The war of words between Major League Baseball and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt escalated today when McCourt said during an interview on CNBC that commissioner Bud Selig was ducking his calls and suggested that the league was purposefully not approving a TV-rights contract that would infuse much-needed cash into the team. McCourt is in New York for meetings with league officials about approving the TV deal with Fox, which the embattled owner said would give him $285 million immediately. “The transaction is complete,” McCourt told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “I’m ready to sign it. Fox is ready to sign it. By the way, this just isn’t something we pulled a rabbit out of our hat in the last week or so. This is a transaction we’ve been working on for six months, and Bud is fully aware of that. It’s a transaction consistent with what’s been approved for other teams.”
The Dodgers are in financial straights, with McCourt pulling out $100 million from the team over the past seven years for personal use, including fighting a messy divorce. That, plus word of an arranged $30 million personal loan from Fox to McCourt to cover the team’s payroll, led the league last week to take over day-to-day financial operations of the club. McCourt has resisted the move, saying today that the Fox deal would solve any problems. “I’ve tried to talk to Bud for several weeks. He’s ducking me. I don’t know why,” McCourt said. “We should be having a conversation about this. This is about solving a problem.”
McCourt and Selig traded jabs Wednesday, when the owner said the commissioner vetoed the Fox deal. Responded baseball executive VP Rob Manfred: “Commissioner Selig did not ‘veto’ a proposed transaction. Rather, Mr. McCourt was clearly told that the commissioner would make no decision on any transaction until after his investigation into the club and its finances is complete so that he can properly evaluate all of the facts and circumstances.”
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