The Chapter 11 filing of the Los Angeles Dodgers is a desperate move by Frank McCourt to try to maintain his ownership of the team. At least McCourt, whatever his shortcomings as a major league franchise owner, chose wisely in selecting bankruptcy lawyers. Partners Bruce Bennett and Martin Bienenstock of proposed debtor’s counsel Dewey LeBeouf would be high selections on any legal fantasy team. Even, the best, however, will likely not be enough here.
Bennett and Bienenstock will probably be able to stave off a quick takeover of the Dodgers by Major League Baseball, and to turn aside the demands that the case be dismissed or that a trustee be appointed to run the team. They should also succeed in buying McCourt enough time to negotiate a sale of the team on favorable terms. But McCourt’s true goal here – to use the Chapter 11 process to keep permanent control of the team – appears to be beyond the reach of any lawyer. The Major League Baseball Constitution, pursuant to which McCourt acquired and holds the Dodgers’ franchise rights, in the end vests too much power in Commissioner Bud Selig and the other owners. Even assuming that McCourt can come up with a plan to pay off the Dodgers’ creditors, the Dodgers’ bankruptcy will almost certainly only delay the inevitable exercise of power by Major League Baseball to terminate McCourt’s right to operate the franchise.
On the other hand, not a lot of people thought a great deal of the Dodgers’ chances in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Two outs and down by run, Kirk Gibson, who could barely walk due to injury, was sent up to pinch hit . . . .