Frank McCourt essentially declared war on Major League Baseball yesterday, in a highly entertaining news conference. (I listened on a conference call, while other reporters met with him in person). He is not going down without a fight, as he made clear.
Kudos to McCourt, although I don't mean that as in, "He has the intellectual and/or moral high ground." He has neither. I mean kudos as in, "Thanks for giving us this great story!"
It's not every day, after all, that you hear one of baseball's 30 owners refer to a Bud Selig edict as "un-American." Or that you see baseball's number two man, Rob Manfred, rip into one of the 30 aforementioned owners in a statement and accuse him of propagating several "inaccuracies."
George Steinbrenner and his Yankees lieutenants used to go toe-to-toe all the time with Selig and his office, but speaking metaphorically, neither side ever went to bed angry. The two sides knew that they couldn't exist without each other. MLB needed the Yankees because of their enormous revenues, while the Yankees needed MLB because Yankees fans probably would have grown bored eventually if the team eschewed games against other teams for daily practices and intrasquad contests.
McCourt tried to generate some sympathy with his tales of woe and humanity - who among us, after all, hasn't made extravagant purchases for personal usage while shredding the payroll of our professional sports team? - but it just isn't happening.
He tried to make his case sound complex. To the contrary, it's remarkably simple: When you agree to join this exclusive club, you sign away most of your rights. You give the commissioner tremendous leeway to do what he sees fit.
Selig has been the commissioner since 1992, and more than half of the teams have undergone ownership changes in that period. These are people whom he let through the door. These are people who, from coast to coast, he has helped make a great deal of money. If Bud wants McCourt out, there won't be any serious objections.
McCourt is an island in the baseball world. Maybe he'll keep this fight going for a while. We know how this will end, so we might as well enjoy the path from here to McCourt selling the team.
For those of us who don't have a personal stake in it, It looks like it'll be a fun, bumpy ride.
Have a great day.