The McCourts are back in court for a non-jury trial to decide whether Frank McCourt is the sole owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers or if his estranged wife Jamie McCourt has an ownership stake in the team. The trial began Monday morning.
This case has something for everyone -- sports, relationship drama, courtroom confrontations -- and here's what to watch for in the coming days.
What's at Stake?
Nothing less than the future of the Dodgers. If either Frank or Jamie is awarded the team, most experts say neither has the money to buy out the other. That means, chances are, the winner will be forced to sell the team. That's what happened to the owners of the San Diego Padres in his divorce, and he was forced to sell the team.
Why the Controversy?
Because there are two versions of the McCourts' postnuptial agreement. One says Jamie is a co-owner. The other says Jamie keeps the houses, and Frank keeps the team. It will be fascinating to hear both sides explain how there could possibly be two opposite versions of the same agreement.
To make matters even more complicated, there have been reports that the couple took out second mortgages on their homes to help finance the Dodgers. If this is true, the co-mingling of assets could void any previous agreement.
Why the Huge Legal Bills?
Experts say the McCourts could spend as much as $20 million in legal fees on their divorce case. Both sides have employed expensive, high-powered attorneys. Steve Sussman represents Frank, and David Boies is Jamie's mouthpiece. It will be entertaining to see them square off in the media. The pair has faced off against each other twice, with each winning one case. This will be the rubber match. Interestingly, they have also worked together on some cases. Neither is an expert on family law.
What's the Juicy Stuff?
There may be some tawdry testimony about Jamie's affair with her Dodgers bodyguard. They reportedly went to Paris and Israel together on company business. Both have since been fired from the team. There will also be testimony on how the McCourts used their equity in the team to support their lavish lifestyle, including numerous homes. You will hear about Jamie's plan to run for president of the United States, and Frank's plan to raise ticket prices. All this will lead many fans to wonder whether their hard-earned ticket money is going to improve the team or improve the McCourts' lifestyle.
The heart of the matter will be trying to determine the value of the team. Jamie's side would like to value the team by factoring in the new cable TV channel that is expected to be formed once the Dodgers' deal with Fox expires in two years. That figure could be as much as $1.5 billion. Frank would like the team to be valued as of today, which would be roughly around $750 million.
What Does the Baseball Commissioner Say?
Absolutely nothing. Bud Selig has refused to comment on the matter.
Will Joe Torre Stay in LA?
Probably not. Would you, if you were him? Torre is used to managing winners -- working for owners who go out and get a player when the need arises. He can't be happy, for example, with the Dodgers' catching situation right now. With starter Russell Martin out for the year, Torre's choices are limited to Rod Barajas and Brad Ausmus. When asked last week about the catching situation, all Torre could say was, "We have to live with it." That statement said a lot.