Sports

MLB News: Mets Owners, Dodgers Fans, Yankees Move and More

| by Hardball Times

Mets' owners take a hit in court

Rather then admitting some wrongdoing and settling, New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz decided to take on the trustee in charge of sorting out the Bernie Madoff scandal. Last week, they basically lost in court when a three-judge panel ruled that Irving H. Picard, the trustee in charge of sorting out the Madoff scandal,was correct in claiming that the two owners benefited to the tune of $300 million.

This could force Wilpon and Katz to turn over $300 million to the trustee. Combine this with the Mets' struggles and it's not a nice combination for the owners of the team.

Whether the owners have to pay even more may take a few months to be determined. Last week, they were in front of a U.S. district attorney who said he'd rule on whether to move forward on the additional $700 million Irvine is going after in September. If the case isn't dismissed, then it's scheduled to go on March 5, 2012. I don't think this will have a happy ending, but with Major League Baseball tied up with Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, this will at least buy MLB some time.

Dodgers attendance way down

Speaking of McCourt, there was a piece last week on the horrible attendance at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are set for a draw of around 2.2 million fans, which is 49 percent of capacity. With the McCourt mess and the team never being in the race, it's no surprise attendance is down, but the Dodgers have been at or near the top of the National League for last few years.

Even worse, the Dodgers' no-show rate is around 25 percent. While these numbers don't show up in the attendance figures (which are based on tickets sold), it does mean a hit to the pocketbook because there's nobody in the seats to buy beer, food and memorabilia.

There also was an interesting story on how the law firm McCourt retained billed the Dodgers owner $1.7 million for the five weeks worth of work in and around the bankruptcy filing. The point of the article was that no player on the Dodgers makes that much in a month, with the closest being Andre Ethier at $1.58 million. I'm sure Dodgers fans think that's worth McCourt's last gasp to hold on to the team.

Bill Foster's secret plan

It looks like things are coming to head between St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster and the Tampa Bay Rays. When pressed by the city council for information on the dealings between the two, Foster said that he's working to “break the stalemate” and that he has a plan to keep the keep the Rays in St. Petersburg. Of course he's not telling anyone his plan other than it might not mean a new stadium and just in case, there's a backup plan if the team leaves.

Some of the quotes in this story by the council members were pretty funny. They all revolve around the “secret plan” that Foster isn't willing to cough up.

Yankees to move in 2012

No, not those Yankees. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees' home ballpark, PNC Field, is set for a $40 million facelift next year. That means they're going to have to find a temporary home. Staten Island Richmond County Bank Ballpark is one possibility. It's the New York Yankees' short season affiliate and they don't start play until late June. The Yankees' spring training complex in Tampa is probably not going to be an option. Other remote possibilities are Ottawa and Lehigh Valley. The decision has to be made by September 20.

Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.

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