Uncertainty reigns as MLB takes control of Dodgers

Matt Kemp and the rest of his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates

aren’t worried about who will be signing their paychecks now that

baseball is taking control of the troubled franchise. Beyond that,

no one on the team or in the stands is sure what to expect.

Even general manager Ned Colletti is waiting for commissioner

Bud Selig’s office to tell him what’s going on.

”I’m sure more direction will come in the days ahead,” he

said.

Selig told owner Frank McCourt on Wednesday that he will appoint

a MLB representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the

team’s day-to-day operations. McCourt, who bought the team from

News Corp. in 2004, was nowhere to be seen at Dodger Stadium on

Wednesday.

He and his ex-wife Jamie McCourt have been battling over

ownership of the franchise since she filed for divorce in October

2009 after 30 years of marriage.

”It’s sad,” said Tom Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers to their

last World Series title in 1988 and serves as special adviser to

McCourt.

”I’ve spent 62 years in this organization and I’ve never seen

anything like this happen. Frank loved the Dodgers. A lot of people

may not realize that, but he really loved the Dodgers.”

McCourt has drawn the ire of Dodgers fans throughout his tenure,

especially after details of the couple’s lavish lifestyle and

spending came out during their divorce hearing.

”Maybe he’ll have to sell a few of his homes,” said Lee

Kracker, a 35-year season ticketholder from Brea, Calif.

Colletti held a closed-door meeting with the players before

their game against Atlanta to assure them that Selig’s move doesn’t

affect their jobs on the field.

Kemp parroted that message as he sat at his locker working on

his bat.

”I ain’t got nothing to do with that,” the center fielder

said. ”Our responsibility is just to play baseball and win as many

games as we can. We can’t really worry about off-the-field

issues.”

The Dodgers entered Wednesday night tied with San Diego for last

in the NL West, having lost seven of their previous 10 games.

”This organization, this team, the players are protected under

major league baseball,” right fielder Andre Ethier said. ”There’s

going to be a Dodgers team no matter what and we’re going to go out

and do our job. The fans deserve to have a good team and a good

product out there.”

Since McCourt became owner, the team has reached the postseason

in four of the last seven seasons, and won consecutive division

titles in 2008 and ’09. He has often said he expects his four sons

to someday take over running the Dodgers, but that dream seems

seriously in doubt.

Kracker said she thought McCourt’s purchase was a good thing at

the time ”because they were a family like the O’Malleys. You want

that family feeling.”

Walter O’Malley first owned part of the team starting in 1944.

After he died in 1979, his son Peter and daughter Terry assumed

ownership before selling to the Fox Group in 1997.

The Dodgers were long considered one of baseball’s glamour

franchises, with such greats as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella,

Duke Snider and Sandy Koufax on the roster.

”I’m in shock about the whole issue,” said former pitching

great Don Newcombe, who has been in the organization for 56 years,

including the last 41 as director of community relations.

First-year manager Don Mattingly and some of the players cited

the Texas Rangers as proof that off-the-field problems don’t have

to bring down a franchise. The Rangers reached the World Series

last season after a federal bankruptcy auction in August.

”It’s hard to imagine it would happen somewhere like the

Dodgers, but there’s crazy stuff going on everywhere,” said

Mattingly, who turned 50 on Wednesday. ”You’re seeing monster

major banks going down, so obviously it can happen.”

Catcher Rod Barajas, who grew up in Southern California rooting

for the Dodgers, pointed out the Rangers signed pitcher Cliff Lee

and catcher Bengie Molina despite their financial woes.

”We’re wondering how is it possible that a team that doesn’t

have any money can add these players? Obviously, there’s a way,”

Barajas said. ”I don’t think it’s going to affect us. They’re not

going to break us up and sell guys because they can’t make

payroll.”

Martin McGinty, a 73-year-old Dodgers fan from Arcadia, Calif.,

welcomed the takeover news.

”McCourt wants to spend no money and attendance is way down,”

he said as he prepared his scorecard before the game. ”People are

becoming disgusted at the way McCourt is handling the team. It’s

time they get somebody who’ll spend some money. This is L.A. You

need to spend money and have a decent team.”

Entering Wednesday, the Dodgers had averaged 39,205 fans this

season, down 11 percent from their average last year.

”If we can go out and put a winning streak together and make

sure we stay in this race and have a chance to win it,” Mattingly

said, ”they’re not going to be talking about anything but

that.”