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Frank McCourt's ouster can't come soon enough

This column by Scott Miller originally appeared on CBSSports.com


It always was tough to tell which parts of Frank McCourt were downright stupid, dangerously delusional or impossibly arrogant.

What he is now, essentially, is finished as Dodgers owner.

You bet that's what this means. Bud Selig's patience is gone, and by sending in a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and day-to-day operations of the Dodgers while baseball investigates the club's operations and finances, the commissioner has stripped McCourt of all of his power.

He is a would-be king without a kingdom; an emperor with no clothes.

It is not a pretty sight.

But, oh, is it a beautiful sight for Dodgers fans.

This is a last-resort tactic by Major League Baseball, designed specifically to force McCourt to sell. Plain and simple, black and white.

"The entire thing is out of control," said one MLB official who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the record. "It's embarrassing. The finances are a mess, the operation is a mess, everything is a mess."

Until that day when he does sell, and Wednesday's action means sooner rather than later, the Dodgers can't make a single move without clearing it through the commissioner's representative.

Add payroll for a trade? Ask permission.

Hire a "vice-chairman" to oversee security implementation, as the Dodgers did Tuesday? Only if the commissioner's office signs off on it.

At this point, McCourt won't be able to take a leak without running it by someone, and file that one under "privilege deservedly lost."

The man who owned seven residences across the country with soon-to-be-ex-wife Jamie (including a $28 million home in Malibu), is so broke he reportedly took a $30 million loan from the Fox Broadcasting Co. last week just to meet his Dodgers payroll obligations.

His ongoing divorce battle with Jamie over control of the team (among other issues) has been a slimy, undignified mud-wrestling match serving as a model for how adults should not behave. He fired her as president of the club in a terse news release the day after the 2009 NLCS finished. It has only gotten worse since.

And the Giants fan who was sickeningly beaten to a pulp on opening night in Los Angeles by Dodgers fans? McCourt over the winter had fired the man in charge of the club's security operations, former Secret Service agent Ray Maytorena. The security man in the Dodgers' "employ" during opening week when the beating occurred in the stadium parking lot was actually a part-time consultant, whose full-time job was as director of campus safety at the Claremont Colleges.

"Every corner you turn, it's a disaster," the baseball official said. "He's fired 300 or 400 employees since he's been there."

McCourt has been tone deaf to the point where he has changed public relations specialists as frequently as some folks change underwear. But his biggest misread -- and his final straw with a good deal of the mass of Dodgers fans who want him gone, pronto -- was in his failure to take any responsibility following the beating of the Giants fan, Brian Stow.

It wasn't until a week later that McCourt's club announced the hiring of former Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton to develop what the Dodgers referred to as a "security blueprint" for the stadium and surrounding parking lots.

Then, Tuesday, the Dodgers hired Steve Soboroff as "vice-chairman" to oversee the implementation of improved Dodger Stadium security measures. Soboroff? The one-time adviser to former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan just happened to write a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times last September offering glowing support of McCourt shortly after former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley spoke out and said McCourt should sell the team.

During a meeting with reporters in the Dodgers' dugout Tuesday, Soboroff, speaking of fan behavior, boasted that "in one generation, the etiquette will be like it is on a golf course."

Really?

"Of course not," he told reporters, as quoted by the Times. "No."

On and on went the McCourt ownership, one nonsensical thing like this after another.

Now, Los Angeles' days of having its baseball team held hostage by a man seriously in over his skis appears, mercifully, numbered.

Unlike the Texas Rangers did a year ago during an ownership transfer, the Dodgers have not yet hit bankruptcy. But even that might be better than where they are now.

Baseball's move to reverse this on Wednesday is not unprecedented, but it is exceedingly rare. Not since Marge Schott owned the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s and made comments slurring gays and African-Americans and made favorable comments regarding Adolf Hitler has baseball stripped an owner of day-to-day operations and essentially forced a sale.

It would be bad enough if McCourt took his lowbrow act and ruined, say, the Bad News Bears.

But the Dodgers? Once one of the game's marquee franchises?

He can't be gone quickly enough. Here's hoping Selig's cleanup hitter -- expected to be named in the next few days -- knocks him clean out of sight.

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