MLB News: Mets Owners, Dodgers McCourt Loses, Cubs and More

Mets owners score win in court

New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz scored a major victory in court a couple of weeks ago. They've been busy defending themselves against Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of the Bernie Madoff scandal. Picard was going after the Mets owners for a billion dollars because he felt Wilpon and Katz were complicit in their silence surrounding their involvement (and friendship) with Bernie Madoff. Instead, the judge determined that Wilpon and Katz would have to pay no more then $386 million, which is the amount they pulled back from Madoff. The number could be a lot less, because if the judge determines that some of that $386 million was money that Wilpon and Katz put in, they won't have to repay that amount.

A lot will depend on whether Picard can prove Wilpon and Katz were willfully blind to the fact that Madoff's investment fund was a Ponzi scheme. If Picard can't show this, the total amount that the two owners will owe will be closer to $86 million. There's also an odd chance that the Mets owners come out of this ahead, because they're claiming they lost money along the way like many other stakeholders who invested with Madoff.

There's a chance Picard will appeal the decision so this thing is far from over. Still, this makes the blown deal that would have brought the Mets $300 million not as much of a big deal.

McCourt loses latest round in bankruptcy court

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was dealt a blow in bankruptcy court last week. McCourt is trying to push through a television deal with Fox that would most likely allow him to keep the team. One of his defenses was to examine some of the other major league teams, their deals and financial dealings, to see if MLB is treating the Dodgers unfairly by blocking this television deal. The court thought otherwise and it's denying the Dodgers access to financial information related to other teams in the league.

Without the documents, the court is going to examine what factors commissioner Bud Selig used to reject the television deal. If he came to the decision in good faith, then odds are good MLB's stance on blocking the deal is going to stand. Of course the Dodgers side is going to try to prove that Selig blocked the deal because he wanted McCourt out as owner of the team.

Still no deal for Cubs and Mesa

For over a year, the city of Mesa has been trying to come to an agreement to keep the Chicago Cubs spring training home in the city. The city's voters have agreed to spend up to $99 for a new facility and infrastructure spending around the new proposed site, but a lease deal has been elusive. Once again, it looks like things are being put on hold. A city official said they're just finalizing documents, so it doesn't appear to be anything that would bust up the deal.

The Cubs were flirting with the idea of moving their spring training headquarters to Naples, Fla. before the voters approved the deal. The earliest the city council could vote is early next week, but it doesn't sound like that's a certainty. There's still hope, though, that they can get a deal done and get the facility up in time for the 2013 spring season.

Rays' stadium rhetoric heats up

The Tampa Bay Rays are out of the playoffs and it didn't take long for owner Stu Sternberg to blame the early departure on Tropicana Field. He talked about how the Rays lost fans this year and were second to last in attendance despite their impressive playoff run, and how more money from a new ballpark could have made the difference. Sternberg even went as far to say that the league would “vaporize” the team—whatever that means. Of coursem there's a good counterargument in Neil deMause's piece, because he talks about how there's a good chance there were fewer tickets sold simply because the Rays sold off all of their better free agents this past offseason.

With the economy the way it is, I don't see the Rays getting anything done too soon. I also don't see relocation as the answer. So, for now, I think we'll just hear this kind of venting from time to time and then, hopefully, the Rays will be able to put together solid teams like they've done the past couple of years.

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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