By Ross Newhan
Having established its regional networks and so anxious to unload its tumultuous ownership of the Dodgers, Fox virtually underwrote Frank McCourt's purchase of the team in 2004.
Skeptical and factual reports of McCourts lack of financial resources were produced repeatedly by this reporter, then the national baseball columnist at the L.A. Times, and Jason Reid, who was then covering the Dodgers for The Times.
It was shocking that Commissioner Bud Selig allowed McCourt and wife Jamie, with limited resources of their own, to take debt-ridden ownership of the Dodgers.
The situation has only become worse, and it is disgraceful--and illlustrative of the media giant's overall hold on baseball--that again only Fox stands between one of Selig's flagship franchises and total financial chaos, if the Dodgers aren't already at that point.
As my former colleague, Bill Shaikin, reported in The Times Sunday, McCourt took a $30 milllion loan from Fox to meet the club's payroll obligations last week. the second time since the end of last season that Fox has provided money so that McCourt can meet his financial obligations.
Those oblgiations reportedly total more than $400 million.
Not even the proposed $300 million TV deal with Fox, which Selig has not approved and may not approve, will totally bail him out.
Meanwhile, he and Jamie have yet to reach a divorce settlement, their legal bills continue to mount, a team that desperately needs a left fielder and greater overall depth shows no indication that it is capable of long-term success, attendance falls to embarrassing lows and the City of Angels threatens to become just that--a city more interested in the team in Orange County.
Fans are disgusted by the security issues, the divorce details underscoring the McCourts' extravagant lifestyle and the state of the organization. As one story after another details the depths of ownership's financial problems, the hold that Fox maintains, and what has been an ongoing turnover in front office personnel under the McCourts, fans can only hope that Selig will risk a McCourt law suit and appoint a custodial owner under either Mark Attansio, Dennis Gilbert or an unidentified person or group with enough recources to operate competently on their own to repair the sorry mess that currently exists.
Enough of the Fox tentacles. Enough of the McCourts.
There has been so much chaos since the sale to Fox in 1998 that it is difficult to even remember the stability of the O'Malley ownership.
Peter O'Malley's tenure wasn't always successful, but it was never the embarrassment that engulfs the team and its owners now.