Baseball has had to get involved, as it was reported that Frank was $439 million in debt. Unable to make payroll in April, McCourt apparently had to take a $30 million loan from Fox (the company he bought the team from) after Selig denied McCourt's proposal for a $200 million loan. It is estimated that McCourt is $430 million in debt.

If the McCourt's have to sell the team -- and that should be a huge IF at this time -- there are many groups waiting in the wings to bid on them, including one led by Magic Johnson and another by Steve Garvey.

Before the commissioner pulled the plug on McCourt's ownership, he and his lawyers spent months assessing the situation and came to the realization that he had to make the boldest possible move and take control of the franchise. He has not yet done that with the Mets, whom many industry experts thought would be the first of the two teams to be taken over.

"We are very fortunate to have someone of Tom Schieffer's stature monitor the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers on behalf of Major League Baseball," Selig said in the statement. "Tom is a distinguished public servant who has represented the nation with excellence and has demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout his career. The many years that he spent managing the operations of a successful franchise will benefit the Dodgers and Major League Baseball as a whole. I am grateful for Tom's acceptance of this role."

Manager Don Mattingly again said the appointment wouldn't affect his team's approach. "It has nothing to do with us. It doesn't change anything about what we do or how we get ready, making pitches, making plays, being in the right spot, playing baseball," Mattingly said before Los Angeles played at Florida on Monday night. "This is kind of year two of it. The fact MLB came in doesn't really change anything for us."

Schieffer currently is senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, the same position held at the firm by New York Yankees president Randy Levine.

Schieffer served the Rangers as president from 1991-99 and also served as the team's general partner from November 1994 to June 1998. The team reached the postseason for the first time during his tenure, winning the American League West in 1996. As the president of the Rangers, Schieffer was a member of several significant MLB committees and boards, including Selig's 1999 Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics.

Once one of baseball's most powerful franchises, the Dodgers have been in near constant turmoil since October 2009, when Jamie McCourt filed for divorce a week after husband Frank fired her as the team's chief executive.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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